Monday, July 22, 2013

Carrots and fighter pilots


When I was growing up, it was a commonly accepted fact (amongst mothers especially) that eating carrots would improve your eyesight, perhaps even help you to see better at night.  Most of us never questioned this pearl of motherly insight.
However, it owes its origin, not to nutritional science, but to Britain's RAF during WWII.  In case you don't know the story, Britain's fighter pilots were the first to use radar to locate and shoot down enemy planes.  They didn't want the Germans to know about their secret weapon and so they needed a plausible explanation for why their pilots were suddenly so accurate at night time. Thus they circulated a tale that it was because their pilots were eating a special diet high in carrots that they were able to see so well at night.  The information campaign was so successful that many people still believe it today, unaware of it's origin.
Now I was taught this interesting bit of information somewhere in a History course at uni.  In case you think I'm just making it all up (because your mother always told you it was true), here's a couple of sources that confirm it.  This one, this one, this one and this one.
Just so you know.  Not that I have anything against carrots.

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