How Carrots Helped Save the Free World

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Posted by: briansittley Comments: 0 0 Post Date: August 20, 2009


According to Michael Korda in his book With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain (Harper Collins, (c) 2009), the legend that eating raw carrots improves night vision came about in part as a propaganda cover story invented to conceal the existence of ‘airborne interception’ — the secret British radar experimental sets mounted in their aircraft to detect German night bombers during the Battle of Britain.

According to lore, “raw carrots were placed conspicuously on the table at every meal for night fighter pilots, and the story about their effect on eyesight was skillfully spread by the Ministry of Information — so skillfully that parents today are still urging children to eat carrots.”  (Didn’t yours?)

I know, this seemingly has nothing to do with tech or biz, but it’s an interesting anecdote nonetheless.  Another of those Mom Myths debunked I suppose. 

But as a sidebar, Korda’s book is revealing in a different sort of way: while we’re all bemoaning the circumstances of our current economic (mis)fortunes — see, this really was about ‘business’ after all, sort of —  it’s illuminating to see the real courage and true grit on display in the summer and fall of 1940 by a people truly besieged.  In what was described as “their finest hour” Winston Churchill memorably praised the crews and pilots of that dark time, noting that “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Always helps to keep things in perspective.

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