Dr. Leonard Pike, left, and research assistant Michael Faries sort through more than 250 bushels of red, yellow, maroon and orange carrots to prepare for this years breeding crop. Pike, a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station vegetable breeder, hopes to develop a variety of carrot packed with all the essential phytochemicals known to prevent human disease. (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo by Kathleen Phillips)
In the late 1980s, Dr. Leonard Pike stood at a roadside vegetable market in Russia and watched a produce man chop, chop, chop much like a butcher slicing deli meat. When he was finished, the thin, yellow medallions under his knife were gathered up like poker chips, weighed in a bag, and handed to the customer.
"He was cutting carrots. They sold them sliced, even back then. I thought that was fascinating," said Pike, a horticulturist who was in Russia on a seed-collecting mission for the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.
Besides the novelty of slicing carrots for sale, Pike was struck by the lemon yellow color of Russian carrots, cousins to the common orange varieties in the United States. Before he left that country, Pike gathered up some Russian seed to deposit in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s world seed collection.
Kathleen Phillips | EurekAlert!
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