Leading article: Colours on a plate

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In only one respect is a carrot like an elephant. It is very hard to describe, but you know one when you see it. And chiefly you know it is a carrot because it is orange.

Alas, no more, if the supermarkets have their way. The carrot we all know and love (and helps us see in the dark) has been subject to a makeover that has re-coloured it white.

The white carrot, its promoters gush, is sweeter and juicier than its traditional counterpart. It has a smoother flavour and a higher level of something called "phytochemicals" that give it a "rich taste".

And, by the way, just to save you from showing your ignorance by asking about the whereabouts of the white carrot at your friendly local supermarket, it is not actually called a white carrot, or even an "albino". It is "white satin". Now you know.

The purpose of white satin, as you will surely have guessed, is not just to delight the diner. It is also about reinvigorating the vegetable market. At more than £1bn a year, we are still not buying enough.

Usually, it is the supposed aversion of children to vegetables that such novelties are designed to remedy. This time around, it seems to be the more sophisticated palate - in the run-up to Christmas.

We hope, for the carrot's sake, this year's relaunch is more successful than the last. The purple carrot was ditched when the dye boiled out in the saucepan, even before carrot reached plate. At least that will not be a problem with white satin.

If tonal variety on the plate is what it is all about, it does pose the question: what are parsnips for?

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