Yesterday we harvested some really beautiful red beets–Chioggias, from Italy–one of four varieties we’re growing in the garden this year. These were planted just over two months ago, on March 21.
Cut in two, a Chioggia looks a lot like a bb target with its red and white rings. For people who like beets, it makes a colorful addition to a salad.
Not everyone likes beets, however. While many love them, many also hate them. President Obama and the First Lady, for example, both count themselves among the thumbs-down-to-beets segment of the population, roughly a third of the country. That’s why there’s not a single beet growing in the White House’s kitchen garden.
Why do some folks not like beets? For most, it’s because of their bad luck in the genetic casino. They ended up with a set of genes that make them especially sensitive to the scent of geosmins, bacterial debris that give fresh dirt its fresh smell, but that also (for these poor souls, at least) make fresh beets taste like dirt. (Google "beets" and "taste like dirt" and you’ll see how widespread this phenomenon is.)
Beets are not the only veggie that puts off certain segments of the population. Cilantro does, too. About 10% of the country thinks fresh Cilantro tastes like soap. Fresh tomatoes, too. For a very small slice of the population, sliced tomatoes taste gross, like totally icky.
All because of unlucky draws from the gene pool.
Our hearts go out to these poor souls; but this also means all the more for the rest of us (!).