London Comment

In 1950 something dreadful happened to Christine Palmer-Howarth. She was only a little girl at the time, living on the south coast of England. Every week she went to visit her uncle at his dark and dingy corner shop.

And that's where the trouble began. A mental affliction that has haunted her down the years. Uncle Ben was an expert horticulturalist, and an authority on the many varieties of potato. He would rave about runner beans, enthuse on the superior style of swedes and greet any passing cauliflower with a big hug. Uncle Ben, as by know you may have guessed, sold vegetables. And Christine grew to hate them with a manic passion. She hated the smell, the look, the feel …. even the idea of anything that used to grow in the ground. Faced with a harmless turnip Christine would run for her life. It was too much to be in the same room with anything veggie.

Now, this condition is rare, but not unknown. The British Royal College of Psychiatry describes it thus - lachanophobia. But a fancy Latin name cannot protect you from the risks of everyday life. Just suppose you are strolling down the sidewalk when someone wanders by with a big juicy carrot….. Yuck! Because out of all the monsters of the soil, the carrot strikes terror into all lachnaphobics. Experts say it may be shape or - most likely - the colour. Carrots have been orange since the Dutch developed them 400 years ago.

But now science is coming to the rescue and in the northern English county of Yorkshire there are fields full of a brand new variety. I kid you not - the white carrot is on its way. I would show you one now but they are so new they are still growing. In a few weeks time, they should be in the shops. Not that this will help poor Christine Palmer-Howarth. She has been undergoing hypnotherapy to ease her fears. It is beginning to work. But be careful. The merest mention of her most detested vegetable could set her screaming again. This is Ed Boyle for CBS News in Lettuce, sorry - London!
  • Erin Petrun

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