In the midst of World War II, the British Air Ministry began publicly extolling the virtues of carrot-eating. The vitamin A from these vegetables was improving pilots’ eyesight considerably, the ministry claimed, allowing flyers to spot enemy planes from greater distances and at night. Newspapers regurgitated these reports of strategic root vegetable consumption, and indeed, war statistics indicated a sharp uptick in British pilots’ performance in poor visibility conditions.
The view that carrots are good for the eyes is a notion still commonly held today. They do contain Vitamin A, a nutrient which helps contribute to healthy eyes, but it turns out the vegetables have a negligible effect on vision even if eaten in vast quantities. The Air Ministry deliberately fabricated the story to prevent the Germans from discovering the Allies’ invention and implementation of Airborne Interception RADAR units in their fighter planes. This new secret technology was the real reason British pilots always seemed to know when German planes were approaching.