Throw a Beet on the Barbie

Why do so many Americans hate beets? Justin Wolfers of the New York Times Freakonomics blog attempts to get to the root (ha!) of the issue—one that’s been getting some blog dirt due to Obama’s proclaimed beetphobia. Wolfers is from Australia, where, he says, everyone loves beets, even kids who otherwise hate veggies. Burgers down under are typically topped with beetroot, and the stuff is so popular that Wolfers says he once won a student election by campaigning to bring it back to his college cafeteria. So what’s with Americans? Are there legitimate reasons for the stateside hatred of beets, or do the roots just need better marketing?

Blog commenters offer a variety of theories. Maybe it’s because most Americans have only had canned or pickled beets? But this doesn’t address the fact that Australians mostly eat canned and pickled beets and love them. Is it a hatred learned from one’s parents? A generations-old bias toward beets as Polish peasant food? Or do beets truly “taste like dirt”?

As usual with the Freakonomics blog, there are many questions but few answers. One thing’s for sure: beets are good for you. Maybe President-elect Obama should read this Chowhound thread on recipes for beet haters.