In the sixth month of my pregnancy and approximately the fifth month of not being able to keep my eyes open for more than an hour at a time, I dragged myself to the doctor's office to get tested for anemia. Sure enough, our blessed daughter appears to be hogging all of my red blood cells, no doubt practicing for the day when she will take command of everything else in our lives. Fortunately, the anemia can be alleviated with the help of iron supplements and a diet of iron-rich foods. Unfortunately, that means learning to eat beets.
The problem with beets, as half the world knows, is that they taste like dirt. (The other half—beet-lovers—prefers the euphemism "earthy," but they're not fooling anyone.) As food dislikes go, beets are a popular one. Australians apparently like the vegetable so much that they eat their burgers with a thick slice of beet on top. But in the U.S., it's hard to find people who grew up liking beets. Far more common are tales of negative childhood experiences with canned beets, gritty magenta slabs that contaminated everything else on the plate.
Even the foodies on Chowhound have at least a half dozen threads devoted to overcoming beet antipathy. (My favorite description: "They taste like basement.") And beet-haters were heartened to learn in November 2008 that the incoming president was one of us. "I always avoid eating them," Barack Obama told the Associated Press shortly after his election. Sure enough, beets are nowhere to be found in the White House vegetable garden.