Do carrots really improve your vision? Keep reading for the answer, but for Anitress Muhammad, owner of The Dangling Carrot, her response is an unequivocal, “yes!” as she fulfills her vision of helping the community.
Anitress’ vision for business is that it should be a positive, selfless calling. By partnering with Market Wagon, she’s able to do just that and provide a lot more customers her delicious carrot-based goods including slices of carrot split cheesecake and carrot cake muffins with cream cheese frosting.
The journey to the carrot patch all started because of Anitress’ day job. She’s a case manager at Better Family Life, Inc., a non-profit community development corporation that works to stabilize inner-city neighborhoods in St. Louis. Part of her job involves distributing food from the St. Louis Food Bank to the local community.
One fateful November day in 2019, there were some leftovers from a 50-pound bag of carrots. Instead of letting the orange bounty go to waste, Anitress decided to use the vegetables herself and make carrot pie and carrot cupcakes—and the roots for her company began to sprout.
Anitress inherited her mother’s joy of baking. She found success immediately with a family fundraising event around the holidays that proved her baked goods were delicious because of a secret ingredient—and no, it’s not carrots!
"It's love,” maintains Anitress. “Customers feel it, they taste it, they know it, they trust it. Everybody that knows me, knows that I'm vibrant, energized, excited, excitable and that goes into my baking with The Dangling Carrot! I believe in energy."
Anitress was immediately inspired by the success of her baking experiments—and started taking requests from friends and even customers of what else she could make with carrots. Working with the vegetable also reminded her of an idiom that stuck with her since childhood—striving for and chasing the carrot dangling on a stick.
Thanks to her background as a yoga instructor, life skills coach and believer in holistic medicine, Anitress made a distinct choice to have carrots in each of her delicacies because of the vegetable’s health effects as well as digestive ease. In a single moment her all-carrot approach and a new business enterprise, The Dangling Carrot, came together as an opportunity to further connect with her local community.
“My yoga classes aren’t always full but when I’m selling my desserts, my table is usually empty,” Anitress said.
She heard about Market Wagon from a coworker who also sells her homemade foods on the online platform. Anitress loves Market Wagon because it has helped her grow her customers far beyond just her personal network of family, friends and neighbors. She’s found a loyal fanbase in places she wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.
“The carrot cheesecake is my number one seller every week since I've been Market Wagon. There's even a client that buys it every week,” she said with a laugh. “So, it's been going really, really good.”
But the reason Anitress continues to sell on Market Wagon goes far beyond the revenue. Like everything else she does, she feels a deeper connection and community every week she drops off her treats before heading to work. The other vendors and Market Wagon employees are friends.
“I love the idea of Market Wagon being a farmers market at a greater scale. Because I see the people bringing in asparagus that looks amazing. I don't even see it at the store like that. The meats and the cheese—I mean, everything that you would want to get from the store—and that it's local, the support of the local vendors.”
Now to answer the question presented at the beginning of this story and carrot’s impact on eye health—while it’s a myth that eating carrots can help improve your eyesight at night, the vegetable contains lots of beta-carotene (which also gives the carrot its orange color) which our bodies turn to Vitamin A, which does help maintain eye health.
But thanks to Anitress and The Dangling Carrot, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. She hopes one day she can begin her own urban farm in St. Louis and teach youth to grow vegetables for themselves as well as create their own farm-to-table products.
“Whatever age and stage you are, if you work and believe, you can do it,” Anitress said, who will proudly turn 60 in the fall.
As she is excited for what’s ahead in her professional life, there’s also plenty of excitement in her personal life too. On June 26, she married her husband William, who has been a big help and support in her life.
When it comes to Market Wagon, the carrot split cheesecake remains her most popular item. It is available both as a whole cake as well as by the slice. She also offers her large carrot pie as well as a personal-sized carrot pie which are both quite popular. Meanwhile, Anitress’ favorite item is the two-layer carrot cake because she loves the icing and simplicity of a classic.