Baby carrots have become an American staple, but how carrot-like are they, really? Unfortunately, we have some ugly truths for you.
According to National Geographic, approximately 46% of fruits and vegetables are consider too ugly for regular sale. As far as carrots go, conventional supermarkets began requiring certain aesthetic requirements of their carrots in the 1980s – to help cut down on waste, some farmers took the carrots the supermarket wouldn’t buy, cut them into bite-size pieces, and sold them as “baby-cut carrots,” which we commonly now call “baby carrots.”
REAL BABY CARROTS? NOT SO OFTEN.
Of course, there are real baby carrots – carrots pulled before they’ve grown to full stage – and some people prefer the taste of baby carrots to regular carrots, so you can still sometimes find them in the supermarket. Most often, though, what is sold as baby carrots are baby-cut carrots.
And those baby carrots have taken over the grocery store. They’re now even explicitly bred for certain traits, such as sweeter taste and brighter color (source).
The carrot industry took lots of other steps to get you to buy their baby carrots, too. Most terrifying, this means soaking the carrots in chlorine-water solution. While this is done in part to limit the risk of food-borne illnesses (and producers say it’s comparable to chlorinated tap water), it’s also done to make the carrots last longer.
And chlorine tap water isn’t safe either. Chlorine isn’t good for you – it’s a toxic pathogen! According to the EPA, Americans already consume 300-600 times the amount “safe to ingest.” And as chlorine is a persistent chemical, it doesn’t break down. Meaning you probably want to avoid it every chance you get.
Additionally, baby carrots tend to lack the nutrition of their bigger friends, as they’ve been bred for profitability and longer shelf lives. As Dr. Aruna Weerasooriya at Prairie View A&M notes, some of the best nutritional parts (phytochemical, for instance) are absent in baby carrots.
If chlorinated baby carrots concern you – and they should! – consider buying organic baby carrots, which are soaked in all-natural alternative called Citrox. You can also buy bigger carrots and chop them yourself, of course.
Image Credits: Flickr