Those bags of “baby” carrots they sell these days – great invention. Kudos to the marketing genius who came up with them. I’m sure the carrot industry is enjoying boom times by selling pre-bite-sized bits o’ carrots. I definitely buy a lot more carrots because of them – bag o’ carrots, tub o’ hummus, healthy snack, yay.
But what are the carrots, actually? They’re not “baby” carrots – that wouldn’t be cost effective – so they’re probably cut and shaped from regular-size carrots. What happens to the rest of the carrots after processing? Do they just throw it out? or shred it and sell it to the packaged salad people? or start a carrot cake sideline? or what?
I don’t like to buy baby carrots because I think they’re dirty. All kinds of microscopic activity going on between them in that plastic bag, with no skin to protect them against such tiny nasties. And their surface roughed up by tumbling the skin off of them, so I don’t feel like they can be as thoroughly washed. It’s my theory (I made this up, so I’m probly wrong) that, skin on, their immune system remains intact, and they stay pretty healthy and clean. Skin off, cut up, not so much.
I got baby carrots twice. The last bag was funkified straight from the store with hidden rotten carrots because they spoil so quickly sans skin. Hidden rotten carrots that go dumped into my beautiful steak salad.
Scraping is a pain in the ass, but the rotten carrots scared and disgusted me something fierce. I now prefer my carrots uncircumcised.
Those are actually fetus carrots. Baby carrots are what go for regular sized carrots at groceries. Beware the fully grown carrots that escape their dangerous youth. These monsters weigh half a ton and patrol the wilderness looking for those that killed their young.
I’ve done a slightly worse job than that - picking out rancid potatoes and the occasional potato-shaped dead rat from a conveyor belt in a cold, dusty barn. I got paid in potatoes, and not a very tasty variety either (Marfona - avoid!).
I’m rather horrified to find that some baby carrots are shaped from bigger carrots. What a wasteful process, even if the end product may be cheaper to buy than the real thing.
Most minature veg (e.g. baby sweetcorn, courgettes, mange-tout, baby-carrots) are juvenile specimens of varieties bred to be tasty and heavy-cropping when young. Let them grow to maturity and they may get several times bigger, but will be of poor flavour and as tough as old boots.
BTW, doesn’t the waste from the carrot-lathes go to make animal fodder or something? I would have thought it would at least be suitable for pigs (after all, this is true of the end product of the carrot-shaping exercise)
I’m going by memory from an NPR (?) story I heard a year or so ago. Baby carrots are a gold mine for the carrot growers. The scrapings are perfectly human edible carrot and are sold and used in any normal human food product that would use shredded carrots - soup, baking, etc. So unhorrify yourself!
In addition, apparently typical carrots have been bred over the years for one all important feature- being able to handle the carrot with the greens on it without the greens breaking off before the consumer bought the carrots. Not taste, not nutrition, but packaging. Freed from this restiction, the baby carrot growers bred for long and skinny and increased sugar content to make the carrots taste better. This makes sense to me as the carrots I grow are much bitterer than baby carrots.
And anecdotally, although once we did experience the disgusting bag of slimy
baby carrots, in an unopened bag they seem to last much longer in my fridge than normal carrots. And once we open a bag it usually gets eaten far before it has time to spoil.
I had always seen baby carrots as a boon from modern technology - I eat more carrots, they last longer, the growers make more profit, and all the waste is used. But now that I know most baby carrots are grown by a huge corporation my thrill of increasing the farmers paycheck has gone down.
Good point. That’s another reason home grown carrots taste so nice - they’re varieties bred primarily for flavour, not convenience. The carrot variety Juwarot has more vitamin A than any other variety, but isn’t cultivated commercially as the green tops break off easily, making harvesting more difficult. Simultaneous maturation of a crop is important for commercial growers, but usually undesirable for the home garden.
Watch out for the symptoms of carrot addiction if you eat lots of carrots on a regular basis. Symptoms are: A craving for carrots, a mild carrot withdrawal (feels a little like nicotine or caffeine withdrawal IMHO), and an increasingly orange hue to one’s skin tone. If taken to the extreme, the liver fails under the burden of a vitamin A overdose.
Further resources for the unreconstructed carrotophile can be found here at the World Carrot Museum.