I’ve always felt that there was something not quite right about baby carrots. They come in a bag of water, while big carrots don’t. They sometimes taste like they’ve been dunked in a swimming pool, which big carrots definitely don’t. I’ve never been able to grow a baby carrot either! But they are orange like carrots and crunchy like carrots so they must be real carrots…right? I assumed so, so I continued enjoying my convenient swimming pool carrots until just last year, when someone told me that baby carrots are just shaved down big carrots that are soaked in chlorine. WHAT?!!
After some research it turns out that there are actually two types of baby carrots:
- True baby carrots, which are just normal carrots that are harvested before they reach full maturity, and
- Manufactured baby carrots, which are the baby carrots we are most familiar with.
The idea of manufactured baby carrots came from farmer Mike Yurosek in the late 1980’s. He was looking for ways to reduce the number of wasted carrots from his harvest, that is, carrots too knobbly, damaged or small to sell. So he decided to peel the “waste” carrots, and cut them down to a smaller size, thus creating the baby carrots we know today. Very resourceful, right?
What about the chlorine?
The FDA does require manufactured baby carrots to be rinsed with a very diluted chlorine/water mixture before being packaged to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. Most other ready-to-eat vegetables are also prepared this way. The water in the bag of baby carrots you buy at the grocery store is simply filtered tap water to keep the carrots hydrated, as they are already peeled and no longer have their skin to protect them.
So manufactured baby carrots are just as safe as regular carrots then?
Baby carrots actually contain the same nutrition as naturally grown carrots, they are just smaller pieces of a big carrot.
As for the chlorine, the interesting thing to consider is that the chlorine concentration in the water the carrots are rinsed with, is said to be similar to that coming out of your kitchen tap. This then begs the question, what is the difference between buying manufactured baby carrots rinsed with chlorinated water, and you buying fresh carrots and rinsing them off in your own chlorinated tap water?
Truly some food for thought!
If baby carrots are just rinsed with chlorinated water and not soaked in it, then why don’t the vegetables I rinse off at home taste like chlorine, especially if the concentration of chlorine is supposed to be similar? It doesn’t quite add up to me. I think I’m just going to stick with peeling and cutting big carrots to make my own baby carrots!
How do you feel about manufactured baby carrots?
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