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Do You Know Where Baby Carrots Come From?

Do You Know Where Baby Carrots Come From?

Baby carrots are touted as the perfect healthy snack, for both children and adults. But if you’ve ever picked a fresh carrot from the garden, you know that they’re rarely as uniformly shaped as the bite-sized carrots you’ll find bagged in the grocery store.

There are two different ways that you can produce a baby carrot, and unfortunately, their stories aren’t as cute as you might think.

1. A “true” baby carrot is a carrot grown to the “baby stage”, which is to say long before the root reaches its mature size. Sometimes they’re picked early to thin the crop, and sometimes they’re grown to this size on purpose as a specialty crop (read: expensive).

2. Most of the baby carrots you buy in the store are actually “manufactured” from larger carrots that are deemed too twisted or knobbly for commercial sale. Because of the conventional food system’s obsession with appearance (not taste or nutritional content), some commercial growers discard as much as 440 tons of carrots a day because of their imperfections.

Now, instead of trashing the imperfect carrots, manufacturers use industrial peelers to shave these larger carrots down into more attractive finger-foods. Despite the large amount of waste this generates, simply because people don’t like ugly-but-perfectly-edible carrots, it isn’t the most disturbing fact about baby carrots.

Because the “manufactured” baby carrots no longer have their thick protective skins, industry standards dictate they must be dipped in a bath of chlorine water as an antimicrobial treatment. If you’ve ever stored baby carrots in the fridge for a few days longer than you should, you’ve probably seen a strange white film forming on them–that’s the carrot drying out prematurely .

Still wanna pack a sandwich baggie of baby carrots in your kid’s lunch box? Yuck–probably not.

Keep in mind that if you purchase only certified organic baby carrots, it’s likely that they’ve been washed in a citrus-based non-toxic solution called Citrox instead–but with all the scandals about false organic labeling that have hit the news lately, do you really want to take that chance?

Besides growing and cutting your own carrots, here are some healthier alternatives:
5 Best Snacks For Energy
Super Lunch Box Ideas For Home Or Office
7 Vegan Finger Food Recipes

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Image Credit: Flickr - Richard Faulder

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221 comments

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7:28AM PST on Feb 16, 2014

I wonder how the carrot industry treats beautiful carrots?
Do they still treat them with chlorine to kill bacteria?
I don't purchase baby carrots but I do purchase full sized and cut them down to snack size.

5:28PM PST on Jan 18, 2013

The white film IS natural. If you pulled a carrot from your own garden and cut it, then put it in the refrigerator, the same white film would form on the cut surface. It's just the way a carrot looks when it dries out. http://www.snopes.com/food/tainted/carrots.asp

9:47PM PST on Mar 9, 2011

well you have a mommy carrot and a daddy carrot and.....

2:57PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

I use to but won't be anymore after reading this article. Thanks.

12:14PM PST on Jan 29, 2011

Instead of just believing this write up which improperly characterizes the article, I suggest you read the original article - http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/260034. It discusses the facts and you can then make your own conclusion.

9:29AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

I bought these carrots a few times, but after I noticed a white film forming on them, I stopped buying them. The white film just didn't look natural to me. My grandmother used to grow her own carrots and other veggies, and they just shrunk in size and wilted when they were no longer fresh. Baby carrots stay hard even if they are bad, and develop this nasty white thing on them.
What upsets me if that perfectly good carrots that don't conform to the industry standards of "beauty" get turned into such monsters. Vegetables shouldn't look uniformal. In nature they never do.
I am happy I live in NYC with all the farmer's markets and buy perfectly dirty and deformed carrots that taste real and not watery like conventional ones.

8:11AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Egads, that's terrifying! I think I'll stick with larger carrots and just cut them myself from now on!

7:37AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

here's an idea..use a knife to cut normal sized carrots into bite sizes.

7:25AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Okay, I will definitely buy organic from now on, but as for the waste part, wouldn't those imperfect carrots have been trashed anyway? At least some of the carrot is making it out of the waste bin & into the food chain!

6:28PM PST on Jan 25, 2011

Oh, here we go. More craziness from the food industry. I rarely buy "baby" carrots, but will never buy them again. Cheaper, better to chop my veggies myself, anyway. Thanks for the information.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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