Baby Carrots: The Frugal Idea That Isn't

By Andrea Karim on 14 May 2007 (Updated 24 June 2011) 108 comments

If you are a health-oriented kind of person, and you need a quick, nutritious snack that doesn't require lots of slurping, what do you reach for? Rice cakes, I feel, have been more or less abandoned by people who understand a thing or two about the glycemic index (PDF). No, chances are that if you are looking for a healthy snack, you probably reach for a small baggie of baby carrots. (See also: 6 Healthy Snacks That Won't Break the Bank)

I used to do the same, but these days, I eschew the baby carrot. Here's why.

For those of you who don't know, baby carrots aren't really baby carrots. I was surprised at how many people didn't know that when the topic came up at work the other day. I suppose it's an easy mistake to make — baby carrots are small, they're sweet, and...well, they're small. And they're called BABY. Isn't that enough?

Baby carrots are not young carrots, but rather small pieces of carrots that are chopped and whittled down to look like small carrots. They are peeled, and washed, and insanely convenient. USA Today featured an article a couple of years ago about the origin of the baby carrot, and I have to say, I'm impressed.

History

The story of the baby carrot is an interesting study in contrasts. The baby carrot is the brain child of Mike Yurosek, a Californian farmer who was weary of throwing away tons of carrots every year because they wouldn't sell. Anyone who has ever grown carrots in their garden knows that carrots don't always grow in perfect shapes. Some are bumpy and lumpy and ugly, and even if they taste wonderful, they won't sell in a supermarket if they don't fit that ideal carrot shape.

That bugged Yurosek. And apparently, feeding tons and tons of ugly carrots to livestock wasn't the answer.

Culls are carrots that are too twisted, knobby, bent or broken to sell. In some loads, as many as 70% of carrots were tossed. And there are only so many discarded carrots you can feed to a pig or a steer, says Yurosek, now 82 and retired. "After that, their fat turns orange," he says.

I believe this. As someone who once went on a baby carrot binge and subsequently turned a light shade of orange, I can attest that beta carotene is a strange substance indeed.

In 1986, Yurosek came up with the idea of taking the ugly carrots and cutting them into small pieces of more or less uniform appearance.

First he had to cut the culls into something small enough to make use of their straight parts. "The first batch we did, we did in a potato peeler and cut them by hand," Yurosek says. Then he found a frozen-food company that was going out of business and bought an industrial green-bean cutter, which just happened to cut things into 2-inch pieces. Thus was born the standard size for a baby carrot.

Next, Yurosek sent one of his workers to a packing plant and loaded the cut-up carrots into an industrial potato peeler to take off the peel and smooth down the edges. What he ended up with was a little rough but still recognizable as the baby carrot of today.

Thus, the baby carrot is a product of frugality and an abhorrence of waste, which are two ideas that I can totally get behind. I hate wasting food. I love the idea that a product that might otherwise not be sold can be repackaged and sold. But, and there's always a but....

Yurosek then sent samples of the baby carrots to Von's, a supermarket chain in California that is related to Safeway, and it was love at first sight.

The babies were an economic powerhouse. Stores paid 10 cents a bag for whole carrots and sold them for 17 cents. They paid 50 cents for a 1-pound package of baby carrots and sold them for $1. By 1989, more markets were on board, and the baby-carrot juggernaut had begun.

Ah, there's the rub. Baby carrots are, by and large, more expensive than regular carrots. I'm honestly impressed by the thinking that produced this product, but still — baby carrots are just chopped up, whittled down rejects, and we pay more for them? Well, I'll address that later.

It's the taste, stupid

I stopped buying baby carrots a while ago. It just so happened that I was at a farmer's market a couple summers ago, and ended up buying some dark purple carrots out of curiosity. I thought that they might taste strange, but when I tried one, I was surprised to see that they tasted like... well, like carrots. But the carrot taste was something that I realized I hadn't experienced in at least 10 years.

As someone who had been eating baby carrots for a long time, I had honestly forgotten what a carrot tastes like. Baby carrots are nice — they are usually crispy and sweet, but they are largely flavorless. They don't have that carrot-y taste and smell. It's a tough taste to describe, but it's very distinct. There are many varieties of carrots, of course, but most carrots that you can buy in a supermarket, the kind with a top of green leaves and visible roots, taste and smell distinctly different than a baby carrot, which doesn't taste or smell like much of anything.

>Since trying the first purple carrot, I simply can't go back to baby carrots. While conveniently packaged and pretty handy as finger food, they just don't have that taste. A few months ago, I brought a bunch of organic carrots to my friend's for dinner. I cut off the tops, washed them, and handed one to my friend. He looked at it as though it was some sort of alien life form.

"Just try it," I said. "I know it looks like something that grew in the ground, but I think you'll like it."

He took a super-crunchy bite, and his eyes grew wide. He crunched for a long time, then said, "Huh." He's been hooked every since.

There's just something inherently tasty about carrots, and I don't think that the baby variety have that same taste and texture.

In addition, baby carrots are more expensive than regular carrots. At my local grocery store, baby carrots are often twice the cost of regular-sized carrots. The price difference per pound ranged $0.50 to more than $1. Even Bunny Luve, the brand of carrots from the man who brought us the baby carrot, are cheaper if you buy the whole carrots than if you buy the pseudo-baby carrots.

UPDATE: *Finally, although I didn't realize this when I first wrote this article: baby carrots are made out of a variety of carrot known as the Imperator. They are bred to grow faster and ripen quickly, and because of this, they only have 70% of the beta carotene of a normal carrot.

But they're so popular!

The success of baby carrots speaks to two things about American culture that sort of bug me:

  1. The desire for food that is uniform in appearance and taste.
  2. The desire for food to be sterile, already prepared and washed, and packaged for quick, mindless eating.

It's not that I don't understand these desires, because it's easy to confuse uniformity with quality. I can see why someone who has never grown veggies might look askance at a twisted, bumpy carrot with soil still clinging to it. But imperfect food is still perfectly edible, and incredibly delicious. I'm not advocating accepting rotten apples or wilted lettuce, but I think we've become lousy consumers if we think that the shape of a carrot will affect its flavor.

Why do we care?

And anyway, when was the last time that a carrots appearance mattered? I throw carrots in many dishes, but they are usually sliced or at least chopped, so if one is twisted, it really doesn't make a damn bit of difference. As for convenience — yes, baby carrots are washed and peeled already, but honestly, how long does it take to wash a carrot? Honestly, I buy bunches of carrots from the farmer's market, and I can testify that it takes all of 15 seconds to prep one for consumption. Mind you, I don't peel mine. But think about it: time is precious, but what's an extra minute of food prep?

I was a little hesitant about criticizing baby carrots, because I really like the idea that popular products can be made out of a substance that would otherwise be wasted. But I also think it's rather silly to spend so much more to eat "manufactured" vegetables. In the same way that those plastic containers of sliced honeydew melon are an incredible rip-off (costing sometimes four times more per unit cost, even accounting for rind weight), baby carrots are a good idea that doesn't serve us well.

As a frugal shopper, I advise everyone I know to go back to basic carrots. Bugs Bunny would be proud (or upset by increased demand, who knows?). Here are some carrot tips:

  • Buy the slender, smaller versions (6-9 inches long), as the really big and thick carrots can be woody and tough.
     
  • I read once that leaving the dirt on the carrots actually helps them keep longer, but I never have mine for more than a day or two before I eat them, so I can't testify if this is true or not.
     
  • I like the buy the carrots with the leaves still attached because the leaves don't keep very long — if the leaves are still fresh, I know that the carrots aren't very old.
     
  • You can pretty much chop up a bigger carrot (or just break it in half) to fit in a small tupperware container like you use for those baby carrots that you take to work with you.
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Guest's picture
Cheryl

Yeah. I know they are just whittled down versions of real carrots. I know they are more expensive. But I still bought some last week. In my defense, they were on sale. I have some in my lunchbox today. I will guiltily eat them.

Guest's picture
srah

Yeah, I'm guilty of buying baby carrots all the time. But it is nice sometimes, for a change, to buy a real carrot, peel it and then eat it whole while pretending to be Bugs Bunny. :)

Guest's picture
ruth

I never buy baby carrots. Figured I could cut them up myself. Incidentally, I also posted an entry about carrots on my blog today.

Guest's picture

I buy baby carrots all of the time. I should probably be less lazy, and buy the normal carrots instead. :)

Lynn Truong's picture

i always wondered why i generally loved carrots, cooked or shredded raw in my salads, but i couldn't stand the taste of baby carrots, which tasted like cardboard to me.

Andrea Karim's picture

Hey, if you get 'em on sale, and you really like them, by all means - enjoy. I just like the taste of "real" carrots better. I know baby carrots are real carrots, but they are a sweeter variety without much taste. They do, however, have a wonderfully satisfying crunch.

Guest's picture
Martha

If the baby carrot loses flavor, I wonder if it loses some nutritional quality as well? Generally, each time you tamper with food from the natural state, you lose nutrition.

Guest's picture
Sarah

I heard baby carrots don't have the fiber that real carrots have. But maybe thats because they are peeled.

Guest's picture
Guest

Yep. "Baby" carrots have almost no nutritional value. That's because the skin is where the good stuff is, and it's the same with apples (but not bananas or oranges, thank goodness), so those peeled ready to eat apples are also like baby carrots- washed, whittled and bagged, sold at a ridiculous markup and all uniform and crisp. The "babies" have a little fiber and vitamin A, but not as much as the whole ones do.

Andrea Karim's picture

Something I JUST learned

The “baby” carrots we buy in the supermarket are not really babies but a variety bred to ripen faster and grow longer so that they can be peeled and cut into three pieces. These “baby” carrots contain only about 70 percent as much beta carotene by weight as regular carrots because the older the carrot when harvested, the more beta carotene it contains.

However, the carrots that I buy to eat aren't that old, because really old carrots are kind of tough to eat. So the carrots that I advocate buying and the baby carrots are probably similarly nutritious.

Guest's picture
FlatGreg

I only buy carrots w/the green tops on them now, after having tried them a year back. The taste just can't be beat. Don't forget to trim all but 1" of the stem off once you get home though, since the leaves will pull moisture out of the carrot over time.

Guest's picture
Carlos

I *love it*, it's true growing all your own food is great and nutritious and frugal.

I sincerely hope this article convinces more people that baby carrots are evil so they go back to eating twinkies and highly refined sugar products.

Then we have a win on many fronts!

- (the best) is disgusting fat people will get even fatter and select themselves out of the gene pool (yay! hotter chicks for the rest of us).

- hopefully then carrot farmers will go back to wasting carrots which are good cow food (even if they're organic) anyway, or better yet, they'll just switch to growing more corn for the increase demand in sugar.

YAY.

---
PS. all this was sarcastic. Thanks for inspiring paranoia in your readers and attacking one of the perhaps few positive technological trends in foods in the past 10 years. Why not attack bottled water instead? There's a trend that's actually pretty evil when examined from both energy-use and public-health perspectives (water. it's heavy and it ain't got flouride). Or perhaps why not mention that carrots like yours could make a better baby carrot product?

Oh wait, flouride's probably in your list of evils too? And the last one?

What a worthless read. Instead of contributing positively to perhaps improve the snacks, you cry woe and doom about how evil they are. I'll say it again: totally worthless.

Andrea Karim's picture

No, really - you seem to be able to write, but can you read? Because nothing, and I mean, NOTHING you said about my article is even close to true. I mean, it might be a worthless read (I'll let the readers be the judge of that), but nowhere did I advocate junk food consumption, wasting produce, or claim that baby carrots are evil. In fact, all I did was say that I like regular carrots better: they taste better, they are cheaper, and the don't involve any processing.

Why on earth would I want a better baby carrot product when I like regular carrots as they are?

I'm just wondering if maybe you read the intro and didn't realize that there was more to the article than the first paragraph?

And Carlos... lay off the fluroide. I hear it's no good for you.

Maly's picture
Maly

you can find it here . And continued here . And here. Maybe you should have double checked before trying to offer condescending suggestions to one of Wise Bread's best writers. She already beat you to the punch long ago.

Carlos, what a useless and bitter post. Instead of contributing positively to this discussion about consumerism, health and economics or posting about alternative snacks, you cry and moan about how "worthless" this article is are. I'll say it again: totally useless and bitter. 

And since you're such a wonderful writer who had to point out that you were being sarcastic for most of the your post, I'm guessing you're the one who's not too great on picking up on tone. So, FYI, I'm mocking you and satirizing your incredibly bitter post.  

Guest's picture
Guest

Is missing the point of the article your definition of sarcastic?

(I'm pissed I spent this much time replying to an irrelevant comment.)

Guest's picture
PENIX

I like baby carrots, but they taste nothing like real carrots. By "real", I mean organic. Carrots in stores are bred for their looks and for how long they keep, not for taste. Organic carrots are much better.

Guest's picture
Briana

We buy baby carrots all the time, as well as 'real' carrots ... we feed them to our dog as puppy treats and also take them in our lunches and eat them as snacks. I actually never wondered where 'baby' carrots came from ... which is kind of disturbing. I did have the experience of eating a bit of chopped carrot as I was making dinner, and I did notice that the flavour was better than the baby carrots I'd eaten for lunch. Maybe we'll try switching to just regular carrots for a while, since they are cheaper.

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

While we always welcome criticism, I feel you are basing your criticism on a very selective and incomplete reading of the article.

Andrea said: 

"As a frugal shopper, I advise everyone I know to go back to basic carrots."

I don't think anyone thought Andrea wanted people to go back to twinkies instead of carrots.  And just because "baby" carrots are better than twinkies doesn't mean we can't criticize it for not being as good as actual carrots. 

Having said that, we do appreciate your story suggestion regarding bottled water.  I made Andrea write up that post just for you: here you go.
 

 

Maly's picture
Maly

I am staring guiltily at the baby carrots in my fridge now! =) They were on sale and were tagged "organic" (probably a huge marketing lie anyway). I sure would like to try these "purple carrots" people are discussing. Interesting .. . .

Guest's picture

Orange carrots are a color that humans bred into carrots. Carrots are naturally purple.

To find purple carrots, ask for "Heirloom Carrots" at a farmers market. They're often smaller than orange ones.

--Michael

Guest's picture
Guest

I will not buy a tomato from the grocery store for the same reason. I bought one long ago that didn't look ripe to me so I left it out on the window sill. After at least a week of it not changing color I opened it up and the seeds had actually started sprouting. That's just not right, besides not having any flavor. I have seen "ugly tomatoes" in the grocery store now which are the heirloom variety. Those do have flavor and aren't overly genetically modified for looks.

Guest's picture
David

>> love at first site

It's "love at first sight".

Spelling errors really detract from a good, informative article.

Andrea Karim's picture

Spelling errors do detract, and for some reason "site" is one of those I can never get right. You should have seen the doozy that I had earlier today: I had "days" as "das".

Will, please remember to fire our editor, OK? Also, I'd like my trailer stocked with Fiji water.

Maly's picture
Maly

but  the outside stayed the same? blargh, that is really scary!

Guest's picture

Informative and fun post.

Guest's picture

I own & occupy half of a duplex, and I let my tenants use a portion of my garden for growing their own vegetables. Last year, I noticed that almost of all their veggies went unharvested - they fell to the ground & simply rotted away. At the time, I thought they were just being lazy about it, since most everything looked perfectly fine to me. When preparing this year's garden, I asked if they planned on planting again.

The response:

"Oh, I don't know. We didn't really get anything good last year - everything that grew was dirty and had bugs on it."

And it hit me - they had never seen actual garden vegetables before. Somehow, they think that the vegetables that they see in the supermarket magically just grow that way - dirt-free, bug-free, perfectly misted, with a nice wax polish. Stunning.

Guest's picture
KirkH

You should rename this article to "A Modest Proposal" as in ”I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled ...”

http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html

Guest's picture
Daria

Thanks for the article. My husband and I switched back to "real" carrots awhile ago because we became convinced that baby carrots don't have much taste. It's a little more work to peel and shop, but worth the extra taste.

Guest's picture
Guest Dean Lund

I may be wrong, but I have always thought that the best & most vitamins were at the skin or barely under it----i.e. don't peel carrots, but scrub them with a stiff brush.

Guest's picture
GuestAnnabelle

I believe there is an unjustice done here regarding baby carrots. and I believe, a lie.
Every carrot, whether large or small will have a core in the middle. Baby carrots all have a core,although not very noticeably because of their size.But just have a look next time you bite into one of these precious little tid-bits. And yes, they are tasty and crisp and I will keep on buying them because I don't buy into this lie.

Guest's picture
Jonathan

Thanks for an interesting, informative post. You're right about baby carrots lack of 'carrot' taste. Any idea why that is? To me, baby carrots taste like an edible version of particle board--like they've been ground up, mixed with water and molded into pellet shape. But since they're just shaved down to two inches, why are they so bland?

Despite their lack of flavor, I, too, appreciate how baby carrots prevent waste from culls. You've hit on an interesting topic--uniformity. This form of waste happens with virtually all produce. Fruits and veggies that aren't uniform (too big, too small, wrong shape, etc.) are tossed. Some produce have for alternate uses, like canning or stewing or feeding animals. But others don't. Many types of produce that don't look just right aren't even harvested.

The practice of only using uniform produce isn't a good one, but it's based on presumed consumer demand. Maybe uniformity is what Americans want, given the abundance of restaurant chains. But if you don't want to see perfectly good produce tossed, tell that to your store's produce manager, shop at a farmer's market, or--even better--take home a fruit or veg. that's a little odd looking. As Andrea said, when you're just cutting up that fruit or vegetable, who cares if it looks a bit strange?

Andrea Karim's picture

I believe the taste has to do with the variety of carrot that is used (Imperator).

The USA Today article that I linked is pretty interesting, and strangely enough, the USDA spokesman here mentions the carrot taste, but fails to mention that baby carrots lack it:

"Balancing these with the desirable sweetness and juiciness is a delicate task, Simon says. The faintly bitter taste is essential to what makes a carrot taste like a carrot. "I've had carrots that have more of a flavor note of peas or corn," he says.

Get the carrot too juicy and it breaks in the field. "There are some carrot varieties so succulent they're amazing, but they're like glass," Simon says. "Consumers like juicy carrots, but if they're all broken, you can't sell them."

Guest's picture
Guest

Actually, this article is describing "baby-cut carrots." This is an important distinction from real baby carrots, which are carrots picked early when they are very small. True baby carrots will only be found in fine restaurants, maybe the farmer's market, or your backyard. All small, packaged carrots at the supermarket are baby-cut carrots. If these packages are labeled as baby carrots, this is a violation of the FDA's Standards of Identity.

Guest's picture
Guest JahanAra Sachedina

I come from Pakistan and you should eat the carrots there - especially in winter - They are sweet sweet sweet!!! You don't need to baby them or anything. Just eat it. They are fabulous!!!

Guest's picture
Jenn

Well, you're not just comparing "baby carrots vs. regular carrots" here. There are three factors involved: 1) the carrots you like are not processed, 2) the carrots you like are not the same variety (as you pointed out in the update), and 3) the carrots you like are from a farmers market rather than a supermarket, where the quality is usually much better. I'd argue that the third factor could be more important than the other two.

It seems like supermarket produce has really gone to the birds in the last 5 or 10 years. It's amazing to me how completely flavorless everything is there. Particularly strawberries, cucumber, and watermelon. Blech.

Guest's picture
feonixrift

With that much demand (and profit), are they still made from only waste carrots or have we moved to efficiently feeding easy to mechanically process (consistent shape) carrots into the baby-making machines?

Guest's picture
Brian

Cleaning carrots can scruff the surface and increase oxidation. Probably a big impact however.

Also if you buy tomato's fresh, don't put them in the fridge!

Guest's picture
Guest

Great article! I grew up eating home grown carrots. Yummy! The thing with carrots is that they grow in 2 sections. If you look at the end after you cut it, you see a core in the middle, and the 'meat' around the core. Similar to the rings in a tree. If you nibble the 'meat' off the core it is very sweet and tasty and you're left with a hard, sometimes stringy, slightly bitter core. If you just bite and chew, you don't really notice the difference. Of course, the larger the carrot grows, the bigger (and tougher) the core. The reason those 'baby' carrots are tasteless is because they're mostly or all core! All the good stuff is removed in the processing. This is what I explained to my son last week when I told him why we don't buy the easy baby carrots. Thank you for the added reason of less beta carotene!

Guest's picture
Mike

Very interesting article. I was especially delighted to hear of another person who turned orange as a baby from eating too many carrots! I thought I was the only one...

On topic, though, for the last two years, I have been getting my produce from a local CSA, and now I can't even touch supermarket produce anymore. The purple carrots are just amazing.

Guest's picture
factseeker

That maybe true in the USA. In Australia they sell baby carrots in the supermarkets. They are small unprocessed carrots with the skins intact. The baby carrots are just ordinary carrots with stunted growth. The baby carrots are sold in sealed 1kg plastic packs and are usually half the price of normal carrots.

Andrea Karim's picture

Hey, mate, good to know. ACTUAL baby carrots, that is, carrots that are very young, are rarely available in the US. You'd have to really look for them at a farmer's market.

Agree with what Dean Lund is saying - most veggies are better for you unpeeled. That's where all the nutrients are, apparently.

Andrea Karim's picture

There are varieties of carrots with purple skin, as I mentioned in the article. But the inside of a carrot is usually orange, even if the skin is a different color.

The carrots that I ate in Western China were really thick and short, and were either light orange or yellow.

Guest's picture
Guest

I've always wondered why there were no points on these, but nicely rounded at both ends. I envisioned a guy with a pile of carrots sitting in front of a lathe all day, and at the end of the day he takes off his goggles and his whole face is orange except for right around his eyes . . .

Guest's picture
Guest

It's true. I used to sell carrot lathes. Well, we'd recondition metal lathes and retrofit them to mill down big carrots into baby ones.

Guest's picture
Holly Shiitake

Hooray for this post! I have gotten into countless standoffs with people about this--the outside of the carrot is indeed the sweetest and and has the most nutrients, and more than just beta carotene. Even eating a little of that gritty dirt supplies oft-needed minerals! I have been anti-baby-cut carrot since they came out, spread the word of the baby carrot lie! It also drives me bonkers when people actually have the sense to buy uncut carrots but then proceed to peel them! kudos to my fellow non-peelers (mashed potatoes with the peels on, too!)

Guest's picture
jamEs

I had always wondered why they tasted different then regular carrots. I find myself I try and buy the most grotesque carrots I can find. The last time I bought one it was about 3" wide and 8" long, it was awesome.

Guest's picture
Sam

I know that this may seem weird, but I like baby carrots BECAUSE they don't taste like carrots. I'm really not a big fan of carrots, but I can handle the baby carrots because they taste less carrotty... and while they may not be as good as normal ones nutritional, they're still pretty good for you.

so there's a positive to the baby carrots, at least for me.

Andrea Karim's picture

No, that makes sense. If you're not a fan of the taste, then you're not a fan of the taste. It's good that you still make a point of trying to get all the nutrition you need. I just find it interesting that a lot of people don't know what carrots taste like at all, because they've only ever had baby carrots.

Guest's picture
Marcus

So how do you best keep carrots?
I like them but will sometime get a bag, eat a few and then not eat more, and then a couple of days latter when I want some they have gone bad.

regardless if I keep'em in the cubboard or the freezer.

So how do I best keep carrots?

Guest's picture
Guest

There are varities of carrots that are small and sweet naturally - look for Chantenay carrots.
Whole carrots or sliced carrots generally taste better as you need the cross section to get the proper taste.
Imperator carrots are used to make 'baby' carrots becuase they are long and thin and there simply is not enough smaller carrots to satisy the demand.
Carrot varities are chosen on disease resistance and breakability as well as taste so that the poorly paid farmer can actually make some money out of his crop.
Carrots are mainly washed in brush washers now as they discovered that removing a thin outer layer resulted in less 'silvering' - they virtually come pre-scrubbed.
Buy carrots in bunches with the stalk still on (it still contains some nutrients), still dirty and stick them in the fridge for best shelf life.
During the winter, the carrot plants stop growing and are covered in hay to protect them from frost so for half the season they are actually stored undergound.

Guest's picture
Mia

I buy bunches of baby carrots at a farmer's market. They are real, and small, and whole - NOT whittled down from larger carrots. Sometimes it is worth looking beyond what's on offer in supermarkets.

Guest's picture
sam

I find in the past few years that I can not buy carrots that don't have a cold storage flavor. Even the ones in the restaurants taste like that. What are they doing to the carrots? I love carrots but they just don't taste good anymore. Do any of the rest of you have that problem?

Guest's picture
kara

I didn't start off buying them, but somehow they just slipped into my basket and now - out of habit, there is always a bag of them in the fridge. However...this will be the last bag.
Thanks for the informative reminder!

Guest's picture
Guest

Thank you for writing about baby carrots. I actually thought they WERE evil! (Unlike your description) until I found out that they were making "good" use of otherwise wasted produce. But then, what is "good" about them? They are not delicious. They are uniform and thus boring and unnatural. They FEEL like they have been processed when you put them in your mouth. I have managed to consume a few of them, but could never, ever bring myself to purchase them. As good as vegetables are for me, I would prefer not to eat than to eat these freaks of non-nature!

I am happy for the guy who got (kind of) rich off of them and this great idea, but they are not something I want to put in my body.

As for the Twinkie lover- I wouldn't touch those either, and the existence or non-existence of baby carrots would not even bring up the thought of consuming this poison substance!

Once again, thank you for your research and explanation!

K.

Guest's picture
Guest

Thank you for writing about baby carrots. I actually thought they WERE evil! (Unlike your description) until I found out that they were making "good" use of otherwise wasted produce. But then, what is "good" about them? They are not delicious. They are uniform and thus boring and unnatural. They FEEL like they have been processed when you put them in your mouth. I have managed to consume a few of them, but could never, ever bring myself to purchase them. As good as vegetables are for me, I would prefer not to eat than to eat these freaks of non-nature!

I am happy for the guy who got (kind of) rich off of them and this great idea, but they are not something I want to put in my body.

As for the Twinkie lover- I wouldn't touch those either, and the existence or non-existence of baby carrots would not even bring up the thought of consuming this poison substance!

Once again, thank you for your research and explanation!

K.

Guest's picture
Guest

Thank you for writing about baby carrots. I actually thought they WERE evil! (Unlike your description) until I found out that they were making "good" use of otherwise wasted produce. But then, what is "good" about them? They are not delicious. They are uniform and thus boring and unnatural. They FEEL like they have been processed when you put them in your mouth. I have managed to consume a few of them, but could never, ever bring myself to purchase them. As good as vegetables are for me, I would prefer not to eat than to eat these freaks of non-nature!

I am happy for the guy who got (kind of) rich off of them and this great idea, but they are not something I want to put in my body.

As for the Twinkie lover- I wouldn't touch those either, and the existence or non-existence of baby carrots would not even bring up the thought of consuming this poison substance!

Once again, thank you for your research and explanation!

K.

Guest's picture
Guest

i just bought baby carrots today for $.79/lb while the 'regular' carrots were 2 lbs for $1.69. Baby carrots are usually about equal in price at my store otherwise I wouldn't buy them so often.

Also, anyone who's run a daycare or has more than two children can attest to the value of a cheap, healthy food that requires no prep whatsoever. They are soooo worth it.

I'd love to see other healthy foods priced at less than $1/lb, even not prepared/convenient.

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Guest

Vons. Not Von's

Fact checking FTW.

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Guest

I came to this site because I am investigating a forward that came to me about baby cut carrots being soaked in a water and chlorine solution after they have been prepared, due to there being no skin on them to protect them. Does anyone know if this is true? If so, then we are really not doing ourselves any favours by eating them, - sadly, because I love baby cut carrots!!.

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Guest Lori

I also received an e-mail about baby-cut carrots being soaked in chlorine and am wondering whether or not this is true.

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alison

Although someone remarked that the chlorine soaking was a myth debunked on snopes.com, (http://www.snopes.com/food/tainted/carrots.asp), the site in fact does say that chlorine soaking is an FDA accepted practice for all fresh cut ready-to-eat produce items.

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Guest

The company kettleproduce in fife scotland use chlorine to wash there carrots, they sell the carrots to supermarkets sainsburys, tescos and marks and spencers.

People who work at the company have been having nose bleeds, I found that this could be possibly linked to the chlorine.

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Guest

The chlorine soaking e-mail is a myth according to snopes.

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Sally Sitwell

Dude, I don't care if they are more expensive. It's the only way I can eat carrots without barfing so I think I'll get over the tag and keep buying fake baby carrots.

Andrea Karim's picture

That's a valid point. It's used to disinfect chicken, which is why much of the world doesn't want to buy chicken that has been raised and processed in the US.

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dusty

Hi Andrea,
Baby carrots get spoiled so easy that it didn't make any sense to me to buy them. That was the main reason why I don't buy them anymore.
Thank you so much for writing such an informative article!

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Margot

You wouldn’t punch a baby carrot would you?

(Boy, those people who go around posting spelling corrections must be SO busy with all that’s out there on The Internets! I am so grateful for them – you know I spent an entire hour yesterday looking for a Von’s and couldn’t find one! Now I know why…)

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Andrew

Maybe baby carrots aren't the most frugal thing and maybe they aren't the best tasting carrot you can eat, but I still think they are a good idea. They are healthy foods that are as easy to eat as fast foods. I for one barely ever eat vegetables because I'm reeeeeeally lazy and they take more time to ingest than, say, McDonald's. But baby carrots solve that problem. They're like healthy french fries. Anything that gets me to eat vegetables instead of fast food is a good thing.

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Guest

My kids will only eat baby carrots. You mentioned how we tend to like uniformity in our foods. Well, kids are obsessive in that way!

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Carlosisdumb

CARLOS...u didnt leave any advice in ur comment either. If u were so good, u would have provided a good alternative...not just use good carrots. the whole point in making baby carrots was so they didnt throw away culls. Y would they use good carrots to make baby carrots....

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Guest

Hi I have a new puppy and she loves carrots, but not the little baby ones( yes I read that they aren't really baby ones) , can she eat the green tops of the real carrots? I like the whole ones and she seemed to like the tops but I don't know if it's safe?

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Knuckboy

What would be disappointing is if when the carrots are being trimmed down, the trimmings aren't captured for juice and other uses. I have to believe they are - if not the someone needs to be shot.

If so - then baby carrots aren't that much of a waste.

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Guest

I absolutely loved baby carrots up until when I learned that the baby carrots are washed in chlorinated water (a lot more chlorine than in regular tap water) before being packaged. This helps to preserve the color. Many people do not realize the danger of chlorine and the fact that it is a very well known carcinogen (possibly cancer causing). I'd much rather cut up an organic chemical-free carrot and eat that as a snack than poison my body.

Guest's picture
Guest

Also, the fact that the FDA approved chlorine soaking for vegetables does not at ALL change the fact that chlorine is obviously dangerous. Would you really want your vegetables to be soaked in swimming pool water, which is what they are essentially doing?
I don't agree that the chlorine soaking is a myth as someone mentioned earlier, because how else would the carrots be protected from oxidation?
In my opinion I do not trust the FDA one bit. Thnk: Aspartame, sucralose etc. the EXTREMELY dangerous sweeteners that for some reason are still being marketed despite their dangers. The whole "artificial sweeteners are dangerous" is not a myth. So the point is, just because the FDA "says so" doesn't necessarily mean its safe. Think for yourself, do some research and then decide. :)

Guest's picture
denys

First of all - kudos to you for writing an article that is still getting passionate feedback 2 years after you wrote it!

As I read the article (that I did not 10 minutes after rinsing and packaging up individual bags of my "baby" carrots to make them handy grab-and-go snacks for the kids)...I reminded myself that I started going back to basics a while back and changing to "real carrots" was one of the first things I did. Cost was definitely a plus in buying the "real carrots"..but taste was an immediate bonus as well. Somewhere though, I've fallen off the wagon and started buying "baby" carrots again.

After processing some of the comments and what not...I realized - what I am teaching my kids? I mean this in a light-hearted, yet thought provoking way...as in the whole concept of "perfect" fruits and vegetables. My son, who is ten and about as picky as they can get when eating any type of food, will actually gag if he finds something that "looks weird" about anything he is eating. For example, he cannot eat crust on bread, he physically gags. We've had the discussion a million times that it is no different than than the rest of the bread...it's just one of those things that we will continue to battle about until he gets over it.

My personal confession...I have just recently started buying bagged apples...which I have never done in my 34 years of life...simply because they have bruises a lot of the time...and they aren't "perfect".

I had to admit that and get it off my chest...especially because in the last few years I've actually started growing some of my own produce in the back yard and have had to come to terms with "dirty vegetables" and the idea that "things" may live among my plants!

So, after reading this and processing everything, I say "here's to ugly fruits and vegetables!" and I'm shedding all of my thoughts of perfectness at my very next shopping trip!!!

Thanks for the very interesting and informative article!

Andrea Karim's picture

It is tough to get kids to eat things that adults enjoy - that's standard all over the world. Kid' palates are strange and finnicky, so crusty bread, spicy food, and sour things can really be displeasing to them. I used to HATE onions as a kid, and now I can't get enough of them, for instance.

I'm sure you're doing a good job teaching your kids about food, and they'll doubtlessly grow up enjoying many of the same things that you do. It just takes a while to get past that "Ew, icky!" stage. :)

My mother always pushed me to try strange and new things, and the result is that I will eat all kinds of stuff that my mother considers bizarre and gross, like natto beans.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

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Guest

there is a difference between true organic baby carrots & the baby- cut carrots you buy in the grocery store..

http://www.organicgrocerydeals.com/forums/chat-line-can-we-talk/6265-bab...

I have begun buying the Earthbound Farms brand of baby carrots and they do not get that crusty white chlorine coating.

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Victor

Isn't it just horrible? They use a solution of 100 PPM chlorine and of all the terrible choices, Vitamin C at 79% to clean vegetables. that's almost as bad as some bottled water, and even comes close to the amount of pollutants present in 'pure organic' foods. Never mind that Vitamin C is already present in carrots, and that washing them in most tap water will subject them to a higher concentration of chlorine, we should be outraged. How dare the food industry make carrots healthier? They should be natural and just as they come out of the ground. (Providing the ground is unfertilized and free from pollution) We're going to have to kill off about a third of the world's population so the rest of us can have an environment where we can have carrots that don't need to be washed. Or maybe we could all just get over it and quit worrying about a tiny bit of disinfectant in a world where people spray practically every surface with chemicals that could kill an elephant.

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Guest

Nice! And appreciated. Food safety and FDA approved processes for disinfecting fresh cut produce is well established. The conspiracy theorists can feel free to believe otherwise.

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Marilyn

Good article. For myself I grow carrots during the growing season and don't think there is any better taste. Last year I went for a spell without eating any. I brought them in, washed them off, then put them in a plastic bag with just a little bit of water, and put them in the refrigerator. 2 weeks later I took them out and they were just as crisp and tasty as the ones I ate straight from the garden.

I've tried the baby-cut carrots and would not go back to them.

My biggest problem is, where do I get fresh carrots when the winter storms are blowing in?

Guest's picture
Guest

how much sugar is in one baby carrot????

Andrea Karim's picture

Yeah, I don't think you can find terribly awesome-tasting carrots in the dead of winter. That's the downside to seasonal eating.

Guest's picture
Terri

Does the fact that baby carrots, or "imperators," are bred to grow fast mean that they are "GMO's?"

Andrea Karim's picture

Selective breeding to acheive desired traits is a longstanding agricultural practice. I have never heard it referred to as being akin to genetic modification, although the term "genetic modification" itself is a little vague, because if you think about it, all sexual reproduction is genetic modification.

Anyway, I think GM foods are foods that have had genes from other species inserted into the DNA to acheive new results, like disease resistance. So selective breeding isn't TECHNICALLY the same thing.

And, although you didn't really ask, I don't think that most people object to GMO on teh grounds that they are Frankenfoods per se (although some people surely see it is "unnatural") but because of the way that the companies who produce these crops and seeds behave in the marketplace. ADM, Monsanto, Dow Chemical - they have some practices that people find questionable.

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Guest

Excellent! I shall now try this... :D

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Guest

Well, this is not all the reasons. The taste is because of where and how they were grown. Lettuce, tomatoes, or anything grown in water generally tastes bad. There are teenagers around where I live that have never tasted a real tomato.

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Guest

If you looked a little more in the article you referenced in museum of carrots which im pretty sure that was your reference you'll see that the taste of baby carrots is different because the nutritional value of the "Manufactured" baby carrots are less then the full carrots they come from because some of the flavor and nutrition comes from the skin and just under it, as it says in that article. and also there are baby carrots that are real non manufactured carrots and are baby like because they are harvested before fully matured.

Guest's picture

On the topic of chlorine, it's worth distinguishing between the carrots being *rinsed* in chlorinated water and being *soaked* in chlorine. The former is true; the latter is not as far as I've been able to determine.

Has anyone gone to the trouble of checking to see whether the resulting carrots actually have any trace of chlorine on them, when they arrive in your kitchen?

Note also that the reported 30% reduction in beta carotene will, for some people at least, be more than compensated for by the increased consumption of carrots over all.

Chris MacDonald
http://Food-Ethics.com

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Guest

I just realized this column is over 3 years old! I'm going to comment anyway!
One thing I noticed in other web articles about baby carrots is that the variety that is used now is bred to be sweeter than other carrot varieties. Perhaps this is more recent than your column. I believe it is true. The other thing missing in this column is a mention of children. Of course, the sweetness thing is part of making them appeal more to children. In my case, if my kids eat the baby-cut, that's what I'm buying. It also makes them (well, my son, anyway) appreciate regular carrots as well because they are novel!

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Stephanie

It's hard enough being healthy in this world. My organic baby carrots keep me from grabbing something as easily snackable but unhealthy. They also are pretty cheap compared to other healthy snacks and up my veggie quantity for the day. And while it is more expensive, I am paying for convenience. Working FT and going to school make it hard enough for me to find time to workout, spend time with my husband, keep home in order, and cook all dinners from scratch to avoid heavily processed and fast foods. There are much worse things to attack than baby carrots!

Guest's picture
Sridhar

I have been eating daily one or two regular carrots peeled and chopped to inch size pieces that fir in my tupperware...

after 2 years of regular carrots today I got baby carrots for first time and they taste very different...out of curiosity searched and landed on this page...nice learning on baby carrots and I might go back to my regular carrots for that natural taste...

Guest's picture
Guest

You do realize all of the extra steps you stated in the origins of the baby carrot added cost to the product? So in turn, that makes your statement in regards to the fact whittled down baby carrots of rejects cost more than regular carrots, kind of bogus.

The fact of every consumer product is the amount of time handled adds cost to it. So by buying the machines and investing in the process to turn those rejects into preferred baby carrots, obviously adds cost to the product.

I do like your article, but when you went to the stab at baby carrots in the present while referring to the past, "beginnings" is kind of wrong.

The guy who started all of the baby carrot movement was only capitalized upon by someone who made a hybrid strain of carrot and poach the origin of the baby carrot that we all love.

Nice writing though, you grammar is far greater than mine.

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Daghead

I eat a minimum/substantial amount of produce daily, and that often includes carrots. I do not see the point of "baby" carrots, or even pealing whole carrots. All I have to do is rinse off four and throw them in my pocket, and I'm good to go; they're portable, do NOT harbor clumps of grit, don't need a stupid bag, and won't make your fingers sticky with carrot juice. And organic carrots are less likely to have a gamey taste to them. Just stop being pussies and eat the damn vegetables, people!

Also one time I had run out of other produce and just had a giant bag of carrots bigger than my head. By the time I finished it my poo had turned orange.

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Betsy

I am now living in Spain where they don't have baby carrots and you know what? I learned that ugly carrots taste fine AND they only take a moment to scrub and cut into carrot sticks. Who knew? Hee-hee!

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Guest

Wow, I so agree with you! I love the full size carrots that I peel myself while baby carrots have always just left me kind of cold. After eating a baby carrot recently and not loving it I decided to research them myself and read the exact things you report and felt the exact same way you did-- what a good thing to save knobby carrots! But yeah, also agree that the taste is just not there and the texture is wrong too. At least I'll feel better about eating the babies when they're offered but when I'm shopping I'm sticking with the regular carrots. (I'd be happy to buy the knobby carrots at a discount though!)

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Fahrmerdan

I enjoyed reading the article, and I sympathize. But the addendum identifying imperator variety as a quick grower and sweet variety is purely incorrect. I grow carrots as part of my living, and anyone who does so would tell you that they take longer to grow than the other main varieties, and are more fibrous and less sweet. I don't know which variety they use for baby carrots, but please change this information to maintain the acceptability of an otherwise good and informative article. Thanks!

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TulipGirl

One of the things I love about living in Kenya is the carrots. . . oh so yummy and sweet! You are right, there is a "carroty" taste missing from baby carrots. (Though, honestly, it does take me longer than 15 seconds to prepare -- most of my carrots are pretty dirty when bought. Even if I didn't soak them in vinegar water to kill the buggies first, it takes awhile to wash and scrub.)

Guest's picture
Joann

OK, interesting about the flavor. However, I think your article veers a bit towards preaching... against something that is actually healthy. From your tone I was waiting for a ghastly revelation about chemicals or other negative health impact. Since you have nothing terrifying to say about baby-cut carrots health-wise... don't guilt people for eating vegetables, for Pete's sake! Enjoy the flavor of the original, encourage others to try it, point out the price difference but that whole "only one minute to prep" thing is really aimed at single adults. Trust me, it would take me more than a minute to prep for my three kids, especially when I'm interrupted several times while attempting to clean and chop.

Love me some baby-cut carrots. And an extra minute of peace.

Andrea Karim's picture

Preaching, yes. That was the aim. I'm very religious about root veggies.

Guest's picture
Nicole

I'm totally with you! I've been trying to convert my family back to real carrots! They are so much better! I actually thought baby carrots were shredded and compressed pieces of carrot so I'm glad to hear they are real carrots. Too bad they have zero flavor!