How do you choose your carrots? Strange question right? Not these days. A carrot used to be a carrot but not any longer, these delicious orange veggies, have succumbed to the world of food processing too and no longer is a carrot just a carrot!
Well, we have found the best resource when it comes to carrots – wait for it ‘The World Carrot Museum’ is a website based in the UK and it can tell you everything you want to know about carrots, baby or otherwise. www.carrotmuseum.co.uk
So what’s wrong with the baby ones?
You know those snack sized carrots in the plastic bags in the supermarket, well you’ll be surprised to know they’re not all that they seem. You’ll notice some of the bags are described as ‘baby cut carrots’ that’s because they are made from old, misshapen, discarded full-sized carrots and soaked in chlorine to keep them fresh – yep chlorine! Didn’t you wonder why they are of uniform shape and perfectly formed? Ever seen a carrot pulled from the ground in such a perfect shape? Nope that’s right, real carrots grown in the earth are misshapen and they’re all the more beautiful for it.
In the 1980s supermarkets expected carrots to be a particular size, shape and colour. Anything else had to be sold for juice or processing or animal feed or just thrown away. Since then, carrots have been specially bred to make baby carrots: sweeter, uniformly coloured, longer and ‘more appealing’ for shoppers.
What about the chlorine?
Baby carrots are indeed washed in a chlorinated water solution – not the same as the chlorine used to disinfect swimming pools – to kill bacteria and other potential contamination and then rinsed. But so are many other pre-packaged vegetables such as salad mixes. Another reason to go organic.
“Organic growers use a citrus based non-toxic solution called citrox, the natural alternative to synthetic biocides for the decontamination of fresh produce, food and beverages,” says the World Carrot Museum.
The lack of peel on these ‘baby carrots’ is a huge drawback: much of the nutritional value of a carrot is in the peel. So, once again it’s wise to choose organic, buy from your local growers and small producers and buy those misshapen, imperfect veggies – they’re beautiful and delicious.