Baby Carrots - Did You Know?
Found this last week...thought you all might be interested in reading about it.
The truth behind baby carrots
By Sky McCarthy
Published January 07, 2014
Baby carrots have become a lunch box staple. Parents
love them for their convenience and because they’re seen as a healthy food choice. Kids love them because they’re sweet and fun to eat.
But what’s the real
deal behind baby carrots?
After all, they’re not like regular carrots. They’re perfectly shaped with rounded edges; they don’t have the same thick core; and,
even peeled, they’re bright orange. And a quick Google search of baby carrots turns up some frightening information on how they’re made and whether they’re really “soaked in chlorine.” What’s up with that?
We decided to dig up the truth on baby carrots, and here’s what we found.
Most baby carrots sold
in U.S. supermarkets are really what the industry calls “baby cuts” – made from longer carrots that have been peeled and cut into a smaller size. These carrots have been specifically bred to be smaller in diameter, coreless and sweeter than
Bob Borda, a spokesman for Grimmway Farms, the world’s largest carrot grower (it ships 10 million pounds every day), says that over the years the company
has developed a hybrid that combines the best qualities from over 250 known commercial varieties.
“Naturally, you breed carrots to get the sweetest flavor and crunch,”
he told FoxNews.com.
But baby carrots didn’t start out that way. Prior to the mid-1980s, broken and misshaped carrots were discarded, leaving some farmers with as little
as 30 percent of their crop to take to stores. Tired of throwing away perfectly good food, California carrot farmer Mike Yurosek took the carrots and used a potato peeler to reshape them into small pieces more suitable for quick munching. Yurosek purchased
an industrial green bean cutter to quickly whittle the carrots into the familiar 2-inch portions we still see today — and their popularity took off.
Baby carrot products
have been the fastest growing segment of the carrot industry since the early 1990s and are among the most popular produce items in the supermarket aisle – more than potatoes and celery, according to a 2007 USDA report.
While Yurosek’s baby cut carrots have evolved, there has remained a persistent concern from some consumers over how they’re grown and processed.
In order to create thinner vegetables, baby carrots are planted closer together than traditional carrots. In as little as 120 days from planting, the carrots are dug up and trucked to the processing house to be cut and peeled.
But before packaging, all carrots receive a brisk scrub accompanied by a chlorine bath.
Wait, what? Chlorine, you say, as in the same chemical you put in your pools?
Borda says Grimmway Farms, whose labels include Cal-Organic, uses a chlorine solution on all its carrots – organic and non-organic -- to prevent food poisoning, before a final
wash in water. Grimmway says the chlorine rinse is well within limits set by the EPA and is comparable to levels found in tap water.
Ashley Bade, nutritionist and founder
of Honest Mom Nutrition, says the chlorine bath is a standard practice in many pre-cut food items. “The chlorine-water solution is a needed step in the process to limit the risk of food-borne illnesses such as E.coli,” she says.
Yet the controversy over chemical rinsing has caused a minor uproar among organic communities and concerned parents wanting to rid their children’s lunchboxes of potentially dangerous chemicals.
In fact, when FoxNews.com contacted Bolthouse Farms, the nation’s second largest carrot producer, spokeswoman Kathleen Corless said the company didn’t want to be interviewed for this story. “We don’t
want to keep perpetuating the myth that baby carrots are dyed or bleached,” she said.
“I have had clients bring up concerns regarding baby carrots after some rumors
about the processing of baby carrots involving ‘soaking them in chlorine or bleach,’” Bade said, adding that the carrots are safe to eat.
The truth is that
baby carrots are no different from packaged lettuce or any other prepared produce -- like bagged lettuce—you find in the grocery store.
Nutritionists say consumers concerned
about the chlorine can just buy whole, unprocessed carrots and wash, peel and cut them themselves.
But Dr. Aruna Weerasooriya, researcher and professor of agricultural sciences
at Prairie View A&M University, says a perhaps larger, less known health concern is how the manipulation of certain vegetables degrades their nutritional value.
you look at wild carrots, they have high levels of Thymol, a phyto-chemical that is essential for the body to control bacteria and ward off viral infections,” he said. “Now, when you look at some of these new carrot breeds, this type of phytochemical
just isn’t there.”
Weerasooriya believes that carrot companies are trading in nutritional value for increased convenience to the customer – and profit for
themselves. “Research should focus on how to retain some of these nutrients, but instead companies are probably more concerned about a longer shelf life.”
A wonderful leafy green, not overly bitter, not hard to prep or cook and no, it's not just colorful spinach!
Swiss Chard hails from Sicily. It is a nutrient dense green that's a standout among cool-weather crops. It's low in calories
and contains iron, potassium and vitamins A, C & K to support bone, heart and immune health. Both the leaves and stem are edible and like spinach, chard can be used in a variety of disches from Italian casseroles to rice and beef-stuffed leaves to
soup and in pasta.
TO PREPARE: Wash leaves in a sinal or large bowl of water to remove soild and grit. Drain and pat dry. Fold each lef in half lengthwise and cut out hard vein and stalk. Stack a few trimmed leaves together and roll
up tightly into a wrap. Cut horizontally across the wrap to form ribbons.