Originally published November 4 2010
There is nothing innocent about these baby carrots
by Anita Khalek
(NaturalNews) A multi-million dollar campaign, launched last month by carrot farmers, is aimed at reinventing the image of baby carrots. The unassuming vegetable's extreme makeover will include new "junk food" packaging and flashy ads targeting a younger demographic. Unfortunately, these so-called carrots are covered in chemicals. A chlorine wash will ensure longer shelf life for the snack packages destined to vending machines.
Carrots, in one form or another, date back approximately 10,000 years, where it is believed that seeds were harvested for medicinal purposes. Our modern day carrot originated in the Iranian Plateau, in what are now Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. This prehistoric root has gone through a few natural makeovers moving from a bitter and tough root to our modern day tender and juicy carrot, yielding a multitude of colors and sizes. Today, carrots rank among the most loved vegetables worldwide.
Baby carrots are a specialty harvest that is a small, slender carrot. As the name indicates, they are immature carrots that are densely planted and intended for early harvesting. These babies are sometimes preferred in the culinary industry because they tend to be coreless, juicier, and sweeter than the mature carrot. They also make for a better presentation. In 1986 and in a marketing stroke of genius, a California farmer named Mike Yurosek invented what is now most widely known as the baby carrot. Tired of throwing away deformed, rotted or imperfect mature carrots, he decided to cut out the bad parts and reshape the roots to the well-known little cylinders. These baby-cut carrots gained popularity quickly and today have become a profitable portion of the carrot industry.
Taking a closer look at the process, the mature carrots are cut in half using a green bean cutter; then, a potato peeler peels and shapes the pieces into the little carrots so widely used today. We proudly and happily serve them to our kids as a good source of nutrients and snack on them in the office as a healthy food choice. But do you really know what you are eating?
Baby-cut carrots are in fact washed and/or dipped in a chlorine solution to eradicate bacteria and plant pathogens. This special dip will also allow the preservation of the so called carrot for longer shelf life. In some cases, a sticky substance may surface on these carrots when the package is opened. The chlorine is used for antimicrobial purposes and is a widely accepted practice for all pre-cut, ready- to-eat, packaged vegetables. This is the same chlorine that is found in pools, the same chlorine used in tap water and the same chlorine found to cause a variety of cancers. Incidentally Mike Yurosek passed away in 2005 after a long battle with cancer.
Recently, fifty carrot farmers pooled resources to launch a $50 million campaign to promote the baby-cut carrots. The marketing campaign is aimed at increasing popularity of the carrots with teens and tweens. Using junk food packaging, vending machine distributions and extreme fast food advertisements, the goal is to give the made-over carrots a sexual, sporty look and appeal making them cool to eat. The new branding tactics will most likely change the way kids look at these vegetables and the hip packaging will be an attractive choice, leaving the health-conscious parent in a catch-22. If you are opting for the packaged carrots, real baby carrots will be marked as such, and mature cut carrots will be marked as baby-cut carrots.
About the authorAnita Khalek resides in North Carolina. As a total wellness advocate, she is a passionate believer in the healing power of Nature and is inspired by local, organic and fresh foods to nurture her family and friends. Anita is currently working on several projects including a cookbook. Visit her blog for fresh, healthy recipes at myFreshLevant.com.
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