Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Baby Carrots: A Great Way to Get Kids to Snack on Veggies, But Are They Safe?

Popular
Shutterstock

By Anastasia Pantsios

Baby carrots are a great way to get kids to snack on veggies but are they really safe?

You've probably heard the stories about baby carrots, those convenient bags of snack-sized mini-carrots that have all but replaced the big ones that used to be standard. You may have heard that they are whittled down from old, misshapen, discarded full-sized carrots and soaked in chlorine to keep them fresh, that when they get that white film you sometimes see, that's the chlorine coming to the surface. So the next time you're in the store, you notice the bag doesn't actually say "baby carrots," but rather "baby cut carrots," and you hesitate to buy them.

"Baby carrots have become a lunch box staple," it says, revealing that they first appeared in U.S. supermarkets in 1989. "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 are bright orange. A quick Google search of baby carrots turns up some frightening information, and misinformation, on how they are made and whether they are really "'soaked in chlorine.'"So what's the real story? The World Carrot Museum is a website based in the UK, and it can tell you everything you might conceivably want to know about carrots, baby or otherwise.

The supermarket baby carrots are not true baby carrots—varieties such as Adelaide and Caracas that only grow to a smaller size than the typical 7-8 inch carrot or longer varieties harvested early. Here's how they came to be, according to the World Carrot Museum:

"In the 1980s supermarkets expected carrots to be a particular size, shape and color. Anything else had to be sold for juice or processing or animal feed or just thrown away. One farmer wondered what would happen if he peeled the skin off the gnarly carrots, cut them into pieces and sold them in bags. He made up a few test batches to show his buyers. One batch, cut into 1-inch bites and peeled round, he called 'bunny balls.' Another batch, peeled and cut 2 inches long, looked like little baby carrots. Bunny balls never made it. But baby carrots were a hit. They transformed the whole industry."

Since then, carrots have been specially bred to make baby carrots: sweeter, uniformly colored, longer and thinner to make them easily cut to similar size.

So what about the chlorine? And the white film? Bolthouse Farms, the world's biggest producer of cut and baby carrots, has obviously heard these stories many times too, because its got a webpage called "The Truth About Baby Carrots."

It explains that the 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. If that makes you uneasy, 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.

As for the white residue, that's not any sort of chemical. It's just a sign the carrot is drying out and its color should be restored by soaking it in water for a few minutes. Baby carrots are more prone to this drying appearance because the outer skin has been removed and their entire surface exposed. The same thing would happen to the exposed end of a large carrot if you cut it. If you're into science, the World Carrot Museum can give you more information than you ever dreamed you needed on the natural processes that make this happen.

The lack of peel points to the actual drawback of baby carrots: much of the nutritional value of a carrot is in the peel. But even baby carrots provide a good dose of powerful nutrients, such as beta-carotene, which is crucial to eye health, as well as vitamins A, B, C and E, and minerals such as potassium, copper and magnesium. They're low in calories as well. And if sweet, crunchy, bite-sized carrots are what it takes to get your child to eat his vegetables, then toss that bag in your shopping cart.

From Your Site Articles
Related Articles Around the Web

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Bystanders watch the MV Wakashio bulk carrier from which oil is leaking near Blue Bay Marine Park in southeast Mauritius, on August 6, 2020. Photo by Dev Ramkhelawon / L'Express Maurice / AFP / Getty Images

The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, renowned for its coral reefs, is facing an unprecedented ecological catastrophe after a tanker ran aground offshore and began leaking oil.

Read More Show Less
A mural honors the medics fighting COVID-19 in Australia, where cases are once again rising, taken on April 22, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Robert Cianflone / Getty Images

By Gianna-Carina Grün

While the first countries are easing their lockdowns, others are reporting more and more new cases every day. Data for the global picture shows the pandemic is far from over. DW has the latest statistics.

Read More Show Less
Hannah Watters wrote on Twitter that she was suspended for posting a video and photo of crowded hallways at her high school. hannah @ihateiceman

As the debate over how and if to safely reopen schools in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic continues, two student whistleblowers have been caught in the crosshairs.

Read More Show Less
Hurricane Florence on Sept. 12, 2018. ESA / A.Gerst / CC BY-SA 2.0

Hurricane forecasters predict the 2020 hurricane season will be the second-most active in nearly four decades.

Read More Show Less
The Qamutik cargo ship on July 28, 2020 in Canada's Nunavut province, where two ice caps have disappeared completely. Fiona Paton / Flickr

Three years ago, scientists predicted it would happen. Now, new NASA satellite imagery confirms it's true: two ice caps in Canada's Nunavut province have disappeared completely, providing more visual evidence of the rapid warming happening near the poles, as CTV News in Canada reported.

Read More Show Less
The European Commission launched a new Farm to Fork strategy in an effort to reduce the social and environmental impact of the European food system. European Environmental Agency / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Katell Ané

The European Commission launched a new Farm to Fork strategy in an effort to reduce the social and environmental impact of the European food system. It is the newest strategy under the European Green Deal, setting sustainability targets for farmers, consumers, and policymakers.

Read More Show Less

Trending

President Trump signs an executive order regulating social media on May 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Doug Mills-Pool / Getty Images

Facebook and Twitter removed posts by President Donald Trump and his campaign Wednesday for violating their policies against spreading false information about COVID-19.

Read More Show Less