TASTE

In Case You Didn't Already Know, Baby Carrots Are A Big Fat Lie

Here's what they're really made of.

04/13/2016 10:06 am ET | Updated Dec 07, 2016

As part of HuffPost’s “Reclaim” project, HuffPost Taste will focus on simple ways you can reduce food waste in your own home.

Don't believe your baby carrots.

They are a big fat lie sold to us in convenient plastic packaging, parading around grocery stores as if farmers can grow perfectly-rounded miniature carrots in mass amounts.

We're here to open your eyes. Most baby carrots -- those smooth, irresistible tricksters -- are actually, 100 percent made of:

-massmedia- via Getty Images
Feast your eyes on the truth.

That's right: Normal carrots.

Despite their adorable name, baby carrots are actually whole, imperfect, craggy-looking carrots that are sliced into smaller pieces, sculpted into rounded sticks, washed and packaged for our snacking convenience. (Watch how they're made here.)

In fact, baby carrots were originally one farmer's ploy to sell more carrots. The late Mike Yurosek, a California carrot farmer, invented baby carrots in 1986 because most full-grown carrots were too ugly to sell.

Back in the '80s, supermarkets would only purchase the prettiest looking carrots, forcing farmers to turn the imperfect ones into carrot juice or animal feed. Due to the lack of demand, most of them were simply thrown away, according to the Carrot Museum. 

In an attempt to find a second life for the ugly ones, Yurosek threw a few batches into an industrial green bean cutter that sliced them into uniform 2-inch pieces, then he ran them through a potato peeler to smooth them out.

He sent the polished sticks to grocery stores in California -- and they were an instant hit.

Zoonar RF via Getty Images

Today, the sliced and shaven minis are credited with saving the wasteful carrot industry. Pre-packaged baby carrots make up nearly 70 percent of all carrot sales, according to the Washington Post, while carrots in general are the seventh-most consumed fresh vegetable in the U.S

Most of today's baby carrots are sliced versions of the Imperator variety, a type of carrot that farmers plant closely together, forcing them to grow long and thin, thus making them easier to shape into baby carrots, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

To help prevent the spread of food-borne illnesses, baby carrots are usually washed in an FDA- and EPA-regulated chlorinated solution that kills certain bacteria. The use of chlorine washes is common in the produce industry and leaves no harmful or detectable residue behind, according to the Water Quality and Health Council.

The leftover carrot scraps are usually used to compost soil, be turned into animal feed, or become juice.

Even though the carrot industry successfully tricked us into eating their baby carrot lie, we *guess* we can forgive them -- especially since the little orange nuggets are so perfect for snacking. 

And if all this carrot talk has you craving those healthy poppers, try one of the deliciously easy carrot recipes below. Just remember to keep it in moderation -- too many carrots can actually turn your skin orange.

Take Action Now
Join thousands of Americans calling on Walmart to help reduce food waste by mounting a comprehensive campaign to sell "ugly" fruit and vegetables.
Sign the petition at Change.org

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