Ever wondered what the heck makes a baby carrot a baby carrot? Did it come out of the ground that way? Is it a big carrot shaved down to a baby size? Are they as healthy for you as regular carrots? I’ve also heard rumors that baby carrots are soaked in chlorine before being packaged, which I found super disturbing. I personally don’t buy baby carrots, I just wash and cut up regular, organic carrots, but I know a lot of people eat them, especially kids. So I wanted to get the story straight and here is what I found out:
1) Baby carrots do come from a smaller, thinner carrot variety, but are in fact vigorously peeled and cut to achieve their baby carrot size. In the industry they are actually called “baby cut carrots”, where actual baby carrots are just slightly smaller sized carrots that are harvested at a younger age than larger carrots. I personally love smaller sized carrots (whole, not baby cut), they are sweeter than the huge ones!
2) Baby carrots (organic and conventional) ARE soaked in a chlorine bath before packaging! Now, before you freak, it’s not straight up chlorine. It is actually a water/chlorine solution that supposedly contains the same amount of chlorine that is allowed in your tap water. This is to prevent food borne illness and they are rinsed again with fresh water before being packaged. Apparently, most lettuces and pre-cut vegetables go through the same process. Still doesn’t sound very appetizing to me and this is why we have a whole house water filter to filter out things like chlorine.
3) Baby carrots may be less nutritious than regular, organic, full size carrots. Baby carrots apparently contain 30% less beta carotene than a regular carrot. This is because of the variety of carrots used and the fact that they are peeled. Many of the carrot’s nutrients are found in the skin or just below it. However, because a carrot’s flesh and peel are the same color, it indicates that there is a very similar nutritional value inside and out. So no need to worry if you prefer to peel, just remember to still wash it before and/or after peeling to prevent ingesting any possible pathogens.
4) Baby carrots are more expensive than buying regular carrots and washing/cutting yourself.
My take away: After doing this research, I still believe that washing and cutting your own organic carrots is the best way to go. It is cheaper, takes two minutes, and you can rest assured that there will be no possible chlorine residue, no pesticides (because they are organic) and that they contain all of the nutrition they are meant to. Now, that said, I also wouldn’t freak out and not eat baby carrots that were served at a friend’s bbq or not let my kid have one. It ain’t gonna kill you. But, my philosophy remains the same: food is most nutritious in it’s most natural state. So buy organic carrots, scrub them well with a veggie scrubber, cut it you prefer and munch away!
NOTE: If your carrots ever become white-ish, or flimsy in the fridge, soak them in cold or ice water to rehydrate them and they will come back to life. Sometimes I prefer to wash and cut the whole bunch at once, so to prevent dehydration, I’ll store them in a glass tupperware filled with water and it keeps them fresh.