Are Baby Carrots Good For You? Do Baby Carrots Contain Chlorine? The Truth About These Man-Carved Vegetables
As the resident “Foodie” in the building, I was recently asked about those baby carrots you find in the grocery store. You know the ones that I’m talking about: small, roundish-looking carrot chunks that are sold in clear plastic bags – ready-made for instant snacking. My friend wanted to know if they were any better or worse for you than “non-baby carrots”; They also inquired about the viral rumor that the carrots contain massive amounts of chlorine.
First – the disclaimer. I’ve never been a fan of baby carrots. I think that they’re over-priced and lacking in taste; All of the baby carrots that I’ve been subjected to over the years leave me thinking: carrots don’t really look like this – yet alone grow like this.
That leads us to the first fact about these vegetables: They’re not “baby carrots” at all.
The baby carrot was invented in 1986 by leading Newhall California carrot producer Mike Yurosek who sought to save at least some of the broken or misshapen carrots that he could not use in his fresh carrot packing line.
In order to make baby carrots, he used an industrial green bean cutter to cut them in pieces of about 5 cm long. He then put them in an industrial potato peeler to peel them and round them a bit. And so, the baby carrot was born.
Okay – so much for truth in advertising. But what about the chlorine claim?
The carrots must be washed with chlorinated water. This water must have a pH (acidity) between 6.0 and 7.0. The concentration of chlorine in the water should be between 100 and 150 ppm (parts per million). The time of contact between the carrots and the chlorinated water should not exceed 5 minutes. This must be removed from the carrots by rinsing with potable water or using a centrifugal drier.
But, just because the carrots are dipped in a chlorine bleach bath doesn’t necessarily make them bad for us. As a comparison, baby carrots are no more harmful to us that any of the other commercially-prepared convenience foods Americans consume. In order to keep these foods shelf-stable, the manufacturers pump them full of preservatives and sodium. Think of this the next time you eat that hot dog or canned food product.
But let’s bring this full circle. Are the carrots good for you? Here’s my opinion on the subject: While they might not be “harmful” to you – they do contain extra preservatives not found in “normal” carrots. They also don’t taste the best and they’re overpriced. So – why not just buy your own 2 or 5 pound bag of carrots, peel them, cut them up, and put them in the refrigerator so that the’re always ready for your next snack attack?