How are baby carrots made? While obvious to some, many people may not know that baby carrots are not naturally occurring. What you may also find surprising is that these carrots aren’t genetically modified, or even grown/harvested specifically to be small. Showing one farmer’s creative thinking, and society’s desire to have the perfect looking food, the story behind baby carrots is indeed an interesting one.
How Are Baby Carrots Made?
Nearly everyone who eats baby carrots eventually thinks: how are baby carrots made? Baby carrots are actually cuttings of fully grown carrots that have been cut and peeled to make that ever-so-popular baby-cut style. The idea of baby carrots came about when a California farmer named Mike Yurosek was tired of throwing away slightly rotted, deformed, or imperfect carrots that didn’t catch the public’s eye. It seems that if a carrot showed any signs of being knobby, twisted, or broken, it isn’t worth eating. In fact, some farmers like Yurosek would have to throw 400 tons of carrots down the cull shoot each day because they wouldn’t sell.
Culls are carrots that are too twisted, knobby, bent or broken to sell. In some loads, as many as 70% of carrots were tossed. And there are only so many discarded carrots you can feed to a pig or a steer, says Yurosek, now 82 and retired. “After that, their fat turns orange,” he says.
The idea was cultivated in 1986, when Yurosek began selling these baby carrots in stores. Stores paid 10 cents a bag for whole carrots and sold them for 17 cents, while paying 50 cents for a 1-pound package of baby carrots and selling them for $1. By 1989, more markets were on board, and the baby carrots continued to be an economic powerhouse. The idea was a great one – being able to utilize food that would otherwise be wasted and tossed, and all without the questionable method of genetic engineering.
Of course there is always a downside. While baby carrots are convenient, they are more expensive than normal carrots and lack taste and flavor. In addition, the success of baby carrots may be a reflection of the desire for food to be uniform in appearance and taste, and for food that is sterile, prewashed, and prepackaged.