Baby Carrots; An Urban Legend

Recently I received an email forward concerning one of life’s greatest joys- baby carrots. It was mildly concerning and cause for research.

If you know anything at all, you know that baby carrots, or cocktail carrots, are made by using a machine to cut and shape the wee ones from the large, probably misshapen carrots. Also, you know that they are delicious, nutritious, and good for night vision- what more would you want in a snack. Also, you should steam them, and season them with garlic and thyme or brown sugar…if you know what’s good for you.

Check out how they make those little guys:

This was not the concerning part of the email. This is:

“..once the carrots are cut and shaped into cocktail carrots they are dipped in a solution of water and chlorine in order to preserve them (this is the same chlorine used your pool) since they do not have their skin or natural protective covering, they give the m a higher dose of chlorine. You will notice that once you keep these carrots in your refrigerator for a few days, a white covering will form on the carrots, this is the chlorine which resurfaces. At what cost do we put our health at risk to have esthetically pleasing vegetables which are practically plastic?”

You don’t really buy this do you? I hope not. Because it is not true. Most fruits and vegetables are washed with a chemical compound after harvest, even organic produce; Fresh Express developed an acidic combination to wash their fruits and vegetables. There is a reason for this. The amount of chlorine or acid that is in the water mixture is so minimal, it is much less risky than eating produce that may be contaminated with bacteria found in nature that may cause food-borne illness. The primary way to avoid this is to grow your own produce, which is a good idea either way!

The thing that scares people, I think, is the white film that appears on carrots when they lose moisture. However, that has nothing to do with the chlorine. Sometimes called “carrot blush” or “white blush”, it is caused by the loss of moisture drying the surface and causing rough cracks. It can also occur when surface cells are damaged, releasing an enzyme (phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, if you’re into that sort of thing). This makes small molecules called phenols to join together to form lignin, which is essentially the fibers that help hold plants together. This causes the whitening, but has no affect on the safety of the wee carrot babe.

I personally love email forwards. They give me a much needed laugh, this one especially. Don’t let chlorine scare you, after all, it is just an element found in nature that we are using to keep our food safe.

So, to sum things up, babies=great, carrots=great, baby carrots=super great. But overall, baby carrots=safe and healthy.

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