Editor’s Note

12 / www.FarmProgress.com March 2013
Michigan Farmer
Michigan Editorial
Stop blackballing baby carrots
I SEE it more and more these
days, people seem to enjoy
hitching a ride on the wave of
negativity. When something
sounds afoul or even the least
bit suspicious, whether it be
true or not, people are more than willing to
join in the parade of crusaders to spread
the news of some kind of wrong.
The latest Facebook fallacy I recently
came across was a smear tactic to undermine one of my ranch-dipping partners
— baby carrots. How dare they bash betacarotene goodness. It’s one thing to curse
fat-laden, sweetened, shaped, puffed,
greased and processed junk food, but to
loathe baby carrots is reprehensible.
The Facebook post, which I understand
started circulating a few years ago but just
now made it to my attention, explains
how baby carrots are made from larger
crooked or deformed carrots. It goes on to
say, “Once the carrots are cut and shaped
Editor’s Note
into cocktail carrots, they are dipped in a
solution of water and chlorine in order to
preserve them (this is the same chlorine
used in your pool) since they do not have
their skin or natural protective covering,
they give them 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.”
It further urges people who care about
their family and friends to pass this knowledge on because, “Chlorine is a very wellknown carcinogen.”
It was a bit disturbing for me to see two
of my friends, whom I consider to be intelligent, quickly comment about how awful
and shocking this information was and
how they were going to stop purchasing
baby carrots. Really? Maybe what made it
believable was the Facebook post said the
Odds and ends
Merry Farmer?
Ed Knauf of Osceola County came
across this little badge of sorts
accompanied with a pin — The Merry
Circle — The Michigan Farmer. He
obtained it from his aunt Edna Knauf,
who he believes has had it since the
early 1920s. It says, by being a member
you are, “expected to do the best
possible in spreading happiness, and
endeavoring to maintain good health,
and to gain knowledge in order to become a useful citizen of this country.” And
it adds, “Purity and loyalty to all good things should be the watchwords of all
members.” Does anyone have any additional history to share on this gem? It may
have some connection to Michigan Farmer magazine, but that’s not certain.
Tell us why you love farming
Also, how come Michigan farmers are not better represented in the entries for
the “Why I Love Farming” competition? I scrolled through the 60-some entries and
found only one from Michigan. I know Michigan farmers have lots of good reasons
for why they love farming — just write them down in 300 words or less. The best
way to enter is to visit www.FarmProgress.com and scroll to the bottom of the
website where you will see an ad along the bottom, click on that, register and turn
in your essay. Please share a photo of family or farm life, too!
If you do not have Internet, give me a shout at 989-224-1235 and leave your
address, I will mail you a registration. I would really love a Michigan farmer to
win this national competition. And, if you win, not only do you get bragging rights,
you could win a free Arctic Cat Prowler XTX! How awesome is that!
Call your Salford dealer today, or visit
information came from a farmer.
Truth is, yes, baby carrots were the
brainchild of a California grower who was
tired of losing half his carrot crop because
they were not cosmetically marketable. He
peeled them down and used a green bean
slicer to produce the first crop of what
later would be a mainstay of the vegetable
tray. One problem was once the carrot had
been whittled down, the core was left and
it wasn’t as appetizing.
Most baby carrots now are being grown
for that purpose, and through genetics,
they have been bred to have a much smaller
and brighter orange core. Baby carrots in
the supermarket these days are either immature carrots bred to be small and harvested young, or they are baby-cut carrots
bred to be long and thin, which are then cut
into smaller pieces at the processor.
The white stuff
OK, on to the real troubling nature of this
attack. What is this white stuff? Does it
really contain a carcinogen that may cause
cancer? I have witnessed more than one
bag of baby carrots turning a little white in
my fridge. I also noticed it was only after
an extended period. Therefore, in my little
I deduced that maybe they were
out. I’ve cured this problem by
them in cold water. But, now I’m
told I am really being poisoned.
With just a little fact-checking, the
of the white film is, in fact,
caused by drying of the damaged
(peeled) tissue as the carrots are exposed to air. They even have a name for
i white blush. If you’re still in doubt,
try peeling a whole carrot and leaving it
in the fridge. It will develop a white film
as well. The good news, it is perfectly fine
to rejuvenate your white-blushed carrots
with a cold bath because it does not affect
the nutritional value or its taste.
Part of the Facebook post is correct
in that carrots are exposed to chlorine,
but not at high concentrations. Like other
ready-to-eat fresh vegetables, baby carrots
are rinsed or sprayed with diluted chlorine
to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination, and then thoroughly washed and
bagged. This process is approved by the
Food and Drug Administration, with strict
rules on the concentration of chlorine and
how long the carrots can be exposed.
In some public water systems, you’d
NOT A CARCINOGEN: The white film,
called white blush, is harmless and
forms on baby carrots after they have
been in the package for an extended
period of time.
find the same level of chlorine in tap
water. Chlorination is a well-known and
well-tested way to disinfect food products
by killing any potential bacteria. And because as a society we have disassociated
ourselves with any responsibility for food
safety — nobody wants to wash anything
— the burden to ensure no one gets sick
falls on food processors and farmers.
Baby carrots have been bred to be
sweeter, more tender and a brighter
orange. They’re a great, easy treat that’s
packed with good stuff like vitamins A and
C, fiber and beta-carotene.
Although I will couch my praises just a
bit, if you really love the taste of carrots,
you won’t find the true carrot taste in baby
carrots. For me, that makes it less desirable to cook with them.
And because most of that wholesome
beta-carotene is found in the skin and outer
portions of the carrot, it’s estimated that
up to 30% is lost in processing. However,
eating carrots, baby or not, is still good for
you and much better than some alternatives.
I quickly commented on the Facebook
post and squashed the notion that baby
carrots are laden with chlorine and apt to
cause cancer. I set the record straight and
my friend deleted the accusation — at least
one stream of nonsense shut down. Bugs
Bunny would be proud, and I certainly
have no intention of depriving my celery
and cauliflower of the carrot’s company on
my vegetable tray.
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