Nutrition: The Real Deal With Baby Carrots, by Julie Daniluk

Baby carrots are so cute and easy to eat at picnics and cocktail parties, but little did we know that they are wasteful for the environment and not as healthy as the large variety.

The following is information from a farmer who grows and packages carrots for IGA, METRO, LOBLAWS, etc.:

“The small cocktail (baby) carrots you buy in small plastic bags are made using the larger crooked or deformed carrots which are put through a machine which cuts and shapes them into cocktail carrots.

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 in your pool). Since they do not have their skin or natural protective covering, they get 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? We do hope that this information can be passed on to as many people as possible in the hopes of informing them where these carrots come from and how they are processed. Chlorine is a very well known carcinogen.”

My mother in-law asked me,

โ€œI buy the organic ones….are they better you suppose???โ€

As an organic retailer (ironically, my store is calledย The Big Carrot), I have had to deal with this question a lot in the last few months.

I have finally got a hold of the folks in charge of processing Cal-Organic carrots and asked the question, โ€œDo the organic baby carrots get a chlorine bath the way conventional ones do?โ€

I was shocked by their answer:

“The chlorine bath is the only thing that keeps these carrots from going moldy in days after processing.”

I must also let you know that the skin is removed by high-pressure washing. Ten times the water is wasted in the production of these carrots compared with the traditional method of a quick wash to send the big carrots off to market.

If you plan on eating any baby carrots, please wash them well in warm water to reduce the chlorine and eat them quickly as they do harbour mold due to lack of skin and airtight plastic packaging.

In the words of my Mother in-law, โ€œNever did like that white stuff –I think I’ll just keep on passing by those wee carrots!โ€

The long and the short of it is, there really are no short cuts. Convenience always reduces quality. Try to keep food as natural and unprocessed as possible!

Julie Daniluk, RHN, hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that highlights the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition by using unique groups such as bikers, dragon boat racers and ballroom dancers to challenge their taste buds with nutritious foods. Julie is excited that her show was chosen to be part of OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network). Similar to Oprahโ€™s book club, programs on OWN explore stories of strength and transformation. Television viewers also recognize Julie from her โ€œbustedโ€ segments on The Right Fit (W Network) and The Marilyn Dennis Show (CTV) where she examines the foods people need to stay healthy, acting as a nutrition encyclopedia. Her fun and engaging style comes in handy when she creates a recipe a week that is packed with health tips for www.chatelaine.com. Her new bookย Meals That Heal Inflammationย is available in stores now.