Have you ever wondered why prepackaged baby carrots stay fresh for so long?
Since carrots are one of the only vegetables that everyone in my family will ingest sans weeping and gnashing of teeth, we eat a lot of them.
And y’all, I cook homemade, real food meals 2 or 3 times every day. I’m in the kitchen a lot, which is why I’m always looking for ways to streamline my food prep time. Prepackaged baby carrots, sliced carrot “chips”, and carrot matchsticks were on my grocery list pretty much every week.
Until recently, when I finally decided to find out how in the world these magical carrots could last so stinkin’ long in my refrigerator.
Here’s how: they’re soaked in chlorine.
Now, depending on who you ask, this chlorine soak is highly diluted and perfectly safe to consume. As safe as drinking tap water, in fact. And everyone knows tap water (treated with chlorine) is perfectly safe to drink…oh, wait.
Tap Water Concerns
- The EPA and the EWG (Environmental Working Group) are both concerned about concentrations of chemicals found in tap water samples from across the nation. Source
- A study by the National Cancer Institute shows that long-term drinking of chlorinated tap water appears to increase the risk of cancer by as much as 80%. Source
- University of Wisconsin epidemiologist Robert Morris, MD, PhD found that water chlorination is associated with a risk of bladder and rectal cancer. Source
- Dr. JM Price, MD, found a connection between chlorine in drinking water and heart attacks. Source
This Ain’t Normal
Even without all the research, don’t you find it odd how long prepackaged baby carrots, carrot matchsticks, and carrot chips will last in your refrigerator? To borrow the words of Joel Salatin, Folks, This Ain’t Normal.
Real food rots fairly quickly. Processed foods are amazingly long lasting. Granted, prepackaged carrots will eventually rot. But the fact that they look so good for so long is a red flag that they’ve been treated with something. Something I don’t necessarily want to ingest.
A Simple Solution
Luckily, the solution is simple: buy organic, whole carrots!
An even better solution is to grow your own carrots. We started growing carrots a few years ago and have steadily increased our production each year. This year we have big plans for the backyard garden, including a root cellar! I’m so excited to plant lots and lots of carrots to overwinter in our “new” root cellar. Wish me luck!
We are determined to reduce our dependence on grocery stores, and growing enough carrots to sustain our family of five for the year is a step in the right direction.
Note: Eating prepackaged baby carrots is definitely better than eating no carrots at all, or eating junky processed foods. If you’re still pretty new to the real foods movement, you probably want to focus on more important changes like switching to pastured meats & dairy, overhauling your cooking oils (coconut oil is awesome; ditch vegetable and canola oils; use olive oil at room temp only), and learning to make homemade bone broth.
Back to the organic, whole carrots…for now I’m buying them by the five-pound bag. Here’s what happens to a big ol’ bag of carrots at my house…
5 Ways to Use Organic Whole Carrots
I don’t even peel them! Just chop off both ends, then prep in one of the following ways:
1. Shredded for salads
2. Julienned for cooking
3. Waffle cut “chips” for eating raw
Using a mandoline, select the waffle blade and set thickness to the 2nd lowest setting. Hold carrot vertically.* We eat these with hummus with this-n-that lunches or as a snack.
4. Chopped for roasting
5. Whole for broth
I often break one carrot into several pieces with my bare hands and toss them into the crockpot with a batch of homemade bone broth. Here’s my simple crockpot method for making homemade bone broth.
*Technically I should advise use of the included food guard, but I find it cumbersome and wasteful.
**In all transparency, I did slice open my finger with this method, so please be super super cautious. Or invest in these snazzy cut resistant gloves.
Do you eat prepackaged baby carrots? Does the chlorine soak bother you?
Kathleen Henderson is the yankee behind the homestead. Follow along as we grow real food and three boys while renovating a 20-acre farm in northern Virginia. Do you love homegrown food, Paleo-ish recipes, and natural living? You’re in good company! Let’s grow together…