Bagged baby carrots. Why are you eating them? Maybe your mom has told you if you eat your carrots you’ll never have to wear glasses. They are good for your eyes. So today you like the simplicity of a healthy crunchy snack that requires no washing and peeling.
Well, your mom was right. Carrots are healthy and known for their beta-carotene content, which is converted to vitamin A in the human body. Carotenes give orange and yellow vegetables their color. Green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, kale, parsley and spinach are also a great source of beta-carotenes but the orange is masked by the green color of chlorophyll.
Beta-carotene or vitamin A from the food we eat is very important for body functions such as:
- Eyesight – vitamin A is needed for the formation of visual purple, which allows us to see at night
- Tissue healing – vitamin A is needed for the repair of tissue after injury or surgery
- Healthy skin – vitamin A stimulates the growth of the base layer of the skin
- Antioxidation – vitamin A neutralizes free radicals and protects the body against pollutants
- Anti-cancer – vitamin A helps to maintain the structural integrity of the cells
- Immune support – vitamin A optimizes the function of the white blood cells
- Digestion – vitamin A stimulates the secretion of gastric juices needed for protein digestion
But just because you eat a lot of baby carrots it doesn’t mean that you actually make use of the beta-carotene.
Many people, especially infants, children, diabetics and individuals with poor thyroid function, cannot convert beta-carotene to vitamin A. The use of alcohol or cortisone medication reduces the absorption rate of vitamin A. The mineral zinc is needed to release vitamin A from it stores in the body (mainly the liver).
Issue #1 – Baby carrots are eaten raw
According to the cookbook “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon we only absorb about 5% of carotenes when we eat a carrot raw. Chopping, grating and steaming make carotenes up to 30% more available. Additional pureeing can increase the absorption rate to 50%. How often do you steam and puree your baby carrots or your carrots from the garden?
Issue #2 – Baby carrots are mostly eaten alone
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that dietary fat from the food you eat is crucial to the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamin. Fat acts like a carrier and moves vitamin A across the cell wall of the small intestine. If you are on a low-fat diet, chances are high that your body is unable to effectively absorb vitamin A. Dip your carrots into some healthy fats like almond butter or to eat them with some nuts.
Issue #3 – Baby carrots are peeled
It’s also been said that the majority of the beneficial nutrients are in the carrot’s peel or just below under the skin. This is why it is recommended to scrub organic carrots gently with a vegetable brush instead of peeling them. Baby carrots are already conveniently peeled for you. So some of the important nutrients have been taken away.
Read here about the “Dirty Dozen”, which are fruits and vegetables you should always peel if possible, unless they are organic.
Issue #4 – Baby carrots are washed in chlorine water for sanitary reasons
And then there is the rumor that baby carrots are washed and soaked in chlorine water. According to “100 days of real food” baby carrots “… are treated with WATER that contains a small amount of chlorine. And this water/chlorine solution is well within the limits established by the EPA and comparable to the amount acceptable in (public) drinking water.”
A chlorine bath is standard in many pre-cut food items. Chlorine is most commonly used for disinfecting purposes. It is in many household cleaners (bleach). It’s in pool and the tap water you may be drinking and showering in. So yes, it probably doesn’t make a big difference to the washing process you do at home with tap water. But when you are on a quest to reduce exposure to toxins, this might matter to you.
Issue #5 – Baby carrots are wrapped in plastic
Plastic food packaging exposes you to phthalate chemicals, which can damage the walls of arteries. These chemicals have also been accused of messing with hormones. According to the Canadian Cancer Society some of them probably can cause cancer in humans.
Plastic packaging ends up in the trash and eventually in the landfill or they are burned. Both solutions are very poor for the environment and for your health. If there is no healthy soil or clean water how can you expect your baby carrots to be healthy and nutritious? I’m no saint when it comes to the use of plastic bags but I try to avoid them whenever it is easy.
Issue #6 – Baby carrots are processed
Baby carrots have to have a particular size, shape, color and crunchiness. You start with a maybe not so perfect looking but totally healthy carrot. To turn it into a perfect baby carrot, it needs to be peeled, washed, cut into smaller uniform pieces and wrapped in plastic. Didn’t nature think of the best natural packaging and shape? Processing decreases the value of any produce.
Furthermore you’re teaching your kids the wrong thing. Baby carrots are not how carrots appear in nature. Kids are conditioned that vegetables should be packaged into bit size snacks. You wonder why your kids chose purple to color cows? Maybe they think that how cows look in nature. Maybe TV commercials taught them so?
Issue #7 – Baby carrots are marketed
Baby carrots have their own website, their own billboards and their own YouTube video. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw and they are crunchy. Why isn’t there a Kohlrabi YouTube video available? Probably because baby carrots mean big business. The more you eat, the more money the producer will make. Think! What are baby carrots to you? Do you consider them as healthy veggies or more like a fast food snack? Marketing can do so many things.
Issue #8 – Baby carrots are convenient food
What do baby carrots say about your attitude towards food? Is food a part of your life? Do you see food as a crucial component to health and happiness?
Food should not be about speed, about convenience or support laziness. If you think you gain valuable time by microwaving TV dinners or ripping a bag of baby carrots open, then you haven’t discovered the true value of food. Don’t do what the commercial about baby carrots asks you to do. DON’T eat them like fast food.
And again you are teaching your kids that cooking or preparing food is a boring chore and that time spent cooking is a waste of time. Teach your children that unpackaged and perishable food is desirable. Involve them in the shopping and preparation of the family meals or even better grow your own baby carrots like I did. Aren’t they so much cuter (see featured picture 🙂
Sign up for the email notification if you don’t want to miss a thing, posts like:
- Tips to reduce your exposure to phthalates
- Tips to reduce your exposure to chlorine