You gotta love baby carrots. Don’t have to wash ’em, don’t have to peel ’em, don’t have to cut ’em. But here’s the big secret about baby carrots: They’re actually pieces of carrots. “Cut into two-inch pieces and peeled, and put in a bag,” explained Jeff Huckaby, the CEO of Grimmway Farms, the biggest carrot grower on Earth. One regular carrot might be cut into two, three, even four baby carrots.
The original idea first took root in 1985, thanks to California farmers Mike Yurosek and his son, Dave. Dave loved growing carrots, but hated throwing away almost half the crop. “Thirty-five to forty-five percent of our carrots were rejected because of cosmetic situations – bent, broken,” he told correspondent David Pogue. “That’s what kind of drove me, as to say, ‘OK, how do we do something with that product and make it sellable?'”
Throwing away tons of your crop was one problem. Another was the time it took to cut and peel carrots for cooking, at least according to Yurosek’s then-wife, Terry. “She told me, ‘Why can’t you do something … so I don’t spend three hours in a kitchen, making it?'”
The Yuroseks repurposed a bean-cutting machine to chop the carrots into two-inch pieces ready for cooking. But focus groups revealed a surprise: Customers weren’t interested in cooking them. “They don’t want it for cooking; they want ’em for snacks,” Yurosek said.
So, a plant was retrofitted to start processing baby carrots. Bunny-Luv was their brand (which Grimmway later bought). And once baby carrots hit store shelves in the early 1990s, carrot consumption in the U.S. more than doubled.
Today, 70% of all the carrots we buy are the baby kind.
So, everybody wins! The farmers sell more carrots, we snack more healthfully, and nothing is wasted.
Pogue asked Yurosek, “Everywhere you go, you see baby carrots. Do you take pride every time you see that?”
“It’s nice to still walk in a store and see ’em there,” he replied. “Tell my wife, ‘That was me! Man, we did that!'”
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Story produced by Gabriel Falcon. Editor: George Pozderec.
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