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Combating the problem of food waste is a hot-button issue these days, but it's certainly not a new concept. In fact, it's what led to the creation of a popular lunch box and party platter staple that you've probably eaten many times without a second thought.
In the mid-1980s, California farmer Mike Yurosek was faced with a problem. He was having to throw away over a third of his carrot crop because supermarkets wouldn't buy root vegetables that were broken, misshapen, or just "ugly." Not only was this causing him financial hardship, but it was also wasting tons of carrots. One day, armed with a potato peeler from his kitchen, Yurosek began whittling down a large, misshapen carrot until he had created a small, smooth, perfectly shaped version. Yurosek eventually bought an industrial green bean cutter to portion them into two-inch segments. And thus, in 1986, what we know and love as the tasty, vitamin-packed, bite-sized baby-cut carrot was born.
Following Yurosek's innovation, carrot consumption in the United State increased by 30%. Today, baby-cut carrots are among the most popular produce items in U.S. grocery stores. Major growers and processors now aim to get four baby carrots out of every full-sized carrot, significantly decreasing the waste associated with carrot farming.
The carrot revolution:
- The veggies we think of as baby carrots are actually "baby-cut carrots" – true baby carrots are simply small regular carrots harvested before they reach maturity.
- Around three-quarters of U.S. baby-cut carrots come from Bakersfield, California.
- Growers have improved upon Yurosek's original baby-cut carrots by developing varieties that are smaller, sweeter, and coreless.