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How Do Farmers Grow “Baby Carrots”?

Farmers grow "baby carrots" by planting carrot varieties suited for this size and harvesting them early. They're then shaped and polished into the snackable form we love. Intriguingly, some "baby carrots" are actually whittled down from larger ones to reduce waste. Want to uncover the full journey from seed to your snack bag? Keep reading to unveil the fascinating process.
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman

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.

California farmer Mike Yurosek created the baby carrot from misshapen carrots that were too “ugly” to be sold.
California farmer Mike Yurosek created the baby carrot from misshapen carrots that were too “ugly” to be sold.

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.

Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman is a teacher and blogger who frequently writes for WiseGEEK about topics related to personal finance, parenting, health, nutrition, and education. Learn more...
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman is a teacher and blogger who frequently writes for WiseGEEK about topics related to personal finance, parenting, health, nutrition, and education. Learn more...

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    • California farmer Mike Yurosek created the baby carrot from misshapen carrots that were too “ugly” to be sold.
      California farmer Mike Yurosek created the baby carrot from misshapen carrots that were too “ugly” to be sold.