My snack this week at work has been baby cut carrots with spicy hummus. I recently learned from a co-worker the origin of baby cut carrots:
Once upon a time (like back in the 80s) people could only buy “adult” carrots. They would take them home and cut them, dice them, slice them, etc, in order to put them in their stir-fries, on crudite platters, or in a carrot and pea combo side dish to go with their meatloaf.
But some of the carrots were too ugly to sell. So a guy named Mike Yurosek, came up with a system, (using a green been cutter and potato peeler) to pare the big, ugly carrots into small, cute carrots.
Armed with this new knowledge, as I sit on a bench eating my with my baby carrots and spicy hummus, I find myself wondering if the carrot I’m eating is an ex-ugly carrot. Was it shunned by the other carrots before it became lithe and cute?
I guess it tells my age, that I remember when the grown ups around me were a little bit coy about such things. There was a small amount of secretiveness about dying one’s hair to touch up the gray. People asked, “do you think she’s a natural blonde?” or “do you think those are real?”
It shouldn’t matter of course, I hate to think that I would have the judged the carrot on it’s looks to begin with. It probably says something about me that I waste a gossipy minute wondering if my baby carrots smoothness is its own, or the result of carrot-botox.
Upon return to my desk (but still during my lunch hour, of course) further research reveals that the popularity of baby carrots has exploded to such an extent that majority of baby-cut carrots we eat today were never ugly to begin with, they were just regular carrots.
But that, too, is a little sad, if you allow yourself to think too much about it (which I obviously have). The existence of these clean, cute and convenient carrots that parody actual baby carrots–i.e. carrots which are actually small because of their extreme youth– means that normal carrots no longer seem quite good enough, they feel obligated to mill themselves down to a size and uniformity that frees us from having from having to question our choices or test the limits of our tolerance for disparity.