Why You Should Think Twice Before Buying Baby Carrots

Carrots are a delicious and nutritious vegetable, no matter how you serve them. They're a crunchy, satisfying snack food, a colorful addition to crudité and grazing boards, and a tasty side dish when roasted or steamed. You'll find them in the grocery in two basic forms: whole carrots (sometimes with greens attached) and bags of "baby" carrot shapes, conveniently peeled and ready to eat. Although we generally love any hack that makes eating more veggies quick and easy, that baggie of baby carrots has a few disadvantages you should consider before dropping it in your shopping cart.

For one thing, you might not know that those babies are actually cut to size from bigger carrots. Further shaped by a machine that shaves large carrots into regular shapes, these shaved carrots can dry out without the protective peel they grow with. And the large carrots that are converted to baby cuts are less flavorful to begin with, so you're cheating yourself out of a more delicious vegetable experience in both texture and taste when you opt for the babies.

Convenience has its cost

To overcome the drawback of quickly drying out, bags of baby carrots contain moisture, which is simply clean water to help prevent the scraped and shaped carrot pieces from having an unattractive, white frost appearance. However, that water can also cause the carrots to take on a slimy texture while they wait in your crisper drawer — just one more drawback of the little orange carrot bits.

There's no disputing that baby carrots are convenient. When they were introduced to the public in the 1980s, carrot sales surged to their highest level in decades, and their popularity has only increased. According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, baby carrots accounted for more than half of the carrots sold in the U.S. in 2019. Still, we are missing out on the real taste of fresh carrots when we opt for this packaged version and pay more – sometimes double – for the same weight. So consider both your taste buds and budget when you shop for carrots; you might find the flavor and lower cost of whole carrots worthwhile, especially knowing you don't need to break out your peeler to enjoy the crunchy fresh taste.