Kindergarten Carrots - september 2, 2010
Last night I spent ten minutes scrubbing and trimming thirty carrots, as part of a monthly snack contribution to my daughter's kindergarten class. I know nearly all kids love carrots, and I know they especially love those so called "baby" carrots, but I cannot stand those little nubs. I'm not terribly concerned about the health risk of the chlorinated water they are dipped into, but I do get peeved at their false claims, especially since they mislead people into thinking they are not a processed food, which they are. Minimally processed, sure, but it upsets the purist in me. Fakers.
The big secret behind baby carrots was made public back in 2004, by USA Today. Not really baby carrots at all, they were just a clever marketing ploy by a farmer with too many disfigured grown-up carrots to sell, so he ground them down into two inch chunks. Today carrot producers apparently use thinner, specially bred baby-esque carrots, but still those packaged babies aren't really babies at all. They are larger carrots cut and shaved down for convenient toddler munching. My kids and I did actually find real baby carrots not too long ago, sold at our farmer's market by Serendipity Farm. They were tiny and tasty and, best of all, purple. Really a find. I packed them in lunches for three weeks and my kids actually ate them.
I know, most people don't really care, and the alleged babies make serving veggies to kids a whole lot easier, which is a good thing. So, I probably shouldn't lambast the prepackaged "baby" carrot. But that aside, I was interested to see how the fully grown carrots went over with my daughter's class. Carrots are one of her favorite snacks, especially if she pulls them out of the ground herself. To better emulate the fresh picked experience,I would have liked to serve the carrots with their greens on, but carrots get floppy when left with their tops overnight, and going shopping for them the morning of just wasn't convenient. I'm willing to bet there is some trick to keeping them crisp, maybe soaking them in a bucket of water like florists do flowers the night before a wedding, but I haven't tested it out, so their pretty green tops had to go.
To lessen the trauma of fresh vegetables, I delivered the carrots with three bags of organic crunchy corn doodles. I think the teachers prefer popcorn or crackers, but I couldn't resist. They're like Cheetos without the chee. My daughter was elated, and at the end of the day, she told me everyone at her table ate a carrot and that she had eaten three. Success!