Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Carrots, Chlorine, & Kids, Oh My!

The internet is great for sharing information. Unfortunately, it's equally great at sharing misinformation. And as we all know, a little information can be a dangerous thing.

Once again, the email about baby carrots is circulating. This says that it's from a farmer and gives some fancy labels explaining that baby carrots are "dipped in a solution of water and chlorine to preserve them (this is the same chlorine used in pools)." Some of the emails claim the carrots are not real and call them "practically plastic" and others say they are deformed carrot mutations and that is why they are cut up into baby carrots. Even better it goes on to say "You will notice that once you keep the carrots in your refrigerator for a few days, a white covering will form on the carrots. This is the chlorine which resurfaces. At what cost do we put our health at risk to have esthetically pleasing vegetables?" After reading that, how can we feed this to our precious kids?

I checked on snopes and there are some valid points and some clear non-truths. That is in addition to the spelling error for aesthetically. I also took this a step further contacted Bunny-Luv the maker of the organic baby carrots directly and learned:
  1. The white residue is evidence of dehydration not chlorine.

  2. Chlorine is not a preservative and cannot be used as a preservative, it has not preservative qualities.

  3. Grimmway/Bunny-Luv uses the same amount of chlorine found in your regular drinking/tap water NOT the levels from a pool. So if you wash your food under your tap water, you are doing the same thing.

  4. Baby carrots are NOT plastic or practically plastic or deformed carrots, they are big carrots cut to size.

  5. Baby Carrots are not cut from mutant carrots, they are just created from regular larger carrots or the tops after processing carrots for other things like frozen or shredded carrots.

This was the response from Grimmway/Bunny-Luv:

"We do use chlorinated water in the processing of our carrots; HOWEVER, the amount of chlorine used is only 4ppm (parts per million) which is the same standard for household tap water. If you wash your vegetable under running water from your faucet, you are getting the same amount of chlorine we use.

Chlorine is not a preservative as it has no preservative qualities. It is used to kill any bacteria that may be present on the surface of the carrot. The dry white that can appear on carrots is not chlorine residue; it is simply evidence of dehydration. Cut and peel any carrot and allow it to sit for awhile and it will turn white. I hope this answers your question."

So baby carrots, at least organic ones, are safe to eat and are a good food to feed our children.

HOWEVER, it is true that Chlorine is a carcinogen. Chlorine is probably the most widely used toxic chemical. It is used in clothing, paper products, laundry bleach, cleaners and scouring pads. We use it to clean, we add it to our pools, we add it to our laundry to get our whitest whites.

Chlorine is readily absorbed through the skin and is toxic when inhaled. Chlorine Bleach, Phosphoric Acid, Sodium Hypochlorite, and Sodium Hydroxide can irritate lungs, burn eyes, skin and internal organs (if swallowed). Chlorine can react with other chemicals, like ammonia, to damage lungs. In fact, it was used full strength as a weapon to destroy the lungs of soldiers in WWI.

Once Chlorine gets into our environment, it forms cancer-causing compounds. It is a "hazardous pollutant" according to the Clean Air Act and is on EPA's Right To Know List. It is the chemical most involved (tops the list for children) in poisonings, injuries and even death. Studies show a link between dioxins and cancer as well as reproductive problems, endocrine disruption, and a weakened immune system.

We should make the effort to eliminate it from our laundry, cleaning, and washing. We should also take steps to eliminate it from our showers (which are a toxic mix of chlorine heated next to vinyl shower curtains – a horrible combination - that's another post!)

We buy baby carrots because they are convenient. We can add them to soups and stews. They are an easy kid-friendly snack. They are great for dips and the crudites platter. They save us time from peeling and washing and therefore allow us to add a vegetable to our day easily, even on the go.

Baby carrots are a REAL FOOD made more convenient and much better than opening a bag of chips or pretzels. Please don't stop eating carrots. But do take steps to take chlorine out of your life where possible.

This is part of

11 comments:

  1. Wow - wonderful post. Great research. Thank you!

    And thanks for adding this to Real Food Wednesday!

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  2. Plastic, huh? Now, that's a new one.

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  3. I happen to have a toxic baby organic carrot story - it was the first time I tasted the dryer sheet chemicals in food bought from a supermarket. The chemicals in dryer sheets, laundry products, "air-fresheners", scented candles, etc. are volatile and travel just like smoke does (spend 5 minutes in a smoky room and see how you smell). I no longer buy any food from a store that sells fragranced products, as I can taste them, and those chemicals were not designed to be eaten, for good reason.

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  4. This was a WONDERFUL POST...Being a Cancer survivor I myself know the effects of all these polutants. I found a GREAT way to protect myself from all of the chemicals using the products of NIKKEN. The have specially designed filters for the sinks as well as your shower heads. I URGE all of you to check it out~~~Ironically I just posted my testimony on my blog.
    Check it out at http://scrapjunky.blogspot.com/
    If you decide to get any NIKKEN products justlet me know as I recently became a consultant. I stand FIRMLY by the product!!!!
    Be blessed!

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  5. nice post Annie. I think I may skip the baby carrots and stick with my mnster 5 lb bag- cutting and chopping takes on a whole new meaning today...

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  6. Very informative! Thanks.
    What I don't understand is why the organic carrots have more liquid (water) in the bags than regular carrots? Many times I buy them and find that the outer layer of the carrot is actually kind of slimy. This is usually with the snack size or the small bag. ??!!!

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  7. I got this in an email a while ago and deleted it without any qualms... It sounded alarmist and exaggerated. Thanks for addressing it though!

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  8. Edrian, I think the moisture comes from storage, they can be found dry or wetter but it has to do with the temperature in storage to keep them fresh and the moisture levels.

    Linda, that is so interesting! Since we get our produce from the buying club we don't venture into stores that much but when we do, it is a very surreal experience of non-foods with pretty labels and you are right, the smells are strong and bothersome to us too. Our family can't even go into malls or stores much anymore - the off-gassing from shoes and toys, and don't even get me started on perfumes and fragrance, you are right! I just cannot imagine working in those plants - and still we wonder why cancers and disease are on the rise!? sad

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  9. Esthetic is an alternate spelling for aesthetic, so they are both correct.

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  10. What do you know! - that was something I hadn't researched. I had never seen it before. Thank you so much for letting me know, Maggie C!

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  11. Bolthouse Farms, the largest producer of baby carrots has developed a web page called truthaboutbabycarrots.com. It factually clears up the inaccuracies about chlorine and carrots.

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thanks for your comments! If you submitted a question or position on one of the points, I'll do my best to research that and respond promptly. Thank you for your part in creating a healthier world for us all.