Why are all carrots the same colour?

Last updated 05:00 06/02/2014

VISIONS OF PERFECTION: The carrots we see on the supermarket shelves are bright, even and unblemished.

Ganesh Raj
SPEAKING UP: Our resident Crimes Against Food writer, Ganesh Raj.

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Our new weekly food series takes an irreverent but informative look at crimes against food.

This week Ganesh Raj wonders why all carrots are the same colour.

Read on to find out why....

Everything about them is weird.

Perfectly sized, perfectly shaped, and the absolute same colour.

All laid out side by side like a North Korean military procession.

It's as if each one has been brainwashed to follow a vegetative version of Mein Kamf that has taken over their entire being.

I am, of course, talking about that clear victim of ethnic cleansing - the supermarket carrot.

It's almost as if someone forced farmers to grow each carrot exactly the same size and colour so they look good on the shelf.

Hang on a minute.... someone did!

In the 1980's supermarkets expected carrots to be a particular size, shape and colour. Anything else was sold for juice or processing or animal feed, or just thrown away.

Farmers had no choice but to provide every carrot with the same career path.

It was the vegetable equivalent of the Indian parent forcing its child to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer, and then sending it off to an arranged marriage with the supermarket.

'You have to be Pantone 172 in colour and 6 inches in height or you'll never amount to anything' says Carrot Patel.

Fields of wasted crops lay testament to the refusal of supermarkets to stock edible but less-than-perfect-looking food.

Huge amounts of perfectly edible, nutritious fresh produce are wasted for not meeting cosmetic standards.

 If it was reality television, it never even made the top 50 - the judges had voted it off the island before it had a chance to show its ugly face.

Research has shown that 90 per cent of the wasted crop is still worthwhile.

Supermarkets have pushed the prices so low for vegetables that sometimes, it's not economically viable for farmers to even harvest the good stuff and entire fields get ploughed in - it's heart breaking.

Much of this waste occurs due to produce not meeting 'technical specifications'. 

These 'specs', as they are referred to within the industry, stipulate the size, shape and skin finish of fresh produce that retailers will purchase, and at what price.

The grading system, set by EU and DEFRA guidelines, is based on aesthetics and bears no correlation to taste or nutritional value. It's an oxymoronic set-up well recognised by growers.

So the next time you walk past the racially profiled carrot in the supermarket, take a moment to recognise that some carrots are more equal than others.

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- © Fairfax NZ News


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