I used to buy little carrots in plastic bags. Sometimes organic, cut to a polite size, peeled. I assumed they were clean, ate them straight from the bag and was happy to live in such a progressive part of the world.

Some nights I would dump the entire bag in a double steamer, top them with olive oil, salt and eat them. All. Call it dinner.

But I could have been eating bagged rutabagas, or bagged potatoes, no offense to either, but the carrots weren't exactly distinguishing. They were orange, crunchy, the bag said carrots and the resemblance to a real carrot ended there.

They didn't have the earthy fragrance of carrots. They didn't have Bugs Bunny greens. And they were missing the veins of dirt in the skin. I didn't want to think about it but they were missing taste.

Maybe I pay more for the carrots at the farmers' market, I'm honestly not sure, but they are carrot-carrots, free range artisan carrots. They are rays of sunshine pulled from the ground, the difference between a Nestle's candy bar and an artisan dark chocolate with gold leaf. They are free of machines, warehouses, brands and trucking lines.

Farmers' market carrots taste like I remember on my Grandmother's back porch, the greens tossed to the cows and the tops placed in a pie tin bath while I crunched and waited for them to sprout leaves.

And these carrots come without a bag. Their only label is their impossible orangeness. And without cows across the fence the farmer is usually happy to keep the greens for their own chickens or compost.

I can still eat a bunch for dinner but they rarely actually make it to the pot.


Chile said...

Our CSA carrots are divine. I never knew they came in colors other than orange either. Have you had the cosmic carrots?

Now that you've eaten all that beta carotene, come see the rules for the archive meme at my place. You've been tagged!

Kate said...

A rural friend recently told me about the latest way of harvesting carrots. You won't believe it but they spray the whole crop with a chemical which defoliates them ie kills all the leaves. Then they dig them up with a machine and they don't have any hairs or leaves left !! That soil then cannot be used for ANYTHING for years! And this is here, in Australia - the clean, green place down-under! Please call in to my blog too. Your's looks great and I promise I will read it from now on !! ps what is "meme" ?

Chile said...

Kate, here is a good explanation of blog memes. They can be fun, but they can also get tedious if overdone. Some people opt out of them if they don't have the time to do it or interest in the meme subject.

Emily said...

impossible orangeness: the most beautiful two words put together. I LOVE it.

Green Bean said...

Beautifully said. I loved this post. I too used to buy the bagged "baby" carrots. Please! Now that I'm a farmer's market only gal, I like Chile, am reveling in all the colors and slightly different flavors - the lunar white and yellowstone are mild, the purple and scarlet are a bit more bitter, the orange perfection. All are divine and miles from what the bagged carrots tasted like.

Kate, reading your description about how big industry harvests carrots actually made my stomach hurt. :(

kale for sale said...

Chile - I've had red, white and yellow carrots but cosmic? I don't know. I'm going to have ask around for them.

Thanks for the tag. I think. I'll check it out tonight.

And welcome!

Kate - That process makes me think of giving the carrots chemo before they are put on the market for dinner. Incredible. And yes, I do think of Australia as soooooo greeeeeeen.

Can't wait to check out your blog too!

Emily - I bet the kids have moments of impossible orangeness too although I know they are impossibly perfect and cute 110% of the time.

green bean - Thank you for the beautiful distinctions. Next time I have the various colors I'm going to pay better attention.