Secret of the day. This is what a carrot looks like. Whatever it wants. I suppose it makes sense. Uniformity is not a specialty touted by mama nature. We learned this in grade school from Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley, via clean white paper and safety scissors. Bentley was born in Jericho, Vermont, where I happen to dig in the shovel these days. He took thousands of photographs of freshly fallen snow crystals, no one alike. So in awe were we of this natural miracle, that it became a staple of our childhood. We celebrate the uniqueness of each cut paper on the classroom wall, and reminisce in our freshman dorm rooms by cutting up returned term papers to hang on the window just before we leave for winter break.
So why not our food? Before my first experience on an Albuquerque, New Mexico farm in 2008, I thought a carrot was cut and dry. Straight and narrow. I may have never even seen one dirty before. I didn’t know what the farmer or home gardener know. Carrots come in all shapes and sizes.
So noted, but what is the point? Why didn’t I know that? The millions of bags of carrots that find their way into Giant, Genuardi’s, Super Stop and Shop, Shaw’s, Piggly Wiggly, Albertson’s, Price Chopper and even places like Whole Foods or your local food co-op are what we call first quality. They are sorted so that only the most carroty carrots are available for purchase. Even if we farmers let a funny one slip by, the produce department at any one of these stores will catch the blunder and keep that rogue out of the public eye.
What happens to the rest of those perfectly edible players? At some of the farms where I’ve worked they go to CSA members, or are sorted as seconds to be sold to restaurants or school cafeterias. I imagine larger farms cut some of them into what we know as baby carrots. Maybe some of them are sold to make baby food. On the relatively small 15 acre farm where I work now, we actively try to get as much as possible of what’s in the ground into hungry mouths, including weekly donations to the state food bank. Still, there are hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of edible carrots that end up as compost.
According to a 2010 economic research report, 14.5 percent of U.S. households were food insecure. That’s about 1 in 7. There are hungry people, and there is wasted food. How about we set these two up? Maybe dinner and a movie? Something uplifting, I think, a real family favorite. Maybe something like It’s a Wonderful Life or White Christmas.
Hey. What’d one snowman say to the other snowman?