On CBS and Carrots

The Early Show on CBS had a piece on food waste. I’m in it briefly, which was fun to see. The video is now online.

That a network did a segment on avoiding waste is encouraging. It communicates that the issue is gathering steam and awareness is building.

A local camera crew came out to my house to interview me for the segment. In addition to the interview, they shot some “B-roll” of me doing stuff. Typing on my laptop, cutting vegetables and composting. I was a bit disappointed that the composting didn’t make the cut, as we need to get more Americans on board with that practice.

During the filming, I peeled and cut a carrot. When one of the two cameramen asked why I peeled the carrot, I was taken aback. It’s just something I’ve always done (and I suspect most people do).

But, I realized, if we wash carrots, we probably don’t need to peel them, too. Any thoughts? Is this just an ingrained behavior or is there more to it than that?

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  1. Posted November 17, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Carrot skins can be bitter. Small carrots don’t have to be peeled, and you can also scrape them with a small knife, which doesn’t take off as much.

    I’m reminded about the joke about the cook who always cut off the end of roasts.

  2. Posted November 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Why is there no mention of composting? Also, why did they take an obviously wealthy family and not a more average income family? What about donating food to a shelter? How about mentioning buying a chest freezer or mention of menu planning. Something!

    How could they just THROW OUT half a grass fed cow?

    I guess it bothers me that instead of offering the family suggestions as to what they COULD do with the food on their counter, they just told them to toss it all.

    Oh and hi there! I just popped over from No Impact Man.

  3. devlyn
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always eaten my carrots with skin on. I just make sure to wash and then rub them down with a towel, as fine dirt can build up in their wee wrinkles. I very rarely peel carrots at all, really, unless I’m going for a certain “look” with a fancy dinner or something.

  4. Posted November 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I scrub carrots with a vegetable brush, then scrape them. That’s how my mother handled carrots.

  5. Sean
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Certainly you can eat carrots without peeling them. You can also make use of the peels by making vegetable stock. Save the carrot peels in the freezer, along with onion and garlic skins, clean potato peels, the ends of celery and other such things. When you have a decent amount, cover them with water and boil gently for an hour or so, then strain. You’ll have delicious vegetable stock. You still have to compost the food scraps at this point, but if it keeps you from buying vegetable stock/bouillon, then you’re eliminating the need for whatever vegetables the bouillon factory would have used.

  6. Posted November 17, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the carrot advice. I should say that the carrots I peeled were the store-bought, non-local kind. That origin makes me a little more prone to peeling.

    Seems like it’s either scrub or peel (but not both!). I’m going to make more of an effort to get out the brush…

    Hatchet, thanks for stopping by. I agree, there were many, many things that family did that I had problems with, but today was my first time seeing their story. They were just used to illustrate how much we waste and they did just that. And then the second portion was about what we can do better. But it would have been nice to join the two by suggesting how the family use that food.

    I thought that same thing about throwing away all that frozen meat. Just horrible. But at the very least, the family was candid.

    Sean, that’s a good reminder. I’ve enjoyed that kind of “everything but the kitchen sink” stock. Some people say not to include celery, but I’ve done it.

  7. Jenny
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    If I am cooking the carrots into something, such as soup or stew, I leave the peels on. I don’t notice any difference. However, if they will be eaten raw, I like to peel them, because then I do taste the bitter in the peel. Also for glazed or steamed carrots I don’t like the peel either.

  8. Posted November 17, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and Diana–I forgot to mention that the whole thing reminded me of that same tale–the young wife who cuts the ends of her roasts because she saw her mother do it (because her pan was too small).

  9. Bellen
    Posted November 18, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    To scrub carrots I use the scrubby side of two-sided sponge, then dunk in pan of water to remove any residue – I then use the water to water plants.

    To make a really good vegetable broth – roast the peelings, etc for about 30-45 min at 350 degrees – until they start to carmelize. Be careful not to burn. Add a small amount of water to the pan to get all the good browned parts, put all into stock pot and cook for about an hour – dark, rich tasting broth. The remains go into the garden.

    Just a passing note – in the past week the only food waste I’ve had was 4 grapes that were smashed and started to mold at the bottom of the bag. They, of course, went to the garden.

  10. Elizabeth
    Posted November 19, 2010 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I would be careful with this. Carrots soak up whatever is in their environment, including heavy metals and pesticides. (I once read about an attempt to use them to clean soil contaminated by lead.) Thus peeling may be the most prudent measure for many purchases.

  11. Rosa
    Posted November 19, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    If your carrots are taking up lead, peeling them won’t help. Same with if there’s e coli in the water where they were washed/processed – they continue to take up water until you cook them, given the opportunity (which is why if you root cellar carrots not in the actual ground, you have to water them a little).

    Like Diana said, carrts can be bitter, sometimes – I usually taste them & peel the ones that taste bitter, to make them less bitter. I actually find that’s more common with local homegrown/farmer’s market carrots than the commercial ones, I assume we water less uniformly than the monoculture mechanized farms.

  12. Amanda
    Posted November 19, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I never peel my carrots (which are all from a CSA), and I’ve never tasted any bitterness. Try it, you might like it!

  13. Posted November 27, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think I’ve ever actually peeled a carrot except as part of shredding carrots. There’ve been times when I’ve bought peeled carrots, but they’re far and few between.

  14. Pat Ruggiero
    Posted November 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Amanda on this. I haven’t peeled a carrot in 30 years. I grow some, get some from farmers markets, buy organic and conventional in the grocery stores. And never peel a one. Scrub with vegetable brush. Scrape a discolored or dry spot if necessary.

  15. Posted December 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I just scrub my carrots unless they are really hairy

  16. Posted December 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always peeled whole carrots too. The skin seems a little bitter to me…

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