Did you know that there are 3 grades of carrots in Canada? Which one would you prefer?
- Canada No 1
- Canada No 1 – Cut Crowns
- Canada No 2
If you picked either of the first two options, I hope to change your mind!
Grading only applies if the tops are removed. The difference between a Canada No 1 and a Canada No 1 – Cut Crown is that the second type has had part of the top (the crown or shoulder) removed. This is what is typically offered at our grocery store.
Canada No 2 Carrots
Many people think of Canada No 2 carrots as defects. I prefer to think of them as unique. Here’s a few sample ‘defects’ that would result in a carrot being considered a No 2 (this is from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website and guidelines):
- may be slightly forked, that is the forking is not longer than 1 inch (25.4 mm). Broken off forks would make the carrot a cull;
- the carrot is curved, but not so badly so that there is a constriction which would cause a loss of more than 10% by weight;
- that the specimen is not so badly corkscrew shaped, lumpy or ridged that the appearance is seriously affected.
- This grade may have crown damage to the extent that the appearance or saleability is not seriously affected. This will be judged by permitting to a greater degree the amount allowed in Canada No. 1.
- Score only if the carrot has several cracks which in the aggregate would be longer than 3/4 the length of the specimen, or if the crack is more than half the length, or so deep and wide that the appearance or saleability is affected.
- Score any injury which wastes more than 10% of the carrot.
There’s a full list of the scoring criteria at the CFIA website.
Note that Canada No 2 carrots are still carrots. They taste like carrots, cook like carrots, behave like carrots. And, when they are chopped, they often look identical to No. 1 carrots.
It is estimated that 10 to 15 tonnes of ‘ugly’ vegetables are destroyed in Austria every week. It is estimated that 15 million tonnes of food is thrown out in the UK every year and that one of the root causes is the insistence of grocery stores to sell ‘perfect’ looking fruit and vegetables (s0urce).
It is also estimated that Canadians waste $27-billion of food per year and 30% of food in North America doesn’t make it to grocery store because of how it looks (source). Our large grocery system creates a system that offers us ‘perfect’ options – often at the direct result of loss to the farmers and a tremendous amount of waste. There is enough food to feed every single person on the planet but the perception that we insist on ‘perfect’ vegetables is driving the cost of our food up, hurting sustainability, decreasing farmers profits and create vase amounts of waste.
Beyond their defects, Canada No 2 Carrots are:
- Sustainable (they reduce waste)
- Highly supportive of the farmer (produces revenue for labor otherwise lost)
- Cheaper (they are often sold at a reduced cost)
- More interesting (they come in all sorts of wonderful and fabulous shapes and sizes)
But you generally can’t find them at the grocery store. We buy them from farmers markets; they are often the first things to be sold (there is a market) and not always available. But when they are, I jump on them!
Are you a fan of ugly carrots? Will you try them next time? What other ugly fruit and vegetables do you like?