The Imperfect Digest

Educating and connecting our community.

Where Did All the Carrot Tops Go?: Why Some Carrots Have Tops and Some Don't.

Where Did All the Carrot Tops Go?: Why Some Carrots Have Tops and Some Don't.

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Have you ever wondered why some carrots are sold with their bushy, parsley-like greens still attached while some are sold as solitary orange torpedos? We love de-mystifying the world of agriculture for curious folks like you. Here is everything that you always wanted to know about why root vegetables look the way they do in stores and in your Imperfect box.

Why is some produce sold with the tops on?

Items like beets and carrots naturally grow with gorgeous green leaves on top. After harvest, a grower will sometimes leave the leaves for appearances sake. This is because many stores and some grocery shoppers really like carrots and beets have that farmer’s market halo of freshness around them. 

 If they’re so pretty, why would they ever take the tops off?

While keeping the leaves on root vegetables is great for natural appearances, it has major drawbacks from a freshness and durability standpoint. Besides being bulky and taking up storage space, the leaves actively draw moisture from the root, making it stay fresh for less time. The leaves will also wilt and go brown long before the root has gone bad, which is a hassle for produce that has to be shipped for any distance from where it’s harvested. For these reasons, carrot and beet tops are often taken off so they can be shipped easier, be packed more efficiently, and last for longer.

How does Imperfect choose which type to buy?

While we’d love to buy everything in the beautiful state that it was picked in, carrots and beets with the tops on are much more expensive and in much shorter supply on the produce market than the topless versions. Since we’re about delivering a great value and fighting waste, we usually end up sourcing topless beets and carrots since there are more of them on the marketplace to begin with, and because they will stay fresh longer and arrive at your door in top condition. When the full versions are available, however, we’ll often buy them to offer our customers variety and some extra beauty in their next box.

What can I do with my carrot tops and beet greens?

While stores may assume that you’ll just throw them away, If you get a beautiful bunch of Imperfect carrots or beets with the greens still attached, you don’t have to waste them. Save a buck and eat better by making them healthy and delicious addition to your next meal! Carrot greens taste a lot like parsley and make a great addition to pesto or chimichurri sauce. Beet greens are almost the same as chard and work really well in sautés and salads.


 

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