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Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
That is a lot of thin mints!
With her troop members watching, a former Girl Scout leader was sentenced to 60 days in jail for stealing nearly $5,000 they had raised through cookie sales and other fundraisers.
"Five thousand dollars is a lot of Thin Mints," Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost said last year after she was charged.
How to answer your little ones when they ask, "Where do baby carrots come from?"
It all began about 16 years ago when Mike Yurosek of Newhall, Calif., got tired of seeing 400 tons of carrots a day drop down the cull shoot at his packing plant in Bakersfield. Culls are carrots that are too twisted, knobby, bent or broken to sell. In some loads, as many as 70% of carrots were tossed. And there are only so many discarded carrots you can feed to a pig or a steer, says Yurosek, now 82 and retired. "After that, their fat turns orange," he says.So was born the baby carrot.
The farmer continued growing carrots — and throwing them out — for decades. But in 1986, Yurosek had the idea that would change American munching habits.
California's Central Valley is dotted with farms, fruit and vegetable processors, and freezing plants. Yurosek knew full well that freezers routinely cut up his long, well-shaped carrots into cubes, coins and mini-carrots. "If they can do that, why can't we, and pack 'em fresh?" he wondered.
First he had to cut the culls into something small enough to make use of their straight parts. "The first batch we did, we did in a potato peeler and cut them by hand," Yurosek says. Then he found a frozen-food company that was going out of business and bought an industrial green-bean cutter, which just happened to cut things into 2-inch pieces. Thus was born the standard size for a baby carrot.
Next, Yurosek sent one of his workers to a packing plant and loaded the cut-up carrots into an industrial potato peeler to take off the peel and smooth down the edges. What he ended up with was a little rough but still recognizable as the baby carrot of today.
After a bit of practice and an investment in some bagging machinery, he called one of his best customers, a Vons supermarket in Los Angeles. "I said, 'I'm sending you some carrots to see what you think.' Next day they called and said, 'We only want those.' "