Bugs Bunny would be pleased.
Carrots — the old standby of the vegetable drawer — are enjoying newfound admiration. Chefs love their flavor and (not always orange) color. They crave their crunch and adaptability.
As a bonus, carrots combine a massive dose of antioxidants along with good taste, making them a healthful side dish of choice. And unlike many vegetables, fresh carrots are in season throughout the winter and the rest of the year, too.
California is the carrot capital, producing about 80 percent of the nation’s crop.
“We’re able to grow carrots year-round, but the larger production time is for winter harvest,” said Nathan Sano, manager of the California Fresh Carrot Advisory Board.
In 2012, California grew 1.9 billion pounds of carrots, according to the board. Of that total, about 70 percent was turned into baby-cut carrots.
“Baby-cut” aren’t really baby carrots; they’re fully mature, small-diameter carrots. Farmers plant these carrots closer together so the roots stay slim.