In yesterday's NY Times, there was an article entitled Schools Dangle Carrot Snacks, but It’s a Tough Sale.
According to the article, some schools are trying to provide healthier vending machine options - like carrot sticks - but the kids aren't interested. Maybe kids just don't like carrots all that much. But maybe there's another explanation. Maybe the carrots they're selling in these vending machines just aren't delicious.
A few months ago, there was an interview on NPR with Dan Barber, chef/owner of the Blue Hill restaurants. Among other things, he spoke about carrots, and the science of growing delicious carrots. It turns out that carrots have sugar in them, and the sugar makes them taste delicious. This sugar is measured with a Brix test. A really tasty carrot might have a Brix score of 12.
He tested carrots grown at the Stone Barns Center farm, and they scored a 13.8 - off the charts deliciously good.
He also tested commercially available carrots that you or I could buy in a store. These carrots turned out to have a Brix score of 0. Zero. Zero is bad. On a scale of zero to delicious, zero is not delicious.
The NY Times article didn't report the Brix scores of the vending machine carrots, but industrial farming regularly prizes color and shape over flavor, so it wouldn't be surprising if the vending machine carrots scored poorly on a Brix test.
Maybe the problem isn't that kids don't like carrots. Maybe the problem is that schools are trying to get kids to spend their money on food that doesn't taste good. Obviously this is just speculation, but it's speculation based upon years of buying disappointing produce at grocery stores.
I'd be curious to see if the NY Times would do a follow up to test the quality of the vending machine carrots. In fact, I'm going to email the reporter right now.