I have a friend who once found a delightful surprise when digging up carrots from her garden. She discovered that two carrots had essentially fused together in what looked like a gardening science experiment gone awry. Apparently, such mysterious carrot phenomena aren’t uncommon, but if you buy carrots from the grocery store, you’re unlikely to ever find a misshapen, quirky carrot.
Did you know that before they’re packaged and shipped to supermarkets all over the country, carrots are scanned and evaluated for visual abnormalities? It’s true! The ones that are “optically deficient” are removed from the packaging process, cut up and put to use elsewhere. As writer Carey Dunne muses, “Who knew our produce aisles were so highly curated?”
This process is actually what inspired a wonderful new book by British photographer Tim Smyth. In Defective Carrots, published by Bemojake Books, Smyth pays homage to the carrot castaways that were discarded due to their unusual appearances. “Defective Carrots is a typology of carrots that have been deemed unfit for consumers’ eyes,” explains the book’s synopsis. Whereas these carrots are perceived as unattractive and thus unfit for profit, Smyth finds them to be beautiful in their own unique way. His book features photographs of “defective” carrots, such as ones with crookedness, a defect called “fanging,” and discolored, spotted carrots. There are also photographs of carrots that have fused together, just like the one my friend found in her garden.
While we’re on the subject, carrots are pretty great, aren’t they? I’m looking forward to roasting come carrots with a little honey, sea salt, and pepper as a lovely side dish for the upcoming holidays. What do you think about Smyth’s book of wonderfully defective carrots?