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. … 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. … Today, these babies come from one place: Bakersfield, Calif. The state produces almost three-quarters of U.S. carrots because of its favorable climate and deep, not-too-heavy soil.