Potato Project

The Potato Project – This Little Girl Will Change Your Perspective on Food

Emily is a little girl who decided to test something that was prying at her mind for some time. She created a little potato project to see how long it would take sweet potatoes to grow vines. By buying different varieties and putting them into a glasses of water, she began monitoring how long they would take to grow the vines, if at all.

“My Potato Project”

Emily started off by buying a conventional non-organic sweet potato from the local store. After 3 weeks of monitoring, nothing happened. Thinking she did something wrong perhaps, she tried again with another, but still, nothing happened. She talked to the produce manager at the store about it, and he said, “That won’t grow any vines, it has been sprayed with bud nip. You should try our organic sweet potatoes.”

So taking this advice, she bought an organic sweet potato. After a month it started to grow a small number of vines. Thinking that there may be an even better quality potato, during that same month, she went to a local organic food farmers market and bought one of their potatoes. To her surprise and delight, in only a week that potato began budding and ended up as the potato with the most vines.

Emily did her own research on ‘bud nip’ and found out a few things. They spray bud nip on plants like blueberries, carrots, onions, spinach, tomato beets, and cranberries. When they spray it on the fruits or vegetables, it goes through the whole plant so washing it will not get rid of the chemicals. Making things more alarming to her, she found out that bud nip also kills the animals that it is tested on. And to think this was all originating from a potato project conducted out of the curiosity of a young budding girl!

What is Bud nip/Chlorpropham?

Chlorpropham (also called Bud nip) is a plant growth regulator. It is used as a sprout suppressant for grass, weeds, alfalfa, lima, snap beans, blueberries, cane berries, carrots, cranberries, ladino clover, garlic, seed grass, onions, spinach, sugar, beets, tomatoes, safflower, soybeans, gladioli, woody nursery stock, potatoes and tobacco. Chlorpropham can also be used to prolong the shelf life of the produce.

It is used a lot of sweet potatoes because if an organic potato sits out for too long, it can grow sprouts that are toxic. Potato sprouts have a high content of glycoalkaloids which can interfere with the nervous system’s ability to regulate a chemical responsible for conduction of nerve impulses. If the potato hasn’t turned green or discolored and is still firm, you can just cut off the sprouts and eat it as you generally would.

The Effect of Bud Nip on People and Animals.

Bud nip can seem like it is harmless—as if it is just doing its job when it comes to sweet potatoes. However, there are stacks of studies showing various potentially hazardous side effects on people after ingestion.

It is actually considered moderately toxic through ingestion. In a study done by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, they claimed that “chlorpropham generally has a low acute toxicity” and placed in Toxicity Category III. Their findings were “Chlorpropham is a mild eye and skin irritant, and is practically NON-TOXIC through dermal exposure.”

Potato Project PermacultureHowever, multiple studies have been done that prove that there are a lot more side effects. A dermal study on rabbits showed that they, “produced skin irritation and blood cell changes.” One study using beagle dogs “resulted in reduced body weight gain, anemia, and changes in thyroid function and structure.” Studies from the EPA found that it is toxic through ingestion and it caused anemia, reduced weight, red blood cell destruction, fetal effects, and changes in thyroid function and structure. Studies from Cornell University found slow growth, increased liver, kidney and spleen weights, death, adverse reproductive effects, tumors, and cancer.

Chlorpropham might also be contaminating the water through runoff and affecting the aquatic ecosystems and animals. The chemical is also toxic to aquatic plants, algae, and sediment-dwelling organisms. It also negatively affects honeybees, arthropods, and earthworms.

Even after all of those studies, the product is still approved for use, and the produce that has this chemical in it is still being sold and claimed as “safe” for consumption.

What can you do?

This potato project showed us a few things. Most importantly, you just need to try to be aware of what you are putting into your body and try to eat as organically as possible. More and more people nowadays are trying to eat healthier and more organic, so it is super easy to find organic food in most places. Also, check to see if there is a local farmers market near where you live, those can be great options as well and often everything you get there is locally fresh and organic.

The most healthful choice available is finding a local permaculture farmer and asking to opt into a seasonal food purchasing arrangement. This not only ensures an organic product, but it also ensures that the food is more nutritionally dense, animals were treated well, and the soils are in the best conditions they can be to produce high-quality food.


Additional Resources:

Prickly Pear — What You Need to Know About This Aztec Superfood

Spirit Science 33_1 ~ Let Food Be Thy Medicine


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