Potato, Potahto

In a recent post, we regaled you with the seven foods food-safety experts won't eat. To accentuate our previous point, we found the above video that shows just how dramatic treated foods are (scorched earth, anyone?). Here's some more food for thought about America's most popular vegetable, the potato.

Root vegetables absorb herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides that have washed into the soil. So these chemicals are not just on the vegetable's surface, they're absorbed into its flesh. Washing and peeling can't get rid of them.

Because potatoes are the nation's most popular vegetable and demand is so high, potato plants are sprayed at every opportunity to keep the spuds blemish-free. During the growing season, the potato plants are sprayed with fungicides... which wash and seep into the soil.  At harvesting time, the vines are obliterated with herbicides to get them out of the way. More seepage down to the taters.  After the potatoes are harvested, they're sprayed directly with a chemical to keep them from sprouting. And they usually won't sprout, even if you try to get them to.

The Daily Green reports that more than 35 pesticides have been detected on potatoes in USDA testing. And Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board, has this to say: "I've talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals."

The only solution is buying organic potatoes, or growing your own. (Read a complete list of the "Dirty Dozen" foods to buy organic, grow your own, or avoid here.

Remember - when you buy organic, you're protecting not only your own health, but the health of the wildlife and ecosystems adjacent to and downhill from those farm fields. When crops are sprayed, so are the soil insects and worms, which are eaten by frogs and birds and lizards....the toxic sprays move right along the food chain, poisoning the whole system. And that includes the streams and lakes and rivers downhill from the cropfields. Rains flow across the sprayed fields and into these surface waters... as well as ground and well water

Heard enough? Find out how to grow your own organic potatoes here.

A note about the above video: Chlorpropham is considered non-carcinogenic (ES EPA Class E). In one study it did cause tumors in rats, which is where people may be "citing" from, but it was in excessive amounts that people would never consume. When humans consume it, it's metabolized into forms that don't cause this same effect, and much of the toxicity associated with chlorpropham is because of the original compound. Up to you whether you think it's appropriate to have any harmful chemicals at all in your food...


Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.