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This Little Girl’s Science Experiment Led Her to Question a Standard Farming Practice

March 3, 2014
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This Little Girl’s Science Experiment Led Her to Question a Standard Farming Practice
The Importance of "Organic" YouTube
When she couldn't get a sweet potato to sprout vines, Elise began an investigation that would teach her about pesticides.

Nine-year-old Elise wanted to do a science experiment to find out how long it would take a sweet potato to grow vines. So she went to the grocery store with her grandmother, bought a sweet potato, and put it in a glass of water. But, as she explains in this video posted to YouTube by Suzanne Bartlett, no matter how long she left the sweet potato in the water, it wouldn’t sprout vines, even after she tried multiple potatoes.

Elise says, “We talked to the produce man at the store, and he said, ‘Well, these will never grow vines. At the farm, they spray them with a chemical called Bud Nip. You should try one of our organic sweet potatoes.” She did, and in a month it sprouted vines. She tried the experiment with an organic sweet potato from another grocery store, and it worked too. Before she knew it, a simple science experiment had turned into an important lesson about pesticides for the precocious little girl.

But Elise didn’t stop there—she continued her research, reading up on Bud Nip, also known as Chlorpropham, and learned that it’s routinely applied to onions, blueberries, tomatoes, and other produce, and that some experiments have shown it to cause tumors in animals. According to the Pesticide Information Project, long-term exposure “may cause adverse reproductive effects.” Elise concludes her video with the question, “Which potato would you rather eat?”

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