The results of a young girl called Elise's experiment have a lot to tell us about what goes into our vegetables.
The experiment, which was filmed in 2011, has gone viral with over 1.2 million views. Elise explains how she tried to sprout vines from three different kinds of sweet potatoes -- a non-organic potato from the grocery store, an organic potato from the same store, and a potato from an organic food market -- by partially submerging them in mugs of water. The outcome is startling: The first potato failed to sprout entirely, the second finally grew "wimpy little vines" over a month, and the third had long green shoots after only a week.
Elise and her grandmother were told that the reason for the different results is the application of the chemical chlorpropham, commercially known as '"Bud Nip." According to the Pesticide Information Project, chlorpropham is a "plant growth regulator used for pre-emergence control of grass weeds" and is sprayed on a long list of produce items.
"Chlorpropham can kill animals that they've tested it on. It can even cause tumors. With all the chemicals, no wonder so many people are getting diagnosed with cancer. Which potato would you rather eat?" Elise says at the end of the video.
But Professor Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill University's Office for Science & Society, takes a less alarming approach to the chemical's use. In a blog post in response to the video, Schwarcz admits chlorpropham can be toxic in large doses, but explains that "a great deal of work goes into determining safe levels for humans. And the amounts found on sweet potatoes are way way below any level that would pose a danger."
Still, little Elise's experiment gives us some food for thought.