The thought of our food being sprayed with chemicals never sits well with anyone. So the YouTube video of a little girl talking about conventional sweet potatoes being sprayed with a chemical called “Bud Nip” caught my attention.
My Search for the Truth: Are Sweet Potatoes Sprayed with Bud Nip?
I love sweet potatoes! And it is shocking to think my beloved root is allegedly sprayed. But I wanted to find out more. I couldn’t just take a YouTube video as the truth without searching for some answers myself. So I called Sue Johnson-Langdon, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. “I’ve been in the sweet potato business for 30+ years; I’ve never heard that sweet potatoes are sprayed with Bud Nip,” said Johnson-Langdon. Indeed, Bud Nip is registered to be use in potatoes only, not sweet potatoes; we haven’t found any documentation to show that Bud Nip is registered to be used in sweet potatoes!
A conversation with organic potato farmer Rob Jones confirmed that conventional potato farmers may use Bud Nip, or other products such as DMN. Bud Nip, which may also be known as Sprout Nip, contains an active ingredient called chlorpropham. Chlorpropham is a sprout inhibitor, usually applied one month after harvesting. These chemicals certainly are not allowed in organic farming. So what’s Jones’s first line of defense for preventing sprouting in his organic potatoes? Inventory control. “We try to sell our less dormant crops early and keep the more dormant ones ’til late,” said Jones, owner of Jones Farm Organics in Colorado.
So why did the three sweet potatoes sprout differently in the YouTube video? “Sprouting outcomes depend on many factors, notably temperature and humidity,” said Johnson-Langdon. “Any changes in the environment can affect the sprouting outcomes.”
The Bottom Line
Don’t get scared away from sweet potatoes because of this YouTube video! As seen in our food of the month feature last November, sweet potato is an excellent source of beta-carotene and a very good source of Vitamin C. The darker the yellow or orange color, the higher it is in beta-carotene. Purple-fleshed sweet potatoes are actually a good source of anthocyanins, a type of potent antioxidant. As a fulfilling starchy root vegetable, sweet potato is also high in fiber but not too high in glycemic index, making it a great option for people who have diabetes.
As for potatoes, please choose organic varieties if you worry about Bud Nip.