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pesticides - potato vs sweet potato

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  • pesticides - potato vs sweet potato

    Potato is supposedly one of the most heavily pesticide-treated types of produce, but I've been googling to see what produce might be 'safe' enough to buy conventional, and a lot of lists show sweet potatoes to be one of things with the least pesticides used. Does anyone know how true this is, or why? It seems like it would also be heavy in pesticides although I know they're two somewhat different things.

  • #2
    But you are eating the potato, not the potato leaves. I don't see why pesticides would be a problem.
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    • #3
      I can't give you a why, but if I had to guess, it's because white potatoes are such a staple of the US diet. This would mean that they are grown by the largest agribusinesses and so are more focussed on "lotsa food per square foot," and so use traditional (pesticide) growing methods.

      If you look at the EWG's Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists Executive Summary: Eat your fruits and vegetables! | EWG's 2012 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce you can see that the Dirty Dozen are staples of the US diet whereas the Clean 15 are mostly seasonal, regional, or just coming into their own as foods most people eat on a regular basis. (See also the note on corn above the charts.)
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      • #4
        I remember reading an interview with an Idaho potato farmer. He grew his potatoes for his own consumption separately. He actually said in the the interview he would never let his family eat what he produced commercially for the market!!
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Moochy View Post
          I remember reading an interview with an Idaho potato farmer. He grew his potatoes for his own consumption separately. He actually said in the the interview he would never let his family eat what he produced commercially for the market!!
          I think it was from this article:
          The 7 foods experts won't eat | Healthy Living - Yahoo! Shine

          I'm also not sure how sweet potatoes are treated versus regular white potatoes. Maybe we should ask the EWG (the guys that publish the "Dirty Dozen" list) for an explanation.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by AMonkey View Post
            But you are eating the potato, not the potato leaves. I don't see why pesticides would be a problem.
            Because pesticides wash off the leaves into the soil and can concentrate there, so the potatoes are then growing in dirt with a lot of long-term chemical accumulation and so the peels can be very saturated with the stuff. The contamination of the earth with this stuff is why one of the aspects of organic certification is a long period of time when the land has not been treated with any pesticides, since the residues linger for years.

            Sweet potatoes may also be more resistant to pests since they are from a different family than white potatoes and have not been bred into high-yield specialty varieties to the same extent, so their natural resistances may be more robust than the commercial potato types. Better resistance means less spraying.
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