Sweet Potato Not Just for Thanksgiving Anymore


Sweet potatoes are not just Thanksgiving meal fare any more, finding their way in a variety of year-round products. Rod Bain has more:

One of the more popular side dishes of the thanksgiving dinner is the sweet potato.  But, in recent years, that vegetable has become more than a Thanksgiving time dish.

“I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for the sweet potato to become so popular.”

Jennifer Fishburn of University of Illinois Extension.  She’s a fan of the nutritional content of sweet potatoes:

“Sweet potatoes have not fat, they’re low in sodium, they’re high in fiber, they’re cholesterol free, they contain lots of vitamins and minerals,  including vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene…”

She says both a recent expansion in marketing efforts, and in products has grown the interest in sweet potatoes among consumers…

“The sweet potato fries, we see those at a lot of state fairs, that really opens the eye for folks to realize that the sweet potato is used in other ways than just at Thanksgiving dinner with a little brown sugar, marshmallows and butter sprinkled on top, that it can be used in many other ways, from casseroles to baked to soups, and chili, there’s even sweet potato ice cream, pancakes, pudding.  And you’re starting to see the pancakes on the menus of restaurants.”

Of course, consumers can enjoy sweet potatoes at home, as well.  Keep in mind that sweet potatoes and yams, both similar and popular Thanksgiving dinner side dishes, really aren’t one in the same:

“Sweet potato is actually a root, and expanded root.  And a yam is a tuber.  But, the biggest difference we know is that they’re two separate vegetables from two separate families, so they’re not even related.”

She says while orange is the most familiar color of sweet potato, various cultivars can range in color from white to reddish orange.  Fishburn says with proper storage, a damage-free sweet potato can last up to six months.

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.