Variations on a Sweet Potato

The easiest, most filling wintertime supper there is...


I used to eat a baked potato everyday, thinking I was doing right by my body by not eating french fries. But, you can do even better. Sweet potatoes give you way more nutrient bang-for-your-buck. Sweet potatoes are famously rich in beta-carotene, which is better absorbed by the body when you add a dose of fat. I gladly douse my sweet potatoes in tahini - it’s an amazing, creamy texture combination - or just slice avocado on top!

The sweet potato is native to Central America and was brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage back from the New World. It is totally unrelated to the yam - what is called a yam in the United States is actually a variety of sweet potato. True yams are starchy and dry, and are in the same family as lilies, which flowered from coast to coast way back before the continents separated. After the separation, yams evolved separately in Asia and Africa. 

Because of the ubiquity of the potato in the diet of the world’s poorest nations, sweet potatoes have been a major player in biofortification. Biofortification, or the intentional increase of a certain micronutrient, is used in staple crops to promote health in a more sustainable manner than handing out capsules of vitamins. 

But wait Hannah, you might be thinking, doesn't that make them GMO potatoes? Indeed it does. Biofortification is known as the Achilles' heel of the anti-GMO cause. Just as you should never trust something just because it is labeled "organic", you should also never distrust something just because it is a GMO product - the GMO can be very noble.