What’s the Difference Between a Sweet Potato and a Yam?

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Ask a Farmer

My Pa Pa Frank Kornegay would tell people “all yams are sweet potatoes, but not all sweet potatoes are yams.” While a yam is like a potato in shape and texture, and its high starch level makes it technically sweet, it’s still very different from a sweet potato in classification, taste and nutrition. “Yam” is a cute word to say, but I’ll take our N.C. sweet potatoes over true yams any day. Sweet potatoes are a superfood packed with more fiber and nutrients than yams. They’re smoother in texture and sweeter in taste. Many folks in the South grew up having their grandmother’s “candied yams,” but those were really sweet potatoes covered in butter and marshmallows! Our wonderful state produces half of the country’s sweet potatoes, so take pride in our official state vegetable – it would be a yam shame if you didn’t!

Kim Kornegay-LeQuire is a fourth-generation farmer and owner/operator at Kornegay Family Farms and Produce in Johnston County. They have a diverse farm growing sweet potatoes, tobacco, wheat, cotton, soybeans and watermelons.

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