If it’s November, it must be Sweet Potato Month

Part of 2009 sweet potato harvest at wholesaler Lee Farms in Four Oaks

One winter, when I lived alone and could (and did) eat the same thing over and over, I was addicted to a very simple meal of sweet potatoes and green beans. I’d season them both with garlic and butter and savor the sweet and savory, the mush and the crunch.

November is official Sweet Potato Month in North Carolina, so deemed by our governor, Bev Perdue. Of course it doesn’t take a politician to know that the holidays bring out the sweet tater pies, casseroles, and biscuits.

North Carolina is the nation’s top sweet potato grower

But not everyone knows that North Carolina is the nation’s top sweet potato grower. Our farmers produce nearly half the total U.S. production of sweet potatoes, generating more than $175.8 million. The eastern counties of Johnston, Nash, and Wilson grow the most sweet potatoes. Most of those potatoes are produced on large, conventional farms, but small, sustainable farms raise them as well. Take your pick.

If you see sweet potatoes here labeled as “yams,” well, that’s just wrong. Yams are grown in Africa and Asia only and have a scaly, dark-brown skin. Most farmers don’t really care what you call their taters, as long as you enjoy them at the table. Happy cooking and savoring!

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