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Sweet Potato History

Columbus brought sweet potatoes to America

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Sweet Potatoes and Yams

© 2006 Peggy Trowbridge

Sweet Potato History

Sweet potatoes, botanically known as Ipomoea batatas, are the root of a vine in the morning glory family and native to the New World tropics. Its history dates back to 750 B.C. in Peruvian records. Columbus brought the sweet potato to England from the island of Saint Thomas.

The Taino word for them was batatas which eventually became patata in Spanish, patae in French, and potato in English. At that time, the term potato referred to the sweet potato, and not the generic white potato as it does in English nowadays. Around 1740, the sweet modifer was added to potato to differentiate from the white potatoes that came to America with Irish immigrants.

In fact, according to noted food historian Waverly Root, the white potato did not arrive in the northern regions from South America until the late 17th century, more than a hundred years later.

More About Sweet Potatoes and Yams

The Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams
Sweet Potato Selection and Storage
Sweet Potato Fact Sheet
Yam Selection and Storage
Yam Fact Sheet
Sweet Potato and Yam Health Benefits
Sweet Potato History
Sweet Potato / Yam Recipes
Sweet Potatoes and Yams Photo © 2006 Peggy Trowbridge, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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