Clare McCullough


The Versatile Beauty of Sweet Potatoes

I usually get my sweet potatoes from my local supermarket or farmer’s market when I can make it there on the weekends. A 2005 Gallup poll ranking the least favorite thanksgiving foods; sweet potatoes placed solidly in third most despised. Despite this poll, I have found a haven in the slightly sweet and earthy vegetables. During Thanksgiving meals, Twenty-one percent of Americans put cranberries as their least favorite, seventeen percent of United States citizens placed, all vegetables as their second least favorite. Finally, roughly one in ten Americans said sweet potatoes or yams were their least favorite food at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

But in 2019, health is the new trend. Begone from the millennial’s table are mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, welcome is the farro and sweet potato gratin. Although most are pleased and intrigued by the green and orange offerings made every turning of the leaves, most of my family members avoid it. According to sanfordhealth, Millennials value health the most, besides their family. Wellness is brought by daily achievements. One of those achievements, for me, is delivered sweet and steaming from the oven, preferably with garlic and thyme.

My sweet potatoes are a robust orange. Their dark orange peels lining the bottom of my garbage can and they are properly prepared, I sharpen my Wusthof chef’s knife. I push the sharp blade into the tuber until I hear the clack of the knife against my fluorescent orange cutting board. It is a celebration of orange. Since moving to a big city after finishing my undergraduate career, I find myself going back again and again to the beautifully versatile and cheap sweet potato. Eat them with black beans and spicy salsa for a vegetarian taco. Another day, you could finally utilize the immersion blender that your mom got you for Christmas two years ago. You know the one that you have used a total of four times? It makes it a snap to boil and blend into a creamy soup with ginger and turmeric that warms your insides and lifts your spirits. You could even put it into a pie for Thanksgiving or really anytime is good for pie.

Rich in complex carbohydrates, gluten-free but still packed with dietary fiber and loaded with beta-carotene it is no wonder that it has graced the tables of American kitchens for centuries. Although they belong to a different biological family, often, they are treated like every other potato, whether Russet or Yukon. They are deep-fried. Eat them with ketchup or mayonnaise and whatever other condiments strike your fancy and let the grease help the bad feelings slide right out of you. You can roast them in the oven with paprika and eat them with leafy greens.

Funnily enough, despite my steadfast loyalty to the spud, I never grew up with it. Most likely because although now I live in humid Houston, Texas; my place of birth and coming of age was snowy and frosty Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sweet potato plants, according to, because they are unrelated to regular potatoes they require the warm temperature to germinate full-sized and harvestable tubers.

Like most of us, sweet potatoes need a little bit of love and warmth to get to where they need to go. Despite being third-to-last in likeability in terms of thanksgiving, they have placed solidly in first in my apartment.

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