Many people are surprised to learn that tropical sweet potatoes, native to Central and South America, are commercially grown in Ontario, predominantly along the sandy north shore of Lake Erie. They are often confused with yams, which are native to Asia and Africa and do not grow in Ontario.
Native North Americans were already growing sweet potatoes when Columbus came in 1492.
The most common sweet potato varieties grown in Ontario are Beauregard and Covington.
China is the world’s largest producer of sweet potatoes, growing 80% of the world’s supply.
So why should you eat sweet potatoes?
The sweet potato’s deep orange flesh makes it a nutritional powerhouse. One serving has four times the recommended daily allowance for beta-carotene. Not only does this acclaimed antioxidant, which converts to Vitamin A, help keep our skin, hair and eyesight healthy, but also its low glycemic index makes it ideal for diabetics.
They are high in vitamin B6, which helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been linked to degenerative diseases, including heart attacks.
Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, which plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion, and blood cell formation.
They are a good source of vitamin D, which helps build healthy bones.
Sweet potatoes contain iron and support a healthy immune system.
They are a good source of magnesium, which is a relaxation and anti-stress mineral.
They are also a source of potassium, which helps regulate heartbeat and nerve signals.
Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet-tasting but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain.
Sweet potatoes contain fibre and are fat-free and cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and easy to prepare. For only about 120 calories in a medium sweet potato, they are a great all-around package and can replace regular potatoes in most recipes.
We have a few sweet potato growers here in Chatham-Kent who supply some of our areas food vendors, including some of our local grocery stores. You can also buy them directly at Gladstone Farms (519-676-5984) near Blenheim, Vink Farms (519-809-0376) on Oldfield Line in Chatham, as well as organic sweet potatoes from Paul and Patti Watson (519-627-0566) from the Tupperville area.
Try some locally grown sweet potatoes for your next meal. Try some sweet potato fries or bake a sweet potato pie. Thank you for supporting our local producers.
This time of year our farmers are busy harvesting a number of crops, which means large machinery are traveling our roads. Please slow down and be careful. Our farmers are just doing their job and wanting to get home safely each day, just as you are. Thank you.
Think about this – In creation, we see God’s hand. In redemption, we see God’s heart.
Just some food for thought.
Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our community’s agricultural website at www.wegrowfortheworld.com
Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 45 years. He can be reached at email@example.com
You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’
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