As we hurdle towards Thanksgiving, A conversation popped up the other day with some friends and maybe you wondered this too. What’s the difference between a Yam and Sweet Potatoes? The best answer is, yes - there is.

Like me, have you confused the two? Now you won’t have too. You’ll now be in the know at your Thanksgiving table.

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They often look identical. "Yams" can be purchased for as little as 79 cents per pound, while "sweet potatoes" cost $2.49 per pound. So, what's the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?

Well, at most grocery stores, absolutely nothing. It's all a bag of lies!! "Most of the so-called yams you see in American grocery stores are actually orange-fleshed sweet potatoes," explains Mary-Frances Heck, author of new cookbook ‘Sweet Potatoes’. The reason for the name mix-up, she explains, is because Louisiana sweet potato growers marketed their home grown orange-fleshed product as “yams” to distinguish from other states' produce in the 1930s—and has stuck ever since.


So the real truth is, what you’ve been calling a yam is most likely a variety of sweet potato. Even more, it’s possible that you’ve never even tasted a yam. Because finding a true yam in America, is nearly impossible. You might be able to find them at specialty stores, other than that, they are hard to find.

Yams are grown in Africa and South and Central America. True yams are a starchy, scaly in appearance. They grow best in tropical climates, like Central America.

Yams are more easily compared to the texture and flavor of white russet potatoes (with more fiber and complex carbs).

Sweet potatoes are a “simple starch”, rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber and beta-carotene, with moderate contents of vitamins B5 and B6.

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I did a search for “Yams in Yakima" and have gone to a few grocery stores to find some and could not find any here in Yakima. If you find real Yams, let me know. Would love to try one.

Now you are in the know. When at your Thanksgiving dinner table and things get a little  tense, this could be a great time to cut the tension, and say “Hey, do you know the difference between a Yam and A Sweet Potato?!?”


All My Best,

The JimShow

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