Sweet Potato versus White Potato

“White potatoes are local, seasonal, fresh and nutritious without the food miles and high cost of sweet potatoes” Michael Kelly. We lay out the facts on the sweet potato and how it measures up to the homegrown spud.

Michael Kelly has many pet peeves and one of them is the recent sweet potato fad. After listening to his (admittedly well-informed and entertaining rants) we did a bit of research to see if he's any way justified in his anti-sweet potato stance. 

Before we get any strongly worded letters, we do know that sweet potatoes are not very closely related to white potatoes and are from different families. However, where it counts is on the plate, and people do use them interchangeably in their dinners so we feel justified in comparing them. 

Nutritional Info

Gram for gram there is very little difference between sweet potatoes and white potatoes (even though sweet potatoes are not actually potatoes). A few extra grams of fibre here, or sugar there. Both are perfectly healthy in the right amounts and in the right balance with the rest of your meal. There really is no reason for their elevated heath status compared to the homegrown hero that is the white potato. 

Food miles of sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes available for sale in Ireland are mostly imported from North America, North Carolina and California specifically.

California is 5,000 miles from Ireland, as far away as China. North Carolina is a little closer at 3,555 miles away. If you think about how you would feel after a 3,500 or 5,000 mile journey, the sweet potato probably doesn’t fair much better. But more worrying than the state of the poor spud is the impact on the environment of bringing food so far across the world. If sweet potatoes travel 3,500km by plane that equates to 332 kg Carbon per journey. (Source www.foodmiles.com)

By contrast a potato grown in your garden has zero food miles, loads more taste and comes with all the excitement of digging up your very own gold nuggets!