For over a century, Americans have had sweet potatoes at their Thanksgiving dinner tables, thinking they’re eating a native American plant. However, the history books seem to be wrong. The root veggie is a myth that scientists have recently debunked!
Researchers at the Indiana University have published their study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They explain how they found out that sweet potatoes actually come from Asia.
The sweet potato comes from a family of plants called morning glory. Until now, scientists believed that the plant first appeared in North America almost 35 million years ago. The findings were according to the plant fossils they uncovered so far.
However, the team of researchers discovered 17 other specimens of fossils of morning glory leaf. They were on a trip in Meghalaya, northeast India when they found 57 million years old fossils of the plant. This meant one thing, says one of the researchers:
“I think this will change people’s ideas”
The researcher continued, explaining that their study is only the first step in a long work:
“It will be a data point that is picked up and used in other work where researchers are trying to find the time of the evolution of major groups of flowering plants.”
How did they know that this fossil is related to the sweet potato plant? The leaves researchers found in India are from the same genus as sweet potatoes – Ipomoea. However, this genus includes other hundreds of plants. So, they don’t know if the region had sweet potatoes, or if they looked like what we eat today.
However, this sweet variety of potatoes is quite important, all over the world. The veggie is full of nutrients, and it also grows easily almost everywhere. It’s a great vegetable in many diets and eating regimens, being crowned as a superfood. Finally, a superfood that tastes amazing!
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.