Tag Archives: label

Open letter to produce managers re: yams

Dear Produce Manager,

If you want to sell more orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, craft your labels with “yams” in parentheses, like this:

Sweet potatoes (“yams”)

Because you are a produce manager, you undoubtedly know that a yam is a completely unrelated thing, so using quotation marks will indicate to ignorant shoppers that you are not actually selling yams. As you also surely know, “yam” is regional slang used by some (generally older folks) to refer to a sweet potato that has orange flesh. But if you only have “yams” on label, some shoppers might get flustered and leave for another store that labels sweet potatoes as “sweet potatoes.” Still others are looking for a specific variety of orange-fleshed sweet potato (Beauregard, Jewel, etc.), so list that, too. E.g.,

‘Beauregard’ sweet potatoes (“yams”)

That’s a lot of text, but different varieties are good for different recipes, and some of your customers are over-educated foodies who care deeply about such details. Ideally, cut one in half and cover in plastic wrap to convince skeptical shoppers that it does, indeed, have orange flesh.

Sincerely,
Colin Purrington

These are sweet potatoes

Posted in Biology, Education, Food, Gardening, Graphic design, Health, Photography, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Selling sweet potatoes as yams is illegal

I didn’t realize this until recently, but apparently if a company or store labels sweet potatoes as “yams,” they can get in trouble with the United States Department of Agriculture, which views sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) and yams (Dioscorea spp.) as distinct commodities. So if you feel a product label (or bin label at the store) gets the identification wrong, just snap a photograph and email to the USDA’s Misbranding and Misrepresentation Office. The responding officer then gets in touch with the company or store and ask the labels be updated. Of course, it’s probably often true that labels are just inadvertently misleading, such as in stores where produce managers don’t know what a yam is — the USDA would never fine those individuals, I suspect. If enough people reported these instances, the confusion over yams and sweet potatoes would drop, and fast. Less confusion is always a good goal, but this getting ridding of the “yam” slang would be extra good because it makes life a tad safer for those with sweet potato allergies (they might eat one if it is labelled “yam”).

giant-sweet-potato-05 (1)The product above has sweet potatoes, by the way. They are not yams. If you shop at Giant Foods, make a habit of looking at the labels on their sweet potatoes … might be changes coming soon.

Posted in Biology, Education, Food, Gardening, Graphic design, Health, Photography, Science | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet potatoes and yams

Some photographs to get you excited about starches on Thanksgiving.  If you’re curious about the difference between yams, sweet potatoes, and potatoes, please refer to my page, “Yams and sweet potatoes are not potatoes.”

colin purrington photography: plants &emdash; yam-display-at-ethnic-grocer
The bin of “#1 American yams” is filled with sweet potatoes. The labeling mistake is a common one. The white yam and yellow yams are actual yams.
colin purrington photography: plants &emdash; purple-yams
Okinawan sweet potatoes label as yams. They are not yams.
colin purrington photography: plants &emdash; oriental-sweet-potato
Oriental sweet potatoes. Note that sweet potatoes are not potatoes.
colin purrington photography: plants &emdash; potatoes
Potatoes are unrelated to sweet potatoes.

 

Posted in Biology, Education, Food, Photography, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment