Everyone knows that we grow, pack, and ship Ham's Yams all across the globe. There is always confusion on whether we are selling ham, yams, or sweet potatoes. Well sweet potatoes are yams, but yams are not sweet potatoes. Confused now? Lets explore how this is possible by looking at the difference between sweet potatoes and yams.
Chances are if you are reading this you have never eaten a true yam in your life. A yam is a very starchy/dry edible root that comes from the Caribbean/African regions and has little to no nutrient value. The yam is in the genus Dioscorea family, which encompasses most edible tubers. Their family members include grasses and lilies.
In contrast, sweet potatoes are a part of the morning glory family (Ipomoea batatas) and actually have no relation to both yams and regular white potatoes. Sweet potatoes contain healthy starches, are high in beta carotene, have more nutrients, and are much sweeter than yams. Sweet potatoes come in numerous color varieties including the most popular orange flesh, as well as the purple and white flesh varieties. When America began importing the orange flesh variety from Africa they needed a term to distinguish them from the white flesh variety. Many importers began to use the African word for sweet potatoes which is "nyami", and eventually they shortened the word to "yam".
Fast forward to present day and the name "yam" continues to be used to describe the American sweet potato. To clear up the confusion the USDA requires that orange fleshed sweet potatoes be labeled as sweet potatoes even though many Americans will refer to them as "yams".