NC supplies majority of sweet potatoes for US, Europe

Consumer Watch

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina supplies 67 percent of the United States’ and roughly 80 percent of Europe’s sweet potatoes.

And since 1953, Kim Kornegay-LeQuire’s family has been farming sweet potatoes in North Carolina. Every year since then, they’ve planned around the weather.

“The one challenge that you face as a farmer, the biggest challenge is the thing you can’t control, and that’s the weather,” she said.

While rain delayed planting and then harvest, Kornegay-LeQuire said this year’s yields are looking great. Workers spent the day picking up the sweet potatoes and loading them into bins (which each hold 2,000 pounds) before getting them ready to be shipped out.

North Carolina farmers produce more sweet potatoes than any other state in the country, so when you buy them from your favorite grocery store, you’re supporting someone right down the road.

“When you can take advantage of what local produce is available close to you, you’re helping out your local farmer, which are your neighbors, you’re helping out their workers who live locally,” Kornegay-LeQuire explained.

Local farmers constantly plan for the worst, and hope for the best, knowing they’re a huge part of so many of our meals.

“People are depending on us to supply their tables,” Kornegay-LeQuire said. “So it’s always a balance, just a lot of planning a lot of thinking ahead, a lot of paying attention to the weather and just doing the best we can.”

Korneygay-LeQuire also said that our proximity to the coast not only helps the growing season, but it also helps with getting the product to more people.

“Being on the coast with so many locations to ship out has really been a great thing for North Carolina sweet potato farmers and the North Carolina economy also,” she explained.

So as you grab those sweet potatoes for your holiday meals over the coming weeks, think of the North Carolina farmers who helped make that possible.

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