Workers sort potatoes in the field, collecting small and large ones in different buckets. Each bucket weighs 30 pounds or so. A worker will shoulder that bucket and dump it into a flatbed truck 400 to 500 times a day. It's a daily load of 6 or 7 tons of sweet potatoes. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

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Now that's a big root: Sweet potatoes aren't tubers, or thickened stems, like potatoes. Sweet potatoes are roots — swollen and packed with starch. U-ichiro Murakami/Flickr.com hide caption

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NPR producer Olly Dearden is a fan of most classic Thanksgiving dishes, but calls sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows a "culinary abomination." Stephen Little/Flickr hide caption

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A well-traveled root: A vendor sells sweet potatoes at a market near Manila in 2011. The Portuguese brought the root to the Philippines all the way from the Caribbean. Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Sweet potato evangelist Maria Isabel Andrade from the International Potato Center drives around Mozambique in her orange Toyota Land Cruiser. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

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