- The Plate
World Food Prize Winners: Why Sweet Potato Color Matters
Cutting-edge science and a smart education campaign lead to better nutrition and healthier eyes for those at risk of Vitamin A deficiency.
A handful of scientists have spent the last 15 years convincing Africans to swap white sweet potatoes for their more colorful and vitamin-packed cousins, orange sweet potatoes. But if a tuber associated with holiday excess in the U.S. sounds like a strange focus for science, consider this: Those scientists are receiving the world’s most prestigious prize for agricultural research, the $250,000 World Food Prize, which celebrates agricultural efforts that combat food insecurity.
This year’s award not only recognizes the “biofortification” of starchy white- and yellow-fleshed potatoes with Vitamin A by two African scientists—Maria Andrade of Mozambique and Robert Mwanga of Uganda— but the success of a sophisticated campaign, overseen by American scientist Jan Low, to make the food both accessible and