06/03/2010 11:02 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Redesigning The Sweet Potato

There they go again trying to manipulate real food. It's just not what nature intended!

This time it is one of the most common foods on the food chain totem pole, the sweet potato! A perfectly delicious vegetable, known to many ancient South American cultures and brought to the new world by Christopher Colombus, is all of a sudden not good enough for making sweet potato fries according to ConAgra Foods, citing that the spud is too rounded at the ends, not always uniformly orange in color and varies in degrees of sweetness.

They aim to change all that by working with the Louisiana State University Ag Center. The goal is to tinker with the shape and taste so that restaurants will be able to offer sweet potato fries to their customers that are perfectly matchstick shapeed just like their more popular French fry cousins. To do that they want to coax sweet potatoes into more of a brick shape instead of ones with naturally rounded ends.

Why go through all this nonsense when sweet potatoes, loaded with vitamin A and high in fiber, are best baked, not fried. At a time when our national conscience should be focused on more healthy eating, redesigning the sweet potato to meet an unhealthy demise in a vat of boiling oil seems to be contrary to the goal. It's another good example of how real foods are disappearing at an alarming rate, and genetically engineered ones are gracing America's dinner table more and more each day.

Sweet Potato Casserole
Serves 6 to 8

This layered casserole of baking potatoes and sweet potatoes is enhanced with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and baked to a crispy finish.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound all purpose potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
1/2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
4 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, cut into slivers with a vegetable peeler
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated nutmeg to taste

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and olive oil in a cast iron or other heavy-duty ovenproof pan.

Make an overlapping layer of all purpose potatoes in the pan to fill in the pan completely. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Scatter 1/5 of the cheese slivers over the potatoes.

Make a layer of sweet potato slices over the all purpose potatoes, going in the opposite direction. Season and scatter with cheese.

Continue making layers until all the potatoes are used. Pour remaining butter and olive oil over the top.

Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 25 minutes longer, until potatoes are tender and browned at the edges.

Cut into wedges and serve.