US Sweet Potato Production – Thanksgiving Viz

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Data Analysis, Tableau, Tech

Tableau worked with data to create a Regional Thanksgiving Recipe visualization. Knowing that sweet potatoes are popular here in North Carolina – that got me hungry for more data on sweet potato production. I grabbed some data from the USDA, learned a bit about sweet potatoes, a bit about measuring crop production – and bam, I noticed something that wasn’t immediately clear to me. At risk of showcasing my ignorance of farming, I opted to go ahead and publish this viz at that point. Often data visualization is about accidental discovery. Often visualizing the data helps you see the questions that should really be asked of others that are closer to the subject matter. I didn’t see this dip in the raw data when it was buried in that USDA archive, but as soon as I used a tool to visualize it – something jumped out. Something changed abruptly in 1950. Did sweet potato production really drop? Did we change incentives / policy on production quotas? Is there something odd with how the production was tracked? Did new health information curb interest? Data will always tell you something. In this case it may tell us that I was sleeping in US History class. Regardless, this is exactly how data analysis works in the real world. Sometimes you have to gather the family and appreciate the insights from others as you recall your fortunate history you turkeys. Enjoy some sweet potato pie. Happy Thanksgiving!
Since that data stopped at 2010 – I decided to take a look at google trends for searches on ‘sweet potatoes’ too. Imagine that, seasonality.:

Vance Fitzgerald

Entrepreneur. Business Analyst with a passion for innovation, customer success & driving revenue.
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