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The Columbian Exchange

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Kristyn Achilich

on 13 January 2014

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Transcript of The Columbian Exchange

First European exports, the horse, changed the lives of Native American tribes on the Great Plains, they shift to a nomadic lifestyle based on hunting bison on horseback

Tomato sauce, from New World tomatoes, became an Italian trademark and tomatoes were widely used in France

Coffee from Africa and sugar cane from Asia became the main commodity crops of extensive Latin American plantations.

To India from the Portuguese, chili/paprika from South America is today an integral part of Indian cuisine, as are potatoes.
Contact between the 2 “worlds” circulated a wide variety of new crops and livestock which supported increases in population in both hemispheres.

To Europe:
maize, potatoes, and tomatoes, became very important crops in Eurasia by the 18th century.

From Europe:
manioc and the peanut to tropical Southeast Asia and West Africa, flourished and supported growth in populations on soils that otherwise would not produce large yields.
one of the most significant events concerning ecology, agriculture, and culture in all of human history.

Christopher Columbus' first voyage to the Americas in 1492 launched the era of large-scale contact between the Old and the New Worlds

New growing regions opened up for crops.

Before AD 1000, potatoes were not grown outside of South America. By the 1840s, Ireland was so dependent on the potato that a diseased crop led to the devastating Irish Potato Famine

In the16th-century Portuguese traders, from the Americas, maize and manioc replaced traditional African crops as the continent’s most important staple food crops

New staple crops that were introduced to Asia from the Americas via Spanish colonizers in the 16th century, including maize and sweet potatoes, contributed to the population growth in Asia
The Columbian Exchange greatly affected almost every society on Earth.

New diseases introduced by Europeans, to which the indigenous peoples of the Americas had no immunity, depopulated many cultures.

Uncertain data - estimates disease-induced population losses between years 1500 and 1650 range between 50% & 90%
oranges in Florida bananas in Ecuador paprika in Hungary tomatoes in Italy potatoes in Germany coffee in Colombia pineapples in Hawaii rubber trees in Africa cattle in Texas donkeys in Mexico
cigarettes in France chocolate in Switzerland
chili peppers in Thailand and India

Fun Fact: The dandelion was brought to North America by Europeans for use as an herb.
Before the Columbian Exchange, there were NO…
This exchange of plants and animals transformed European, American, African, and Asian ways of life.

New foods became staples of human diets
widespread exchange of
human populations (including slaves)
communicable disease
ideas between the Eastern & Western hemispheres (Old World and New World)
What is (was) it?
New World native plants.

Clockwise, from top left:
1. Maize 2. Tomato 3. Potato
4. Vanilla 5. Pará rubber tree 6. Cacao 7. Tobacco
Take Home Points
Growth of the global food system


Multiple stages of trade along trade routes
Slow, indirect; little connection between supply and demand

Direct relationship between supply and demand
Production geared towards consumption ELSEWHERE
First separation of supply and demand
European Control

Disease enables colonization by Europe;

Control of European culture in America;

Europe’s dominance as a world power for many centuries after
Food & Culture

Increased food choices in different locations

More staple foods

More types of food grown

Gradual adoption of new foods into cuisine

Eventually become staples of diet

Increased population b/c of increased staples – especially in Europe
Full transcript