This week we are looking at the Columbian Exchange
Here is and interesting link on the new foods that came to the New World:
European explorers set out to find routes to Asia, but their discovery of new lands and new peoples had an effect they never imagined. The exchange of plants, animals, and ideas between the New World (the Americas) and the Old World (Europe) is known as the Columbian Exchange. It changed lives in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Old World Plants and Animals
One exchange to occur was the introduction of new plants to the Americas. When European explorers went to the Americas, they took seeds to plant crops. Bananas and sugarcane, originally from Asia, grew well in the warm, humid climate of some of the places where the Spanish and Portuguese settled. Europeans also planted oranges, onions, and lettuce. Europeans also brought new animals to the Americas. Domesticated animals such as cows, goats, sheep, pigs, horses, and chickens all arrived in the New World with the Spanish.
Before the arrival of the Spanish, the people of the Americas didn’t have many domesticated animals. Even accidental exchanges occurred sometimes. Europeans unknowingly took some plants, animals, and diseases to the Americas. For example, rats hid on ships, and explorers carried germs for diseases such as measles and smallpox.
New World Plants and Animals
While Europeans introduced plants and animals to the New World, they also found plants and animals there they had never seen before. They took samples back to Europe as well as to Africa and Asia.This exchange of plants changed the eating habits of people around the world. For example, Europeans hadn’t tried tomatoes until explorers brought them from the Americas. Now they are a primary ingredient in Italian food. Europeans also took back potatoes, beans, squash, avocados, pineapples, tobacco, and chili peppers. Even chocolate came from the Americas.
Europeans also carried New World products to other parts of the world. In this way, the Columbian Exchange affected Africa and Asia.Many plants from the Americas also grew well in West Africa and Asia. Sweet potatoes, peanuts, and tomatoes became staples in African cooking. American fruits such as pineapple became popular in India. In China, peanuts and maize became major crops.
Along with plants and animals, Europeans introduced their ideas, culture, and technology to the places they explored. People in Asia, Africa, and the Americas all learned new ways of living and working.
Religion and Language
Some of the biggest cultural changes Europeans brought to places they conquered were in religion and language. Christians set out to convert people to their religion. Missionaries went to Asia and Africa, and they also worked to convert American Indians to Christianity. In some places, their religion blended with native traditions to create new kinds of religious practices. In addition to spreading Christianity, missionaries ran schools. They taught their European languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch, the language of the Netherlands. The Impact Today
Besides religion and language, Europeans introduced new technologies. They took guns and steel to parts of Africa. In the Americas, they introduced guns and steel, as well as ways to use the wheel. Europeans also introduced the idea of using animals as technology. They brought horses, which were good for transportation and for carrying heavy loads. Oxen could be used to plow fields. People also learned to make candles from cow fat. European ideas also changed industries in the Americas. For example, animals were used to carry silver from mines. The introduction of sheep and sugarcane also created new industries. People began to make new kinds of textiles and to grow sugarcane on plantations, or large farms.