The Columbian Exchange and Potatoes

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Mariah Johnson
Dr. Beaujot
Final: Part 2
14 December 2012

The Columbian Exchange, which started mostly after 1492 when Columbus traveled from the Old World to the New World, can be defined as the time when various items such as plants, technologies and food were carried from the New World to the Old, and vice-versa. The potato is a great example of the Columbian Exchange, seeing as how it was carried from the New World to the Old World, and had a significant impact on Europe, as well as other countries from various continents. Potatoes were first known to be grown in the South America, in the Andes Mountains, and are a crop that is essentially able to grow anywhere in various types of soil. According to a film, Botany of Desire, there are more than 5,000 varieties of potatoes, and 8,000 years ago, potatoes were domesticated, seeing as how some potatoes were at first poisonous, contaminated with aceloide (which made the potatoes green). These ancient potatoes were grown on high altitudes, and in virtually any soil, providing the Peruvians (Incas) with a culture of food that seemed to be endless. When the Spanish came and “destroyed” the Peruvian culture (where within the potatoes were cultivated) the potato remained untouched because Spanish explorers thought highly of the “new-found” crop and it made its way to Europe. In European countries, grain was a popular crop that was grown and the work demanded for quite a lot of laborers, which was a down fall because then there weren’t as many people to work in other fields of work, such as the newly invented factories. There were also famines, frequently, in their grain harvests, especially in Northern Europe, but, the newly exchanged potato allowed for an increased food production in Europe, in places that didn’t have the most grand soil or terrain, and also supported the Industrial Revolution in Europe because the potato allowed for fewer laborers in the fields (compared to the number of laborers grain and...
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