The Columbian Exchange
“Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492” is a common expression used today about the discovery of the Americas. What happens after the discovery of the Americas? Transculturation. This is the mixing of cultures in which both sides change in one way or another (Murphy, 1-14-13). The Columbian Exchange happened when people from Europe and Africa settled into Latin America and the Caribbean after the discovery of the Americas. The Columbian Exchange brought over diseases to the Americas, plants and animals, and the exchange of silver.
The colonization of the Americas made exchanging animals and plants happen daily. Sugar was one plant that was brought over. Sugar was brought over to Brazil from the coast of Africa (Crosby, 69). Towards the end of the 16th century, Brazil became the biggest producer of sugarcane. At first, sugar was only bought by the rich but over time it was an important crop in everyone’s day to day life. Sugar could be boiled down into concentrated, making it easy to fit in ships, causing it to become the cash crop for centuries (Chasteen, 24). Brazil was producing 57, 000 tons of sugar annually in 1610, in which the English started to produce sugar which drove the production down in Brazil (Crosby, 69). Sugar created harsh working environments and ended up having slaves do all of the work. Slaves were purchased and brought in from West Africa (Wolfe, 150). Maize, potatoes, tomatoes, and many other plants were added to European and Africa diets.
Many crops that exist in European nations have come from the Americas during the Columbian Exchange. Tomatoes were grown in the Americas before they made their way to Italy. Italy is known for their food that uses tomatoes and many people think that the tomato originated in Italy. The tomato got brought back to Italy throughout the trips from the Americas. Maize was introduced to Asia in the 16th century, which was a factor for population growth in Asia (Crosby,...
Cited: Chasteen, “Encounter,” in Born in Blood and Fire, pp. 11-42 (3rd ed), 25-53 (2nd).
Chasteen, “The Colonial Crucible,” in Born in Blood, pp. 49-80 (3rd ed), 59-89 (2nd).
Crosby, Alfred, “Old World Plants and Animals in the New World,” in The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973), pp. 64-121.
Wolfe, Eric, “Iberians in America,” in Europe and the People without History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997 ), pp. 131-157.
Winn, Peter, “The Legacies of Empire” in Americas: The Changing Face of Latin America and the Caribbean (New York: Pantheon Books, 1992), pp. 39-83
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