Columbian Exchange

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Inca-era terraces on Taquile are used to grow traditional Andean food, such as potatoes, with wheat from Europe.

The Columbian Exchange, sometimes called the Grand Exchange, is one of the most important events in history. It was the exchange of goods and ideas from Europe, Africa, and Asia and goods and ideas from the Americas. It also spread different diseases. It started in 1492 when Christopher Columbus arrived in the West Indies (North America).[1]

This exchange of plants and animals changed European, American, African, and Asian ways of life. Foods that had never been seen before by people became a major part of what they ate. For example, before 1492, no potatoes were 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.[2] The first European import to the Americas, the horse, changed the lives of many Native American tribes on the Great Plains, letting them to change to a nomadic lifestyle based on hunting bison on horseback. Italy became famous for its Tomato sauce, made from New World tomatoes, while coffee from Africa and sugarcane from Asia became the main crops of very large Latin American plantations. Also the chili and paprika from South America was introduced in India by the Portuguese and it is today an important part of Indian cuisine.

  • w Worlds in the Encyclopedia of Earth by Alfred W. Crosby