Friday, March 02, 2007
Sugar cane: part of the Columbian Exchange
The term is used to describe the enormous widespread exchange of plants, animals, foods, human populations (including slaves), communicable diseases, and ideas between the Eastern and Western hemispheres that occurred after 1492.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus' first voyage launched an era of large-scale contact between the Old and the New World that resulted in this ecological revolution: hence the name "Columbian" Exchange.
As an example, the plants that originated in the New World include:
chicle (chewing gum base)
chili pepper (includes the bell pepper)
cocoa / chocolate
cotton (long staple variety, 90% of modern cultivation)
squash (incl. pumpkin)
strawberry (American species used in modern hybrids)