Timeline of the Exchange of Crops After 1492
The Timeline of the Exchange of Crops After 1492 records major dates in what Alfred W. Crosby Jr. named the Columbian Exchange, the exchange of organisms across continents following the European discovery of the Americas and subsequent navigation around the world.
- 1492: While in Hispaniola, Columbus is introduced to ají (chili peppers), sweet potatoes, cassava, amaranth, purslane, beans, and corn. He christens ají (a word still used for peppers in South America) as "peppers" and refers to sweet potatoes as yams, as he is familiar with yams brought from West Africa to Europe by the Portuguese. (The confusion of sweet potatoes and yams continue to this day, as North Americans routinely refer to sweet potatoes as yams.) Columbus wrote how the indigenous make bread from cassava, which he records as cazabe, his best attempt to transcribe the indigenous name for the plant.
- 1493: Columbus brings pigs, cattle, horses, sheep, and goats to Hispaniola, as well as seeds for spring melon, cucumber, Old World squash, radishes, lettuce, onions, parsley, wheat, and chickpeas. He successfully breeds the livestock in the New World, but is only successful in growing some of the plants.
- 1516: Spanish colonists import African plaintains to Hispaniola. They also accidentally import a banana pest, scale insects, with them. The insects have no natural predators in Hispaniola.
- 1610: John Rolfe, after arriving in Jamestown, VA, "talked a shipmaster into bringing him some N. tabacum seeds from Trinidad and Venezuela." Prior to that, Virginia only grew the tobacco species Nicotiana rustica, which was considered far inferior to the species grown in the Caribbean, Nicotiana tabacum. Once the British began importing Virginia tobacco (N. tabacam), they would balance the extra weight in their ships from barrels of tobacco by emptying their ballasts of stones, gravel, and soil in Virginia. This practice transported unknown soil organisms from the UK to Virginia - including, possibly, earthworms.
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Related Sourcewatch Articles
- Raymond Sokolov, Why We Eat What We Eat: How the Encounter Between the New World and the Old Changed the Way Everyone on the Planet Eats, 1991, p. 21-22.
- Raymond Sokolov, Why We Eat What We Eat: How the Encounter Between the New World and the Old Changed the Way Everyone on the Planet Eats, 1991, p. 23.
- Charles C. Mann, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2011, p. 10.
- Charles C. Mann, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2011, p. 39-40.