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How The Columbian Exchange Changed Our World Forever

1056 words - 5 pages

Products, like potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate and tobacco, have become part of our everyday life. But only since the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus these products had been brought to our regions. After this discovery, the Columbian exchange started: products were transported from the New World to the Old World and vice versa. It must be said that this exchange had an enormous the world: without the Columbian exchange, the world would have looked quite different. In his essay, Charles C. Mann (2007) stated “It is arguably the most important event in the history of life since the death of the dinosaurs.”
Firstly, the Columbian exchange transformed the American ecological environment dramatically. Charles C. Man (2007) explained that due to the success of Rolfe’s tobacco plantation in Jamestown English earthworms had been transported from the Old World to the New World. As these worms were extinct in the American continent, these insects provoked a lot of damage when they ate the litter beneath the trees. When it rained, all the nutrients required by the trees to survive were leased away. Consequently, many trees died and the landscape became more open than it had been before. However, the worms were not the only ones who were responsible for the drastic change in the American landscape. Additionally, the colonists themselves transformed the genuine landscape, shipping their domestic animals, which were fully unknown for the Native Americans, to the New World. Before the arrival of the colonists, the American environment consisted of large cleared tracts of land because the Indians used to burn the bush to keep the land open. When the colonists arrived with their cattle, they started to build fences to make the area more civilized, however, many animals succeeded in eating the Indian crops. Thirdly, the European honey bee had also an impact on the environment as European crops (for instance peaches) could only grow in the new environment because the bees pollinated the blossoms of the trees. Finally, also the success of tobacco made the area more open. As tobacco plants make the land exhausted, the colonists were driven more inland to make sure that the crops could grow and because there was a huge demand for the tobacco from Jamestown, more tracts of land were divided to grow tobacco.
Secondly, the Columbian exchange caused ‘The Dietary Revolution’ as it changed the world’s food pattern. Before the Columbian exchange, an average European peasant mainly lived on grain which was a very vulnerable crop. In the Middle Ages, many Europeans starved when the grain harvest was bad because the population had no substitutes. This issue changed when the explorers brought new crops (especially potatoes and corn) from the New World which were less vulnerable but had the same nutritional value. The most important crop brought from the New World was the potato. According to Chapman (n.d.) , the benefits of the potato are that they contain almost...

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