What crops went to Europe from America and vice versa in the Columbian Exchange.in Jared Diamonds Guns Germs and Steel, and chapter 18-Hemispheres Colliding

pete1875 | Student

The Columbian Exchange or "Great Exchange" really was one of the most significant events in history.  The exchanges led to both progress and destruction; new diseases and also a wide variety of crops.  Overall it led to an increase in life expectancy and population in the world.  And precipitated the conquest of the Americas by Eurasians

From New World to Old World:

  • Corn (Maize)
  • Potatoes (White & Sweet Varieties)
  • Beans (Snap, Kidney, & Lima Varieties)
  • Tobacco (led to proliferation of slave trade)
  • Peanuts
  • Squash
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes (became staple crop in Italian cooking)
  • Pumpkins
  • Pineapples
  • Cacao (Source of Chocolate)
  • Chicle (Source of Chewing Gum)
  • Papayas
  • Manioc (Tapioca)
  • Guavas
  • Avocados

From Old World to New World

  • Rice
  • Wheat (led to increased population in Americas)
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Coffee
  • Sugarcane (led to proliferation of slave trade, became staple crop in Europe)
  • Bananas
  • Melons
  • Olives
  • Dandelions
  • Daisies
  • Clover
  • Ragweed
  • Kentucky Bluegrass (surprisingly not from Kentucky)

Diamonds central thesis is how Eurasian advantages led to the "conquering" of America.  The crops that Europe were able to produce where much more domesticated (ie. wheat, cereals, etc) with the help of animals (ie. horses) however, Native Americans crops were not as "domesticated (and couldn't be worked with the help of animals) which led to more of a "hunter-gatherer" lifestyle.  Europeans could stay put in areas and live closer to each other, hence gaining immunization to certain diseases; differences in political organization and even communication.  Native Americans had a disadvantage because of the types of crops which led to a different lifestyle and susceptibility to disease and to some extent a lack of "bureaucratic" knowledge that is needed in successful enterprise such as empire making.  Diamond goes into much more detail.  Its a great book worth a read


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Guns, Germs, and Steel

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