To answer this question, it is important to understand the definition of a cash crop. A cash crop is an agricultural crop grown for the sole purpose of turning a profit. On the other hand, food crops such as potatoes and other vegetables are cultivated for the farmer’s own sustenance. Tobacco and cotton are both examples of cash crops and were prevalent in the southern colonies due to the mild climate conditions.
Native Americans introduced tobacco to Spanish explorers, who then brought the product back to Europe, where it became very popular in England. Growing a cash crop such as tobacco was a savvy move by the Jamestown colony as it helped satisfy this high demand and generated revenue and growth in the region. Since tobacco strips the soil of fertile nutrients, crops had to be rotated and left to replenish every few years, requiring more and more acres of farmland. And the labor-intensive requirements of tobacco farming necessitated more settlers and servants to tend the crops, helping shape the colony’s culture and development.