The Columbian Exchange Essay

Words: 1087
Pages: 5

The Columbian Exchange is the exchange of plants, animals, food, and diseases between Europe and the Americas. In 1492, when Christopher Columbus came to America, he saw plants and animals he had never seen before so he took them back with him to Europe. Columbus began the trade routes which had never been established between Europe and the Americas so his voyages initiated the interchange of plants between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, which doubled the food crop resources available to people on both sides of the Atlantic. When the Europeans explored the Americas, they were introduced to new plants, foods, and animals, as well as riches and land. Foods such as corn, white and sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes, cacao, fruits, …show more content…
Although the exchange created enormous increases in food production and human populations in the Americas, it also led to deforestation and destroyed the ecological stability of vast areas. Increased erosion of the land led to the extinction of many life-forms. Plants like Kentucky bluegrass, dandelions, daisies, white clovers, and ragweed originated in Europe and when they made their way to the Americas, they spread like diseases, eliminating some of the native plants. Sugarcane became one of the major components of the Columbian Exchange and the principle commodity for stimulating the American slave trade. The initial labor for sugarcane plantations in America was the Native Americans; however, after many died from diseases and labor, African slaves were brought in to replace them. Europeans sailed to West Africa and took shiploads of Africans to the New World to work on sugar plantations and work in the cotton fields. Several million Africans were taken against their will to the New World, causing a drastic drop in the male population in West Africa. There were long-term negative effects of the Columbian Exchange throughout Europe as well as the Americas. Introducing new food crops, such as potatoes, enabled the Europeans to feed more people, which also caused an increase in populations. In Ireland, populations increased because of the potato. They became dependant on it until entire crops were wasted because of a fungus in