Spain's discovery of the New World had one of the most far-reaching impacts on world civilization in history. Not only did it facilitate the rise of the Spanish Empire, but more importantly, it also brought about the Columbian Exchange—the term used to describe the significant transfer of crops, animals, and microbes after Columbus connected the Americas to the rest of the world. The effects of Colombian Exchange dramatically altered the world balance as diseases ravaged the indigenous populations, Old World livestock altered the American ecosystems, and the world's population experienced an extensive boom with the introduction of New World crops. This lesson focuses on the influence of Columbian Exchange on food across the world.
- Discuss the impact of the spread of crops between the New and Old Worlds.
- Track a crop from the New World to the Old World and identify its impact on at least three different regions.
- As a class, ask students what they food they identify with Italy (tomato), Ireland (potato), and Belgium (chocolate). Explain that those items, along with corn, peppers, peanuts, vanilla, and pineapples all had their origins in the New World. Have them imagine a culinary world without those items.
- Watch the Health and diet of New World peoples and How New World crops and wealth influenced Europe video clips
- Explain that students will be working on a project that traces the impact of the Columbian Exchange on food. Outline the following requirements:
- Research the origins of the assigned crop
- Find at least three dishes from different regions outside of the New World that use the crop.
- Analyze the overall influence of the dish and how the New World crop was integrated.
- Using Google Maps
* or Google Earth, plot the origins and the regional dishes on the map. Embed the research findings and any relevant multimedia.
* Teachers can also set up a shared Google Map that allows everyone in the class to contribute to a single map.
- Provide time for the students to research their crops using the provided resources and their own Google searches for recipes.
- Students should then create their Google Maps.
- Have students share their findings.
- As relevant, discuss the importance of individual crops on population growth and cultural diffusion.
- Sweet Potato