Maize in the Columbian Exchange

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Maize in the Columbian Exchange During the period of 1450- 1750, there was an exchange of diseases, ideas, and food called the Columbian Exchange. Maize, a rich staple crop was introduced to the Old World countries in Africa, Europe and Asia during the Columbian Exchange. Maize was originally from the Western Hemisphere and it is thought to have first grown about 7000 years ago in Mexico. Corn contributed to both the old and new world economies by taking part in the slave trade. Corn also became an important part of the diets of the people of the regions it spread to. Maize is believed to have come from the domestication of a tall Mexican grass called Teosinte. It was domesticated in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico where the Mayans and Aztecs grew the corn. The first corn grew about 7000 years ago in Mexico (Gibson and Benson “Origin History of Corn”). Over a period of 1000 years the Native Americans transformed Maize by using selective breeding. Maize was a staple crop and food in their diets. The American Indians would also ground dry corn kernels into corn meal which would be used for cornbread, corn syrup, or corn pudding. The husks of the corn cob were braided into masks, baskets, and dolls. Christopher Columbus first discovered corn in 1492 in Cuba. He was gifted corn from the Indians and brought it back to Europe, specifically Spain. Within a few years, it spread throughout France, Italy, all of southeastern Europe, and northern Africa. By 1575, it made its way into western China. It was often used as food for animals as well as humans in these regions. Corn would be found in porridge or bread. China was the quickest to adopt American food plants including corn. Corn reached China during the 16th century through Portuguese ships in Macao. Before corn, Chinese agriculture was based on rice which grew in the river valleys of Yangzi and Huang He. However,

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