One of my readers and a fellow history buff told me that sweet oranges came from China. I haven’t had the energy to research it yet, mostly because I trust her. But I can’t help but suddenly feel like my class titled Age of Exploration & Colonization of the Americas had some issues. Which is the class that taught me sweet oranges were a New World commodity.
It also surprises me a bit when I learn that my college professors were handing out incorrect information. I’m not sure why that’s the case. We’re only as good as the resources available to us and professors can get hold of incorrect information just like anyone else.
She cracked a joke about Wikipedia and all I could think was I hope that in 2006, my professors weren’t getting their lecture content from Wikipedia. I don’t consider Wikipedia a reliable source of information, occasionally referencing it only after I’ve verified the validity of the information in an article.
At some point, I realize I will have to do my own research and verify the items I consider New World commodities are indeed New World commodities. I know pineapples were native to South America, but I’m now wondering if tobacco and cotton couldn’t also be imports from Asia and simply attributed to the New World because we built huge agricultural empires around them.
For some years, I had a list from the class of New World Commodities. It was fairly long, I remember, more than a page, but I only remember about a half dozen items from it; Sweet oranges, tobacco, pineapples, pomegranates, cotton, cocoa, potatoes, and maize. Now, I can be certain on potatoes, cocoa, and maize, as these three products figured prominently in the economies of several pre-Columbian civilizations. And frankly, it would be hard for the Aztecs to use cocoa beans as currency if it wasn’t native. Same with Incas and the potato.