|Back to Geography Lesson Plan|
Where Did Foods Originate?
(Foods of the New World and Old World)
Students explore how New World explorers helped change the Old World's diet (and vice versa).
Columbus, explorers, origin, food, timeline, plants, map, New World, Old World, colonies, colonial, crops, media literacy, products, consumer
The early explorers to the Americas were exposed to many things they had never seen before. Besides strange people and animals, they were exposed to many foods that were unknown in the Old World. In this lesson, you might post an outline map of the continents on a bulletin board. Have students use library and/or Internet resources (provided below) to research some of the edible items the first explorers saw for the first time in the New World. On the bulletin board, draw an arrow from the New World (the Americas) to the Old World (Europe, Asia, Africa) and post around it drawings or images (from magazines or clip art) of products discovered in the New World and taken back to the Old World.
Soon, the explorers would introduce plants/foods from the Old World to the Americas. You might draw a second arrow on the board -- from the Old World to the New World -- and post appropriate drawings or images around it.
Adapt the Lesson for Younger Students
Younger students will not have the ability to research foods that originated in the New and Old World. You might adapt the lesson by sharing some of the food items in the Food Lists section below. Have students collect or draw pictures of those items for the bulletin board display.
In addition to library resources, students might use the following Internet sites as they research the geographic origins of some foods:
Food Lists Our research uncovered the Old and New World foods below. Students might find many of those and add them to the bulletin board display. Notice that some items appear on both lists -- beans, for example. There are many varieties of beans, some with New World origins and others with their origins in the Old World. In our research, we found sources that indicate onions originated in the New and sources that indicate onions originated in the Old World. Students might create a special question mark symbol to post next to any item for which contradictory sources can be found
Note: The Food Timeline is a resource that documents many Old World products. This resource sets up a number of contradictions. For example:
- Many sources note that tomatoes originated in the New World; The Food Timeline indicates that tomatoes were introduced to the New World in 1781.
- The Food Timeline indicates that strawberries and raspberries were available in the 1st century in Europe; other sources identify them as New World commodities.
Foods That Originated in the New World: artichokes, avocados, beans (kidney and lima), black walnuts, blueberries, cacao (cocoa/chocolate), cashews, cassava, chestnuts, corn (maize), crab apples, cranberries, gourds, hickory nuts, onions, papayas, peanuts, pecans, peppers (bell peppers, chili peppers), pineapples, plums, potatoes, pumpkins, raspberries, squash, strawberries, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, tobacco, tomatoes, turkey, vanilla, wild cherries, wild rice.
Foods That Originated in the Old World: apples, bananas, beans (some varieties), beets, broccoli, carrots, cattle (beef), cauliflower, celery, cheese, cherries, chickens, chickpeas, cinnamon, coffee, cows, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger, grapes, honey (honey bees), lemons, lettuce, limes, mangos, oats, okra, olives, onions, oranges, pasta, peaches, pears, peas, pigs, radishes, rice, sheep, spinach, tea, watermelon, wheat, yams.
Invite students to agree or disagree with the following statement:
The early explorers were surprised by many of the foods they saw in the New World.
Have students write a paragraph in support of their opinion.
Lesson Plan Source
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Economics
GRADES K - 4
NSS-EC.K-4.1 Productive Resources
NSS-EC.K-4.6 Gain from Trade
GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-EC.5-8.1 Productive Resources
NSS-EC.5-8.6 Gain from Trade
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-EC.9-12.1 Productive Resources
NSS-EC.9-12.6 Gain from Trade
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES K - 4
NSS-USH.K-4.1 Living and Working together in Families and Communities, Now and Long Ago
NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
NSS-USH.K-4.4 The History of Peoples of Many Cultures Around the World
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.1 Era 1: Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)
NSS-USH.5-12.2 Era 2: Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763)
NSS-WH.5-12.6 Global Expansion and Encounter, 1450-1770
Find many more great geography lesson ideas and resources in Education World's Geography Center.
Click here to return to this week's World of Learning lesson plan page.