But the Native Americans weren’t without any useful proto-domesticated plants. Tobacco and chocolate are two that come to mind.
Wait…. what? Take a minute and think about that statement. When you think about crops that were a lot more than proto-domesticated long before europeans made it over to the western hemisphere, what should be the first thing that comes to mind?
It’s in the URL of my website! Corn.
Aside from the blatantly obvious one, how about potatoes? Potatoes and corn combined account for a big chunk of all the calories produced around the world today. But maybe crops that actually feed people aren’t sexy enough to come to mind.
So how about chili peppers? Can you picture how different thai and indian cuisine must have been with access to nothing stronger than black pepper?
But these are just some the ones I’d expect everyone to know about. If we open the floor to awesome crops that don’t get as much publicity, how about amaranth? No, not the song by Nightwish. Not the pernicious weed either (although that’s a close relative). I’m talking about grain amaranth.*
Hopefully I’ve made my point. If not I have a whole book full of minor and abandoned crops of the americas, so I could go on all day. And before I’d even have to dig that book out I could go through plenty more everyday and exotic crops most people have probably already heard of (starting with tomatoes and vanilla).
Author’s note: It’s easy to take a single sentence out of context and pick it apart. Hopefully it can also be fun and educational. Source of the original quote.
*Apologies for the dry source material. It was either something like this or one of a number hippie/foodie websites that made me cringe with their unbelievable and contradictory claims about the crop.