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A Free Reading Passage on Wheat in the New World for AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 9

7

0

0

The effect of wheat in the New World is a referenced topic in the Columbian Exchange, Spanish Exploration, and Conquest topic in Period 1 of AP U.S. History. You could reference this example on your AP U.S. History test.



wheat
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Wheat, one of the world’s most important cereal crops, was not native to the Americas but was introduced by European settlers during the Age of Exploration. This introduction of wheat into the New World marked the beginning of significant agricultural developments and economic changes.

The first wheat seeds came to the Americas with the Spanish colonists in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Christopher Columbus brought seeds on his later voyages as part of an effort to bring familiar crops that would help the colonists sustain themselves in new lands. The first successful wheat crops in the New World were planted in Mexico by the Spanish around 1535. The climate proved suitable, and from Mexico, wheat cultivation spread rapidly north into present-day United States and south into South America.


Wheat’s adaptability to different climates and soils made it a valuable crop for settlers. It became a staple food in the colonies, providing a reliable source of sustenance and transforming the dietary habits of both Europeans and Native Americans. Wheat flour quickly became a primary ingredient in bread, which was a familiar staple for the European settlers and gradually became common among indigenous peoples as well.


Wheat cultivation contributed to the prosperity of the colonies. It became a major component of the agricultural economy, supporting population growth and leading to the establishment of mills and the development of baking industries.


While beneficial in feeding the growing populations of European settlers, wheat also had several negative effects on the local environment and indigenous cultures. Ecologically, the cultivation of wheat led to significant changes in the landscape. Vast tracts of land were cleared of their native vegetation to make way for wheat fields, leading to habitat loss and a decrease in biodiversity. This agricultural expansion often resulted in soil erosion and depletion, as the native land was not accustomed to intensive farming practices, which sometimes stripped the land of its natural nutrients.


Socially, the shift to European crops like wheat disrupted indigenous agricultural systems, which had been finely tuned to the local environment for centuries. Traditional foods and cultivation methods were marginalized, which not only affected the diet of indigenous peoples but also eroded cultural practices tied to land and agriculture. The focus on wheat and other European crops also contributed to the displacement of indigenous communities, as European settlers often encroached on native lands to expand their wheat fields. This led to conflicts over land and resources, further exacerbating tensions between native populations and colonists.



PRINTABLE READING PASSAGE ON WHEAT IN THE NEW WORLD

Would you prefer to share a printable passage with your students? Click the image below to grab it!



Wheat in the New World FREE Reading Passage


Do you want to watch a video about the Columbian Exchange?






Columbian Exchange, Spanish Exploration, and Conquest



Period 1



AP U.S. History



Wheat in the New World



#wheat

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 9

7

0

0

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