Create Art / The Columbian Exchange

Where do our favourite fruits and vegetables originate?

It is hard for us all to imagine a time when Italian cuisine didn’t involve tomatoes and Irish soil had never grown a potato. However, prior to Columbus’ accidental journey to the New World foods such as these had never before been seen in Europe, Asia or Africa.

Provide a selection of fruits and vegetables which originate from The Americas and place them on tables for students to sketch. Pumpkin, tomato, potato, sweet potato, corn, pineapple, beans, and vanilla pods are some examples. Watercolour paints can then be used to bring their drawings to life. This activity can be a valuable opportunity for young artists to take notice of shadow and shading techniques.

Students may like to brainstorm as a class what it must have been like to taste these foods for the very first time. From the perspective of an Old World sailor students write a paragraph about this experience. Writing their response with nib and ink gives an effective Old World appeal.

This activity is ideal for classes learning about the positive and negative affects of first contact with indigenous peoples during the Age of Discovery, or as an exercise in multiculturalism.

Why not complete the lesson with hot chocolate made from the exotic cocoa bean!