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The History of The Spice Trade

Spices are widely used in almost every cuisine, and every type of spice can be found almost anywhere today. Though we might not think much of it, there is an incredible history that led us to be able to have spices readily available to us at reasonable prices. The spice trade began 4,000 years ago in the Middle East and consisted mostly of camel caravans on set routes. One of these routes was the Silk Road, which was crucial because it connected Asia to the Mediterranean. Spices were considered so valuable that workers would be paid in salt or cloves, and even the rich of Europe often had trouble affording the spices they needed. This sparked the European attempts to reach spice-rich countries and obtain the goods themselves. These attempts led to the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, and the first voyage from Europe to India by Vasco de Gama. The expeditions led to the establishments of more trade routes, which reduced the cost of spices as there was no longer an opportunity for suppliers to raise the prices. As the US entered the spice trade, more and more spice companies were formed, which caused prices to plummet even more. Today, spices are affordable and easy to access, which is due to the development of these trade routes. As we look back at history, it is fascinating to learn that spices were the driving force of the development of our society, and that without them, not only would we most likely have very bland food, but our world would most likely look very different.