Luyện Nghe VOA - Six Foods That Changed the World

Six Foods That Changed the World
Food affects more than people’s bodies. It (1)_____________ to social status, empires and the outcome of wars.
So what foods have helped shape (2)______________?Christopher Cumo, author of “Foods That Changed History,” says these six crops have played a (3)__________.
One food (4)_________ of the list is the potato.
Ahh …. When you think about foods (5)___________ the potato — french fries, potato chips, mashed potatoes and potato salad — what is there not to like about potatoes?
The potato is the world’s largest (6)______________. People in the English-speaking world call it the “white potato” or “Irish potato” to distinguish it from the (7)____________.  
Author Christopher Cumo says South Americans introduced the potato to the Spanish in the (8)________________. The Spanish loved it and quickly brought it back to Europe.
But many (9)______________ the potato plant was related to a lot of other plants that had (10)_____________ leaves and stems. They believed the potato was also poisonous. So for a time, Europeans would not eat it.
However, Cumo says, Europeans’ (11)__________ changed when they learned how many calories one smal lpotato offered.
“Farmers (12)____________ potatoes and they were? so important because they provided a dense packet of nutrients and calories. So that if you only had a (13)___________ of land and you had to plant something that yielded (14)____________ calories, you planted potatoes.”
Farmers also liked the potato because it protected them against (15)__________. Cumo explains that armies traditionally fed themselves by stealing grain from farmers’ fields.

"Well, farmers (16)_______________ that if they plant potatoes no army would camp long enough to dig up all the potatoes because you are too vulnerable to (17)_____________ at that point. So the potatoes saved farmers from the (18)________________ of starvation during warfare.”

Ireland even came to (19)_____________ the potato. However, in the 19th century a (20)_____________ killed millions of acres of potatoes. The loss caused a (21)____________. A million Irish people died, and millions more migrated to the United States and Canada.

Next on the list is that white, crystal-like substance used in many (22)______________ and sodas: sugar.  
Beyond the way it expands our waists and rots our teeth, Cumo says sugar (23)___________ tragic role in the new world.
“I’m thinking (24)____________ about the tropics: the Caribbean islands and all of tropical America, even Brazil and in countries of that sort. They all (25)___________ sugar cane to feed the demand for sugar -- (26)______________ being the plant from which we derive sugar."
These countries developed large, (27)_____________ sugar cane estates. But the workers kept dying of new European diseases.
So (28)_____________ looked for a new source of labor. They found it in Africa. In other words, sugar fueled the African slave trade.
“So our sugar came at a (29)_____________, I would argue, at the price of many lives and aspirations destroyed over (30)______________.”​

This next food is the (31)________________ in the world. But three-quarters of it go to farm animals.
Cumo says maize — also known as corn — is not (32)____________ a food for humans; however, it has long been a cultivated crop for people in the Americas.
“Worldwide, in large places in (33)_____________ and Mexico, people are much more willing to eat corn as a food. So it’s an important part of Mexican (34)____________. You can go to any Taco Bell in the world and order your corn tortilla.”
Cumo says native people in North and South America (35)_______________. To them, he says, it was too important to feed to the llamas!
Today, corn that people and animals do not eat is (36)____________ – changed into a variety of products. For example, corn can be converted to ethanol that is used in (37)_____________ as well as in gasoline.  
Corn can also be converted into corn syrup to sweeten sodas, (38)______________, yogurt and salad dressings. If you ever had gravy or sauce on your food, corn starch or corn flour is used as (39)_____________.
And how about those non-food products such as batteries, make-up,(40)___________, insecticides, detergents, leather, rubber tires and tobacco?Elements of corn are in those, too.

Bottom line: Corn is in many things. It is a part of life (41)____________________.Corn is found in some baby formulas for infants, as well as in embalming fluid to (42)____________ the bodies of the dead.
Need I say more?

Rice may be (43)________________ than corn as a food crop. Corn is used for many items, but rice feeds half the (44)______________.
Cumo says most humans get the (45)______________ of their calories from rice. It is a major part of the diet in China, (46)_______________ and much of India. Rice is also an important food in parts of Africa.  
In fact, Cumo says rice is so important that it has a (47)_______________. In some cultures, rice is a symbol of women and (48)_______________. Other cultures have special ways they farm and store rice. The rituals (49)_____________, as well as protect its power to give and sustain life.
“So rice has not only sustained people but it’s sustained the (50)_______________of all of these millions and now billions of people worldwide."​
Fish is also essential. Many (51)___________________ eat fish, including humans.
Modern humans used (52)________________ to spear fish in Europe’s rivers and lakes; however, early humans — Neanderthals — did not learn how to fish.Therefore, fish might have (53)_____________________ role in their extinction 28,000years ago.  
Cumo says the fish has also become a worldwide (54)__________________.
“You can read a number of stories in the (Christian) Gospels in which Jesus eats a (55)_________________ after his resurrection, or tells his friends to cast their net in another part of the lake where they’re able to capture many more fish.So fish has been enormously (57)____________________."
As a result, he says, the image of a fish is often (58)___________________ Christianity.
Beans are grown and eaten all over the world. They are members of thelegume family. This protein-rich, low-cost crop is related to a number ofimportant food plants, including lentils, peas, beans, peanuts and soybeans.
Cumo explains that as farming developed, so did hierarchies. Those withmoney and power could afford meat. But most people were not wealthyenough to buy animals to eat. So where did they get their protein? Largelyfrom beans.
“It’s interesting to note that if you combine say beans and corn — which youhave beans being an American crop and corn being another American crop,both developed in southern Mexico — you get a complete package ofamino acids so the body doesn’t need anything more to meet its dailyprotein requirements.
"And you find this true for people throughout the world. If they combinesoybeans, a close relative of beans,with whole grain rice, you get theperfect complement of proteins.”
He says people after people after people have combined beans and grainsto get almost all the nutrients they need for their day-to-day existence.
In other words, beans — along with potatoes, sugar, corn, rice, and fish —have played a very powerful role in human survival, as well as in humanhistory.
I’m Christopher Jones Cruise.
And I'm Marsha James.
Marsha James wrote this story for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.
What do you eat in your part of the world: potatoes or rice? Or both? Writeto us in the Comments section or on our Facebook page.   

Words in This Story

distinguish v. to notice or recognize a difference between people orthings
poisonous adj. very harmful or unpleasant
rot – v. to slowly decay or cause something to decay
rapidly adj. happening quickly
derive – v. to take or get something from something else
aspiration n. something that a person wants very much to achieve
cultivated adj. raised or grown on a farm or under contolled conditions
convert v. to change
bottom line – n. the most important thing to consider
sustain v. to provide what is needed for someone to exist
extinction n. a coming to an end or dying out
protein n. a substance found in foods that is an important part of thehuman diet
status - n. the position of someone or something when compared to others
empire - n. a group of areas that are under the control of one ruler orgovernment
calories - n. a measurement of heat used to show the amount of energythat foods produce in the body
estates - n. large pieces or land
llamas - n. a South American animal, often used for meat and for carryingsupplies
resurrection - n. the Christian belief that Jesus Christ returned to life afterhis execution

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