Part IV: Food, Energy, and Industralization
Part IV: Food, Energy and Industrialization
As more and more plants began to be imported into Europe, more and more people became interested in them. Soon, botanists were studying and adapting plants left and right. People wanted to understand plants so that they could put them to use in as many ways possible. They wanted to understand these plants so they could develop new cures for diseases that came with trade ships from tropical regions, as well as to find out how to make money off of new plants.
One of the most popular plants was sugarcane. It was becoming increasingly popular in Europe as well as in the United States. Sugar was a convenient way to get calories. Workers could easily spread treacle or jam onto bread. This supplied more calories, with less work. No cooking was necessary. But, working at a sugar processing plant was dangerous work. The United States began to import slaves to work the sugar processing plants. This created a trade triangle. Sugar was processed and then shipped to Europe to be used for cooking and selling. Manufactured goods, such as textiles, were shipped to Africa and then used to purchase slaves, which were then sent back to America to work the sugar processing plants. This was the beginning of the slave trade. Many slaves, sadly, did not live to see America after they had been purchased.
The manufacturing of sugar cane led to much more than a product of sugar. It was the beginning of the industrial revolution. As sugar became more popular, there was a higher demand for it. Sugar companies began to streamline how they produced sugar. Expensive machinery was made and brought in to hurry the assembly line. The machinery was powered by wind, water, and animal power. This newfangled way of producing sugar, “prefigured the equipment later used in the textile, steel, and paper industries” (116). Britain soon became the first industrialized nation in the world. There were three main factors that caused changes in food production.
The first of the three factors would be England’s switch from being “farm-based to factory-based”. The English realized that they needed more food than they could grow on their own soil. So, they began to rely more and more on manufactured goods, that they could trade with other countries for food. In the south of the country, crops were grown on a massive scale. But, in the north of the country, where soil was hard and clay-like, livestock were raised, and factories were built.
As England became more industrial, there was a major switch from burning wood for fuel, to burning coal for fuel. Firewood was becoming too expensive to use on a large scale (for factories, and plants). Also, coal is much more efficient than wood. Although, people still used wood to burn fires in their homes. They switch was huge. By 1800, the consumption of coal was at about ten million tons per year.
The final shift to industrialization was when Britain began to rely more heavily on imported food than ever before. Food was being traded for goods that had been manufactured in the north of England was being traded for foodstuffs from all over the world. Sugar and potatoes were being imported from America more than ever before. Laws that once had prohibited any food to be imported from Ireland were abolished. And by the early 1840’s, imports were supplying almost a sixth of the foodstuffs that were entering into England.