When sprinkling red pepper on a pizza or indulging in a cinnamon roll, most people probably don’t give a second thought to the spices on their food and where they originated. Often taken for granted in modern times, spices were extremely difficult to obtain at one time, and the measures taken to secure them played a profound role in shaping human history. Some spices were once more valuable than gold and gems. Pepper was even used to pay Roman soldiers or rent in ancient times. Although spices are extremely affordable and accessible today, the undertakings that made this possible shaped economies and cultures, even leading to the discovery of new continents.
In Ancient times, Arabian spice merchants would tell stories of the mythical origins of the cinnamon and cassia they sold to maintain an aura of mystery surrounding the origins of their products and keep their foothold on the market. They dominated the market for 5000 years until the Middle Ages. In modern times, however, the spice trade looks different. One family whose story began in India and has crossed the globe, are extremely transparent about the origins of their products, making it a point for them to be traced back to the source.
What began as a small spice shop opened by Sunil Kumar and his family in 1980 in the Village of Lisora in Uttar Pradesh, India has since become a transnational company and the largest supplier of wholesale and bulk organic spices in North America. Just like the explorers and spice merchants of the times gone by, the Kumars help distribute spices across land and water, always maintaining their mission to provide organic and sustainable products. They have relationships with over 10,000 organic farmers and growers, and their legacy spans over 40 years.
How the Spice Trade Shaped History
Spices were the first globally traded product. Archaeologists believe humans have been using spices to season their food since 50,000 B.C. Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, turmeric and cassia were some of the first to be traded across different lands. Records show cinnamon and cassia arrived to the Middle East more than 4000 years ago. Ancient Arab traders would tell stories of cassia growing in shallow lakes and guarded by winged animals.
Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka) and the Spice Islands (modern-day Indonesian Moluccas) served as important trading points at one time. Later on, Alexandria, Egypt became the world’s largest center of trade when it fell under Roman rule. Indian spices traded in Alexandria reached other territories of the Greek and Roman empires. For 300 years after Ptolemy XI gave Alexandria to the Romans in 80 BCE, trade between India and the Romans flourished.
In the 10th century, the trade rivalry between Venice and Genoa led to the Naval War of Chioggia in 1378. Venice emerged as the victor, which allowed them to dominate trade in the Levant for the next 100 years.
Age of Exploration
As shipbuilding technology evolved, the British, Spanish, and Portuguese sailed in search of the fabled spice lands, with the goal of finding alternative trade routes and eliminating the middleman. Christopher Columbus, sailing for King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain, famously failed to reach the Spice Islands but discovered the Americas instead. Portuguese explorers successfully found a route to Asia and reached India in 1498. For the next century, they dominated the market.
Fleets from Holland set sail for the Spice Islands in the late 1500s, which led to the establishment of the Dutch East India company in 1602. Other European countries soon followed and established their own East India Companies. Although Portugal dominated the spice trade at one point, it was surpassed by the British and Dutch. The pursuit of spices fueled globalization, technology, and established empires. There was a dark side to their success, however. During this period, European countries established their colonial presence in Asia and other parts of the world at the expense of indigenous peoples, leaving a legacy marked by violence and oppression.
Evolution of Tastes in the Western World
Some may wonder why spices were in such high demand in Europe. Modern European cuisine is not known for incorporating many different spices. Other cuisines, such as Chinese or Indian, are known to be more layered and complex, with contrasting flavors, whereas western European dishes combine similar flavors. One example is the use of cinnamon; its sweet aroma is typically used to enhance sweet dishes in the west, whereas in India and the Middle East it is common to use in savory dishes. Western food is known for being less seasoned than other cuisines. However, this was not always the case.
At one time, Europeans incorporated more spices in their dishes. A beef pie recipe from 15th-century Germany, for example, includes meat, butter, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cloves.
A 16th-century English recipe for custard- a savory quiche with meat, includes veal, red wine, parsley, sage, hyssop, savory, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, mace, saffron, salt, dates, prunes, and ginger.
So what changed? How did European access to spices change their palate? While affording spices was a status symbol at one time, as spices became increasingly common, it became more elegant to do the opposite of what the masses were doing. So instead of masking food in spices, it became popular for the upper classes to bring out the natural flavors of foods by using minimal seasonings. This is why European food tends to uses fewer spices, preferring herbs, salt, and pepper instead to enhance the natural flavors. However, in the last few decades, the popularity of spices have made a revival as a result of globalization and immigration. One prime example is chicken tikka masala, which is considered to be the national dish of England and a symbol of its multiculturalism.
The Kumar Family’s 40-year legacy
As the largest wholesale and bulk distributor of organic spices and herbs in North America, the Kumar family delivers the tastes of India to North America. They allow Indians abroad to enjoy the tastes of home and non-Indians alike to discover the flavors of India without compromising on quality or price. They help people across the globe continue their family culinary traditions by bringing organic, high-quality spices, making them affordable and accessible.
Since 1980, Sunil Kumar and his family continue their spice trade across land and sea and show us what the modern-day spice trade looks like. So although we may take the accessibility of spices brought to us by companies like Spicy Organic for granted, they helped shape much of history, making huge impacts on economies, cultures, and history. Wars were fought, empires gained and lost power, technology improved, and society became more interconnected.
What to Consider Before Buying a Compact Tractor for Your Country Property
While some people dream of buying a home in a city or suburb, others dream of purchasing a home on a rural lot with acreage, a drilled well, and fruit trees.
Rural living isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there are some advantages to packing up and moving to the country. The air is cleaner, wildlife is abundant, and the population density is low. But leaving the conveniences of the cities or suburbs for a rural homestead means you’ll have a lot more on your daily to-do list than you ever thought possible.
One piece of equipment you’ll want is a tractor. A compact or sub-compact tractor will meet the needs of most landowners. Whether for mowing the lawn, tilling the garden, moving logs, or doing other things, a tractor can be a godsend when you relocate to the country.
Consider your use cases for a tractor to get the right one. While budgeting is vital, opt for quality over saving a few bucks. The right equipment will serve you and yours well for many years. Remember to buy from a tractor dealer selling top brands to get the product and service you need.
When looking for the right tractor for your homestead, here are some things to consider.
Horsepower is one of the things to consider before buying a tractor. When you visit a tractor dealership, tell the salesperson your use cases for a tractor. They’ll be able to recommend the horsepower range you need for a suitable compact or sub-compact tractor. Horsepower can go from the 20s to the 50s for a compact tractor or in the mid-20s for a sub-compact tractor. It doesn’t hurt to get more horsepower than you need now to meet potential future needs.
You’ll also want to look at power take-off (PTO) horsepower. PTO horsepower describes the amount of power available to operate the tractor’s implements and attachments, while the engine horsepower describes the power the engine produces. You’ll want enough PTO horsepower to operate a tiller, snowblower, log splitter, or other attachments and implements.
Consider Implements and Attachments
While tractors are helpful, attachments and implements can make them more useful. Box blades, loaders, pellet forks, backhoes, plows, snowblowers, and rototillers are worth considering.
Without the correct implements and attachments, country living can be a chore. Before buying a tractor, ensure it can operate the attachments and implements.
Consider the Size of the Property and Terrain
Consider the size of your property and the landscape conditions before buying a tractor. For instance, if you need to mow 10 acres, get a tractor with enough horsepower to keep up with your mowing needs. Getting the right compact or sub-compact tractor will allow you to use the implements and attachments required on your land.
Consider the Tires
Another consideration is the type of tires you put on your tractor. You’ll want appropriate tires whether you have a hilly, rocky, or flat terrain. The salespeople at whatever tractor dealership you patronize will be able to get you the right tires for your land. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow in the winter, you might want to invest in multiple sets of tires.
Living in the country is an adventure unto itself. But chances are you won’t look back after taking the leap and leaving the city or the suburb behind. You shouldn’t, however, overlook the importance of getting the right equipment for your homestead. You won’t regret getting a tractor. But you should know what to look for in a tractor to get the right one for your rural property.
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