Rumor Flies

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Rumor Flies comically addresses the origins, evolution, and veracity of your favorite rumors, myths, and misconceptions. Tune in for more research, stories, and unsolicited commentary! Participation encouraged.

Snap Judgment #15: Columbus is a Citrus-Planting Piece of $%*&

#402: Christopher Columbus brought the first lemon seeds to America.

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Verdict: True

Greg here, and as is the case with anything Columbus related, that particular context is important. Anyone who has listened to even a few episodes of this show will quickly recognize that my complete and utter distaste at anything Christopher Columbus-related is hard to truly capture. That's partially why I chose this subject: it forces me to just do some research and sit back without too much editorializing. But this topic also gives me a fun launchpad to discuss some side stuff, which we will get in to momentarily. So now: Citrus stuff!

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A cursory google search will quickly reveal to anyone that this is widely accepted and parroted. While all the specifics are a little debated, it seems to be consensus that Columbus brought lemon seeds - along with several other citrus seeds - to the "New World." Ironically, his crew also suffered a horrible bout of scurvy on their long expedition.

I made it a point to find a more "academic" or accredited source to back it up, and indeed there doesn't seem to be any major contradictions to the claim. I found a few books that point to sources saying he planted them in Haiti for sure, then in the Americas, where they flourished. He also brought death and ruination in the form of poor governorship and horrible diseases (I had to get at least one dig in). 

It's important to note that this trend of bringing and unleashing animals, plants, and even diseases, is something we see over and over again in colonization discussions (and even beyond). The Spanish introduced horses in the 16th century, which fundamentally altered the lives of Native American communities in the plains regions of North America, who famously learned to integrate horses into their communities. Over the next centuries, horses became as culturally ingrained in the mythos of the "American West" as tumbleweeds and six-shooters. A quick digression, but something worth mentioning (in my opinion). 

Ok. Two digs.    Source:  XKCD  under Creative Commons. 

Ok. Two digs. 

Source: XKCD under Creative Commons. 

So now for something completely different and probably a solid 30% of the motivation for my post/topic choice. Did you know there's an indie record called Columbus? Did you know it was a musical? Did you know it was produced by Andrew Dost (Anthallo, Fun.) and features such indie darlings as Nate Ruess (Steel Train, Fun.), Michael Nau (Page France), Joel Thiele (Anathallo), and more? It is an absurd and plucky record that takes ridiculous liberties (knowingly). It is so silly and funny and even catchy (and yes, at times a bit cringe-y, but that's always a risk with something like this). They even pressed a bright magenta vinyl record. I don't know if Columbus will ever rock broadway...but hey, stranger things have happened. 

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