Ancient Chinese Food

Essay by geekA+, May 2004

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Food in China has been the basis of life for centuries. Millet, a common crop in Northern China, has been grown since the fifth millennium BC. Rice, a common crop in Southern China, has been grown since the fourth millennium BC. Ever since then food was thought to be the basis for good health. The first Chinese crop was grown in the Upper Yellow River Valley.

In order to keep up their crops, the ancient Chinese used wood and stone tools. In the fifth century BC, iron plows were developed. On the Northern grasslands, oxen pulled plows. But in the marshy South, water bison pulled the plows.

Regardless of these beasts of burden, men did most of the agricultural work. They would cut wheat with sickles, carried crops by a pole hung across their shoulders with bags at the end to hold the grain, and they would loosen wheat by beating it with sticks.

But the most complex tool was their irrigation system.

In Southern China, rice was, and is, the staple grain. Rice grows much easier in a marshy area, but is much easier to harvest without any water. How did they do this, irrigation. Foot powered pumps was the ancient Chinese's answer. Many people would power these pumps.

The Chinese wanted to ensure a good harvest. They accomplished this by many ways. Ashes and manure (dung) were used to fertilize the crops. Another way Chinese ensured a good crop was by crop rotation. They would not grow the same crop in the same spot consecutively.

Rice wasn't the only crop. The Chinese grew hundreds of various crops. Some of them include cabbage, soybeans (and other beans), peas, and bamboo shoots.

In Northern China wheat and millet were grown. Rice was expensive, due to the fact...