Nutmeg is a spice made from the seeds of a tropical evergreen tree, Myristica. Today, nutmeg is grown and produced in tropical locations from Indonesia to the West Indies. In the 1600s, however, the nutmeg tree only grew in Indonesia’s Banda Islands. 
 
Plot the route of 17th-century merchants with our geo-tour of the nutmeg trade, then watch our video, from the National Geographic Channel’s series “Eat: The Story of Food.” Learn how Dutch traders ruthlessly controlled the nutmeg trade—and helped shape the American cultural landscape in the process.
 
Note: Be sure to click the “i” on every bookmark for important informational text in the geo-tour!
  1. Read through our “geo-tour” of the nutmeg trade. Based on the climate conditions necessary for the cultivation of the nutmeg tree, what countries do you think are the top nutmeg, mace, and cardamom producers in the world? (Some of them are listed in the geo-tour!)

    • Answer

      According to a UN agency, the top nutmeg, mace, and cardamom producers in the world are: Guatemala, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Laos, Grenada, Tanzania, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka.

  2. Read through our “geo-tour” of the historic nutmeg trade. What elements of modern society did the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC) introduce?

    • Answer

      The development of modern capitalist societies, stock markets, and multinational corporations are all economic concepts introduced by the VOC more than 300 years ago. The brutal way in which the VOC colonized the Banda Islands contributed to the ways in which European empires governed colonies in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

cultural landscape
Noun

human imprint on the physical environment.

evergreen
Noun

tree that does not lose its leaves.

merchant
Noun

person who sells goods and services.

route
Noun

path or way.

ruthless
Adjective

cruel.

seed
Noun

part of a plant from which a new plant grows.

spice
Noun

tasty and aromatic plant substances used in cooking.

trade
Noun

buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.

tropical
Adjective

existing in the tropics, the latitudes between the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the Tropic of Capricorn in the south.