Question 4 - Reading and Writing Practice Test for the PSAT/NMSQT Exam

What is most likely the purpose of the provided passage?

An excerpt from “The Discovery of the New World and the End of the Old” lecture by Lynn Nelson

We have said that most of the population of medieval Europe went to bed hungry and that their diet was unbalanced and boring at best. The new plants that were introduced from the New World changed that situation. A medieval peasant could expect to harvest about 600 pounds of wheat from an acre of land. It took a long time for the Europeans to get used to these new plants, but when that same acre of land was planted in potatoes—native to South America—the peasant could plan on harvesting 50,000 pounds of food. It was even harder for the Europeans to get adjusted to corn—eating it made many of them sick, and they weren’t accustomed to planting row crops in their fields—but they could harvest 1800 pounds of corn on the acre that had given them only 600 pounds of wheat. Some Europeans, such as the Italians, eventually became used to corn, but it was used primarily as food for chicken, geese and other fowl, and for pigs. If the introduction of potatoes produced a caloric revolution, the acceptance of corn brought about a protein revolution. Since the land of Europe could now produce more food, the relative price of food began to drop. The productive capacity of the land had caught up with the population, and the average European could now eat more. The Europeans, in turn, introduced corn into Africa and sweet potatoes in China, where these new foods also changed conditions dramatically.

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