The theme this week is commerce, which worked great for me, as it was the last outdoor market for us here in Okotoks, AB, Canada. It was coupled today with the arts festival and our annual Chili Cook Off competition. The weather was beautiful and there was a great atmosphere.
This subject got me thinking about commerce and the history associated with it. Commerce is another word for trade and trading of one sort or another has been used by the human race for the past 150,000 years. Bartering for goods, long before money was invented, ruled the markets. This sort of gathering brought more people together than anything else.
Long-distance trade routes first appeared in the 3rd millennium BC. This sort of trading brought valuable spices, amongst other items, to Europe from the Far East. One of the famous routes is the Silk Road, which was in use from the end of the 4th century AD to the 8th century AD.
During the Dark Ages, long-distance trade almost died out. Vasco da Gama restarted the spice trade in 1498. The spice trade was of major economic importance and helped get the human race into the Age of Exploration. Spices were considered some of the most valuable commodities, even rivalling gold. It is hard to imagine that now; you only need to look into the average pantry and find a plethora of spices like pepper, cloves, saffron, cinnamon etc etc., all of which are easily bought at your local supermarket.
So, with that in mind, I encourage everyone to at least visit a local market once during the summer season and enjoy all it has to offer, and think back to the times when no money, but only goods, were exchanged between traders.