Why hunt? Why gather? Join the Neolithic revolution! Somewhere around 9500 BC proto-farmers began to select and cultivate food plants with desired characteristics. While in their own days they were 'revolutionary technologists' who radically changed their relation with the environment, today we would describe these people as 'organic farmers'.
The impact of the neolithic revolution can hardly be underestimated. Agriculture amplifies specialization, enables increased division of labor, establishes the material foundations of social hierarchy, and initiates environmental destruction. Priests, kings, labor, warfare are a few of its fairly immediate consequences. Nextnature avant la lettre folks!
However, with every next nature that emerges, an older nature dries out. What was lost with the rise of agriculture we can only begin to imagine. Some have suggested the end of hunter-gatherer life brought a decline in size, stature, skeletal robustness and introduced tooth decay, nutritional deficiencies, and most infectious diseases.
Not that we should romanticize the hunter-gather life, which must at times have been cruel in its very own way. In fact, it was a completely different life altogether. In the mind of a hunter-gatherer we – contemporary humans – would probably be considered ‘post-human’ already. Think about it next time you are gathering food in your local supermarket.
Comic by David Steinlicht (download PDF), via Sustainability reloaded. See also: Napkin sketch.