Last modified on 15 October 2009, at 21:12

Introduction to Paleoanthropology/Evolution/Food Production

FROM HUNTER-GATHERERS TO FOOD PRODUCERSEdit

Food ProductionEdit

The ways in which humans procure resources are not unlimited. Essentially, there are five major procurement patterns practiced in the world today:

  • Food collection
    • hunting and gathering
  • Food production
    • extensive agriculture
    • intensive agriculture
    • pastoralism
    • industrialism

Food Collection: Hunting and GatheringEdit

People who practice a hunting and gathering subsistence strategy simply rely on whatever food is available in their local habitat, for the most part collecting various plant foods, hunting wild game, and fishing (where the environment permits).

They collect but they do not produce any food. For example, crops are not cultivated and animals are not kept for meat or milk. Hunters and gathers do and did modify the landscape to increase the amount of available food. One of the main ways hunters and gatherers modified their environment was through the use of burning. Today, only about 30,000 people make their living in this fashion.

Cultures of agriculturalists, having larger ecological footprints have pushed most hunters and gatherers out of the areas where plant food and game is abundant into the more marginal of the earth: the Arctic, arid deserts, and dense tropical rain forests.

Food Production: TerminologyEdit

FOOD PRODUCTION: General term which covers types of domestication involving both plants and animals, each of which requires radically different practices.

CULTIVATION: Term refers to all types of plant culture, from slash-and-burn to growing crop trees. Terminological distinctions within the term cultivation are based on types on gardens maintained and means with which they are cultivated. Example: distinction between horticulture and agriculture

Horticulture: Refers to smaller-scale, garden-based cultivation, usually of a mixed variety of plant species, often with relatively simple tools.
Agriculture: This practice requires tools of greater complexity or higher energy in their manufacture and use, such as animal traction, etc.
Slash-and-burn: Strategy, normally horticultural, in which forest or bush land is cleared by chopping and burning the less useful wood species, planting in the ashes, harvesting for several years and then moving on to a new plot of land.
"Non-domestication" vs. "pre-domestication" cultivation: Cultivation of crops in some cases does not induce domestication. Example of such methods common among hunter-gatherers: beating the plants or reaping them when they are ripe. Therefore called "non-domestication cultivation." Other methods can induce the domestication of wild-type crops: uprooting or reaping grasses not ripe or nearly ripe using sickles. Therefore called "pre-domestication cultivation"

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY: Term refers to all types of animal rearing practices, ranging from chicken to cattle.

Pastoralism: Term normally used to refer to subsistence-oriented livestock production in which some animals or animal products are sold or bartered for food or other commodities, but family reproduction relies largely on the herds. Animals featured in this way of life vary according to regions and include cattle, sheep, goats, camels, horses.

Centers of early domesticationEdit

Southwest AsiaEdit

  • Mobile Hunter-Gatherers
  • Sedentary hunter-gatherers
  • Sedentary farming communities

Credited with domesticating: Dog, pig, goat, sheep, wheat, barley, oat, peas, lentils, apples.

ChinaEdit

  • Mobile Hunter-Gatherers
  • Sedentary hunter-gatherers
  • Sedentary farming communities

Credited with domesticating: Rice

AfricaEdit

Credited with domesticating: Sorghum, cattle

MesoamericaEdit

  • Mobile hunter-gatherers
  • Small mobile farming communities
  • Sedentary farming communities

Credited with domesticating: Maize (corn), squash, pumpkin, sunflower, turkey