The Rise and Rise of Agriculture



For many, the move away from hunter-gatherer lifestyles and towards sedentary agriculturalism heralded humanity’s fall from the Garden of Eden: where once people had lived in balance with nature, the ascent of farming changed the relationship whereby humans now sought to take from it without return.

In the last chapter we saw that, to some extent, agriculture did break the ‘Virtuous Cycle of Return’ instigating the soil depletion and erosion that is becoming particularly prevalent today. However, as Stanley Ulijaszek highlights in his podcast (available below) the situation is a little more complex, after all many of the extinctions of megafauna (e.g. mammoths) can be attributed to the actions of hunter-gatherers and we should be wary of idealising their lifestyles.

Hunter-gatherer diet podcast.mp3

As we saw in Chapter 2, the development of agriculture – which saw the emergence of domesticate plants and animals (the first Genetically Modified organisms) certainly helped to support population increase, and many would argue that farming (and in particular GM crops) holds the key to supporting the population as it grows.