I'm sitting at Ink Casualty's place blogging, drinking tea, today and celebrating my 1,000th post. I am sending a parcel to the best comment left here over the next couple of days (till Wednesday evening...I'm on the road...) SAY ANYTHING, a story? a question? a poem? a rant? I've had an unusual amount of visitors in the last few months...but almost no comments...who is out there? ...the parcel will have all kinds of goodies. A couple of books, some art work, cool wrist bands, and other fun bits and bobs. Thanks for visiting this blog and always inspiring me and giving me many things to think about and enjoy...you've all become part of my family here in blogland!
There are at least three sets of reasons to explain the findings that agriculture was bad for health. First, hunter-gatherers enjoyed a varied diet, while early farmers obtained most of their food from one or a few starchy crops. The farmers gained cheap calories at the cost of poor nutrition. (Today just three high-carbohydrate plants - wheat, rice, and corn - provide the bulk of the calories consumed by the human species, yet each one is deficient in certain vitamins or amino acids essential to life.) Second, because of dependence on a limited number of crops, farmers ran the risk of starvation if one crop failed. Finally, the mere fact that agriculture encouraged people to clump together in crowded societies, many of which then carried on trade with other crowded societies, led to the spread of parasites and infectious disease. (Some archaeologists think it was the crowding, rather than agriculture, that promoted disease, but this is a chicken-and-egg argument, because crowding encourages agriculture and vice versa.) Epidemics couldn’t take hold when populations were scattered in small bands that constantly shifted camp. Tuberculosis and diarrheal disease had to await the rise of farming, measles and bubonic plague the appearance of large cities.
Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions. Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others. Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing elite set itself above the disease-ridden masses. From Jared Diamond