Fall Faculty Series - Our Daily Bread

August 22, 2019 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm | Mount Mercy University - 204 Basile Hall

Fall Faculty Series 2019Our Daily Bread: How the Agricultural Revolution Transformed Human Diet, Culture, and Society 

Dr. Anna Waterman | Associate Professor of Biology

In this talk, Dr. Anna Waterman explores history of the Agricultural Revolution and its consequences for humans in the ancient and modern world. For over 99% of history, humans lived as hunter-gatherers in small family-based, highly-mobile tribes. The Agricultural (Neolithic) Revolution, in which people started producing their own food, began 10,000 years ago in the Mideast and has radically transformed human diet, culture and society. In particular, food production has allowed humans to become sedentary, increase in population size, and generate socially-complex communities with craft specialists and political hierarchies. It is, in sum, the basis for what we now consider civilization.

However, this revolution also has a dark side, as increasing human populations lead to environmental destruction and violent conflict over agricultural lands and resources. It is also the origin of social inequality and has created huge differences in status and wealth as control of stored food was the basis of prehistoric economic systems and a necessary precursor to the origin of the state. Reliance on agricultural products also reduced human dietary breadth leading to nutritional deficiencies in both the ancient and modern world.

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