Likely Myth: Food Was Scarce for Our Ancestors Before Agriculture

May 15, 2024 by Joshua
in Evolutionary Psychology, Fitness, Nature

Everyone talks about our ancestors like they struggled for food. Many people believe we store fat well because our ancestors didn’t know when they’d next eat. Maybe they look at surviving hunting and gathering cultures and see less food than in their local supermarket.

Look at nature, though. Animals and plants aren’t starving all the time. On the contrary, places that aren’t frozen, desert, or that we’ve paved over abound with life. Why would we think our ancestors would struggle when animals today don’t? Animals don’t reach old age more because predators eat them, but we’re apex predators.

Wouldn’t it make more evolutionary sense for our ancestors to evolve where food was abundant than scarce? Our ancestors found so much food that they expanded to inhabit six continents. We see people in the Kalahari Desert and other sparsely vegetated places today only because agricultural cultures drove every other culture that lived off what the land and sea provided and paved the most fertile parts (such as where you live, likely).

I’m beginning to conclude that our ancestors before agriculture likely didn’t struggle for food. We tell ourselves they did.

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