Cast out of Eden — How agriculture may have doomed us
Introducing a new Opinion series on the effect agricultural developments have on society. No matter what religion you follow, you are probably familiar with the story of Adam and Eve. A man and woman lived in lush, all-inclusive paradise until a talking serpent persuaded them to disobey their creator by eating the forbidden fruit.
Betrayed by his creations, God casts them out of this paradise forever, and consequently, the human race inherits the curse of original sin and is doomed to suffer for eternity. Depressing, no?
A similar story can be found in the history of our species, but our fall had nothing to do with any fruit. Rather, it was a consequence of our ancestors’ shift from hunting and gathering to an agricultural lifestyle.
The majority opinion is agriculture allowed us to create civilization and master our destiny as a species. We live longer, we can survive anywhere and there are more of us: surely agriculture was a boon for our species, right?
According to Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet,” we may be correct to assume we live longer than the average hunter-gatherer and lead much safer lives than our ancestors, but to assume we are healthier now is pure foolishness. Hunter-gatherers had to work for their food, they couldn’t drive down to the corner store and buy a bag of Cheetos. So not only were they in far better physical condition just from going out and quite literally chasing down their meals, they were eating far healthier food.
Their prey was wild, free from hormones and unnatural diets. The meat was far superior in quality. The average hunter-gatherer was anything but wasteful — they wouldn’t even let their prey’s nutritious
organs go to waste.
Wolf said vegetables and fruits were eaten in abundance and they were all purely organic. On top of all that, they didn’t eat grains — an important detail because for the majority of our species’ history we ate a diet based primarily on fat and protein; our bodies are not designed to process large amounts of carbohydrates.
Put it all together, and you have a superior diet and exercise program few modern men and women could hope to match.
To address the myth that we could survive anywhere: would you really argue you could survive for long without coffee and an Internet connection? Modern man changes his environment to suit his needs; prehistoric man had to truly adapt to survive.
While the growth in population could be considered a benefit of the agricultural revolution, closer examination shows this to be a misconception. Growth in population creates the constant need for resources, and that inevitably leads to war. Our natural resources are running out. When you factor in the looming threat of global warming and the danger it poses to our food and water systems, agriculture may just be what leads to our extinction as a species.
While agriculture may be the doom of our species, there is no going back to Eden now. The intent of this series is not to demean the role of agriculture, but instead to explore the damage it can cause and offer solutions that are practical for any modern human.
Andrew Deskins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org