chapter
9 Pages

The Hunter-Gatherers

ByIvan Crowe

Living in a global economy based on agriculture, we tend to forget that wild plant foods previously played a pivotal role in the evolution of the primates, including humans. Wild resources also continue to sustain some of the few surviving hunter-gatherer societies. Over the past millions of years, since the appearance of the first humans, hunter-gatherers have occupied a vast array of different climatic zones and habitats, learning to survive by utilizing a staggering variety of flora and fauna. The means by which they exploited natural resources influenced the forms of agriculture and animal husbandry that have emerged in different locations throughout the world. This chapter surveys the role plant foods have played in human evolution and culture from the appearance of the first primates to the beginnings of cultivation.