Re: Hunter/Gatherer vs Gatherer/Hunter was speciation

C. Marc Wagner @ UCS (@)
Tue, 15 Oct 1996 15:53:09 -0500

Peni R. Griffin's discussion makes some interesting points but it also
misses some other points. There is evidence that Hominids have been
carnivores (okay, omnivores) for 2 million years.

I agree with the author that gathering of uniform supplies of fruits and
vegetables is probably more consistent from day-to-day (and GENERALLY
from season to season) but, the amount of energy consumed by a group of
hunters to take down one wildebeast (for instance) compared
pound-for-pound with the amount of effort required to collect the same
amount (in calories) of fruits and vegetables probably tells a different

Undoubtedly, our ability to store fat makes the once-a-month wildebeast
practical when compared to a consistent supply of fruits & vegetables --
at least during the growing season. But, during the Winter (in Northern
Latitudes, anyway) the large herbivore makes a nice meal for quite a
long time (and keeps well in the cold to boot!)

As for vegetarian only diets, there are 20 basic amino acids which
Humans need to thrive. Of them, 16 are easily obtained from fruits &
vegetables. The remaing four are not. Unless a wide variety of
vegetables are readily available, all of the time, the occasional big
game is the only way to fill in the gap.

The problem isn't eating meat -- it is eating TOO MUCH MEAT. This has
been a characteristic of the wealthy for the last 1000 years. (Ever see
a picture of Henry VIII?)

Today, the situation is different. While most of the rest of the World
gets their meat protein (and those all important fats) from dairy
products, milk & cheese, Americans get the vast majority of these
proteins from eating the meat itself. While it is arguable whether or
not feeding high quality grains to cattle is a good utilization of
resources, the problem is that Americans simply eat too much meat and
consume far to much fat for their own good. Unfortunately, the starving
masses in the Third World will continue to starve -- not because of
American greed but because of insuffcient distribution infrastructure.
Worldwide, food goes to waste becuase there is simply no way to get it
to those in need -- either for political reasons or becuase of lack of

Mike/Damon or Peni R. Griffin wrote:
> This is going to sound trivial, but I think it's relevant to the
> question of hunting and gathering. Hunting of large animals is
> usually a more prestigious, but less useful, function in a
> non-agricultural society, than the gathering of plant and small animal
> foods. In agricultural societies, the richer you are, the more meat
> you eat. Here in America, meat is of such high preference value that
> we'll dump millions of pouds of grain down the lowing maws of animals
> when we could be more efficiently and cheaply feeding people with it;
> meat is considered the most important portion of most meals (the
> entree), and we'll plunk down anywhere from a dollar to five dollars a
> pound for red meat we know will clog our arteries and which must be
> liberally seasoned in order to be palatable, without blinking, while
> we refuse to buy nutritious, naturally delicious fruit that tops two
> dollars a pound. Why do we behave this way?
> Fat.
> I recently went on a lo-fat diet, and until I got the knack I was
> starving all the time. Our systems crave fat. We have to eat stacks
> and stacks of carbohydrates in order to feel anything like as full as
> we can get from a little judicously administered fat. We like meat
> because it's the easiest, most abundant source of fat there is. I
> suspect this dates from our hunter-gatherer days, when we were
> constantly moving all over the landscape and couldn't store anything
> we couldn't carry -- and, as many a picnicker has realized, it's
> easier to carry food in our stomachs than in our hands. Fatty foods
> lasted us longer after it got inside, and therefore we developed
> enthusiasm for them. This sounds simple and obvious, but I have never
> seen it written down anywhere. People talk instead about the craving
> for protein, which is silly. You can get protein from judiciously
> combined vegetable foods, much more safely than from a dangerous and
> possibly parasite-ridden prey animal, and you don't need all that much
> of it to get by on.
> Oh, what's the secret to not being hungry on a lo-fat diet?
> Carbohydrates and lots of them. Those low-fat fruit bars are good.
> So are those new low-fat candybars, but don't overindulge those.
> "Lo-fat" for a candy bar may still be pretty high in absolute terms.
> And for those salty-snack cravings, fat-free crackers and pretzels.
> Preferably Snyders. The so-called lo-fat potato chips aren't
> particularly low in fat, and they don't taste remotely like potato
> chips. Take larger helpings of rice and potatoes and green vegetables
> at dinner, and smaller helpings of meat, and use sour cream instead of
> butter or margarine.
> Does it seem weird to anybody else that we live in a society in which
> getting too much food is considered a problem?
> This is Peni.
> Kid books are better than grownup books.
> Check out

C. MARC WAGNER -- UNIX Systems Specialist @ UCS
INDIANA UNIVERSITY -- Bloomington, Indiana, USA