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Death by Eating: The evolution of human food

by mcfarland 

Posted: 26 July 2010
Word Count: 299

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Our bodies have not changed much over the past fifty thousand years, but the food that we put into them has changed a lot. Our bodies are basically adapted to a hunter-gatherer diet, but ten thousand years ago our behaviour started to change, and our behaviour changed our food. The pace of change has accelerated recently. Our food has changed partly as a result of changes in the environment that are the result of our own behaviour. We have progressively burnt down forests, to clear land for agriculture. In some places we have caused erosion and desertification of the landscape. In other places we have flooded the landscape, and in some we have covered it with concrete.
So far we humans have managed to adapt to these changes. There have been some genetic changes, and there have been many social changes. But we now find ourselves in an evolutionary cul-de-sac. This book tells the story of how we got here.

Readers of this book will take a journey through time. In the first Chapter they will experience their first death by eating. In the next Chapter they will be another ‘historical’ person, and in subsequent Chapters they will inhabit a succession of bodies. Altogether they will have nine lives, and each life will end in some kind of death by eating. Today, some fifty percent of humans are urban dwellers, who have lost direct control of their food supply. Urban dwellers cannot grow food in sufficient quantities to feed themselves. They rely on food manufacturers and distributors who are out to make money. Our bodies have not changed, but control of what we put into our bodies has passed out of our hands. Today, the causes of death by eating are very different from what they used to be.

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