What was the reason or reasons that people abandoned a foraging way of life and started producing their food?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a question that is really hard to answer because we have no records from that time period -- no one said "here is why we are going to start farming."  I will give you Jared Diamond's (in Guns, Germs, and Steel) list of arguments as to why this happened:

  1. Wild food became less and less available.  Large wild animals started to die out and so hunter-gatherers could not get as much in the way of animals.
  2. More domesticated plants came to be available.
  3. People discovered technologies that allowed them to collect, process, and store wild plants.
  4. As they did more of this, their population grew.  As their population grew, they needed to farm more to allow more people to survive -- sort of a spiral effect.

These are Diamond's four arguments for why people started to farm.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One simple and logical reason is that it was much easier and a much more secure source of food. Foraging relies on conditions over which a person has no control, and you are in competition for that food with every other human, and every other living thing that can feed on it.  So that's a pretty unreliable source for something you need to live.

A second logical reason was that since it was easier, once the technology to cultivate crops or husband domesticated animals was acquired in humans, the move to those food sources was a foregone conclusion.  The path of least resistance, as it were.