In 1984, Bob Geldof and his pals told us to feed the world. Although in 2016 there’s still a long way to go, without agriculture that would be an impossible dream. Here we explain the advantages of agriculture and what would happen in its absence.
In short, without agriculture, humankind would starve. Despite Bob’s efforts, much of the world is still starving. Most humans no longer know how to forage their own food, so agriculture is essential for the sustainability of the human race.
Although not as applicable now, previously the animals would be a source of heat in the winter, as well as food and the skins could be used for clothing. Nowadays man-made materials are the norm so leather, wool etc. are not essential.
Thousands of years ago most Neanderthals knew how to catch and grow food. Agriculture has allowed us to evolve and for individuals within a group to specialise at tasks, maximising our strengths instead of everyone having to forage. We all have different skills, but hairdressers and doctors and Post Office clerks still need food. A sumo wrestler wouldn’t know where to catch the best tuna. Farmers have the huge responsibility of feeding those who don’t have the right skills. It takes knowledge and expertise to breed cattle, process corn, know where the right fish are during which time of year. Those working the world of agriculture know how to maximise their resources.
Through agriculture, we have adapted plants to produce more food than is possible in the wild, because the varieties we have created couldn’t survive without human intervention.
And even if droughts or floods occur, we can anticipate them by breeding crops to be hardier and even create a food surplus. When the Zombie Apocalypse comes, we’ll be fine with our grain and tinned peaches! (Sort of).
Although Neanderthals had the skills to hunt and gather edible plans, they created enough food to sustain but not thrive. For millions of years the global population changed very little. But with the advent of agriculture, people suddenly had free time – instead of chasing boars, they could spend some special time with an attractive tribesman… thus fulfilling humankind’s most basic instinct – to reproduce.