Agriculture: The Worst Mistake Humans Ever Made


Prior to agriculture, humans lived happier, healthier, freer and easier lives, claims one of the world’s top scientists and thinkers.

In an article published in Discover Magazine nearly 30 years ago, Pulitzer Prize winning anthropologist and evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond calls agriculture “a catastrophe from which we have never recovered.”

Diamond claims the domestication of plants and animals – which began around 10 to 15 thousand years ago – led to the eventual domestication of humans and is ultimately responsible for the “the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism that curse our existence.”

For approximately 2 million years prior to the advent of agriculture, gatherer-hunters enjoyed excellent health, social and sexual equality, very light workloads, plenty of leisure time and freedom from any form of government.

How agriculture destroyed our health

article-2002684-0C87CA7700000578-362_468x266Pre-agricultural humans were taller, stronger, and healthier than farming peoples, as evidenced by their bones and teeth, which showed virtually no signs of disease.

For example, he says gatherer-hunter skeletons from Greece and Turkey  were half a foot taller than their agricultural descendants’ skeletons from 3000 BC.

Native American skeletons from the Ohio and Illinois river valleys demonstrate major health changes that occurred when the gatherer-hunter population there gave way to agriculture around 1150 AD – “a nearly 50 percent increase in enamel defects indicative of malnutrition, a fourfold increase in iron-deficiency anemia, a threefold rise in bone lesions reflecting infectious disease in general, and an increase in degenerative conditions of the spine, probably reflecting a lot of hard physical labor.”

Life expectancy at birth in that pre-agricultural community was only about twenty-six years, but in the post-agricultural community it was nineteen years, said George Armelagos of the University of Massachusetts. (Some anthropologists argue that gatherer-hunter life-expectancy averages are thrown off by high infant mortality due to infanticide – which was one way of keeping population in balance with the food supply – but that the life-expectancy of those who made it past infancy was at least equal to ours, even without the benefit of modern medicine.)

Agriculture was bad move for human health for three main reasons:

1. Heavy dependence on grains and other starchy crops

The agricultural diet is based primarily on high-carbohydrate, low-nutrient-density crops like grains and potatoes, while the gatherer-hunter diet was comprised of a more varied mix of wild plants and animals, providing a better balance of nutrients.

The agricultural revolution provided “cheap calories at the cost of poor nutrition,” Diamond said.  Today just three starchy plants – wheat, rice, and corn – provide the vast majority of the calories consumed by the human species. All three are deficient in vitamins and amino acids essential to life.

2. Mono-cropping leads to crop failure and mass starvation

Dependent on a much smaller number of crops than gatherer-hunters, farmers ran the risk of starvation if even one crop failed.

“It’s almost inconceivable that Bushmen, who eat 75 or so wild plants, could die of starvation the way hundreds of thousands of Irish farmers and their families did during the potato famine of the 1840s,” Diamond said.

3. Higher population density encouraged epidemic disease

Agriculture encouraged people to clump together in crowded societies, leading to the spread of parasites and infectious disease.

Some archaeologists think it was crowding, rather than agriculture, that promoted disease, but Diamond calls this a “chicken-and-egg argument,” as crowding encourages agriculture and agriculture encourages crowding.

Epidemics couldn’t take hold when populations were scattered in small bands that constantly shifted camp, he said. “Tuberculosis and diarrheal disease had to await the rise of farming, measles and bubonic plague the appearance of large cities.”

How agriculture destroyed egalitarianism


“Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic infectious disease, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions,” Diamond said.

Because hunter-gatherers were nomadic they did not store food. They ate and shared whatever food they obtained each day. With no granaries or silos – or other concentrated food sources, like orchards or herds of sheep – there was nothing to guard, protect or fight over.

“Therefore, there could be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others,” Diamond said. “Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing elite set itself above the disease-ridden masses.”

Greek skeletons from 1500 BC indicate royals enjoyed a better quality diet than their subjects, as the royal skeletons were two or three inches taller and had better teeth – on average, one instead of six cavities or missing teeth.

Chilean mummies from 1000 AD showed “the elite were distinguished not only by ornaments and gold hair clips but also by a fourfold lower rate of bone lesions caused by disease.”

The nutritional inequality of agricultural societies still exists on a global scale today.

“To people in rich countries like the US, it sounds ridiculous to extol the virtues of hunting and gathering,” Diamond said. “But Americans are an elite, dependent on oil and minerals that must often be imported from countries with poorer health and nutrition. If one could choose between being a peasant farmer in Ethiopia or a bushman gatherer in the Kalahari, which do you think would be the better choice?”

Farming encouraged inequality between the sexes, too. Under pressure to produce more farmhands, agricultural women had far more children than hunter-gatherer women, who used natural means of preventing or ending pregnancies (and in desperate cases infanticide) that occurred before their existing children were weaned and could walk long distances on their own. Birthing large numbers of children was inherently damaging to women’s bodies, as evidenced by more bone lesions from infectious disease than their male counterparts.

Additionally, the authors of the book Sex at Dawn explain how with agriculture came the concept of private property, and with that, the idea of women as property. In order to ensure a man was working to provide for his own children, and passing on his property to his own heirs, women’s wombs also became man’s property, locking them into monogamous marriage if they wanted to be able to feed themselves and their children.

“Thus with the advent of agriculture an elite became better off, but most people became worse off,” Diamond said.

How agriculture destroyed our freedom and “free-time”

hadza-dance-tanzania_13187_990x742In addition to better health and equality, hunter-gatherers had/have far less work and far more leisure time than farmers, industrial laborers and even white collar workers on Wall Street.

The Bushmen of South Africa spend an average of only 12 to 19 hours a week obtaining food – which is about all gatherer-hunters need to do other than build an occasional new grass-hut. It takes the Hadza of Tanzania less than 14 hours a week to feed themselves.

And the “work” of gatherer-hunters can hardly be considered work. In fact, most of them don’t have a word for “work” in their languages, and consider their “work” to be play. This is because their “work” is skill intensive, not labor intensive, does not take many hours, and is done with friends, when they feel like doing it, not when they are forced to do it.

When a Bushmen was asked why his tribe did not take up agriculture like neighboring tribes, he replied – “Why should we, when there are so many mongongo nuts in the world?” Wild nuts, berries, fruits and roots can be consumed immediately after they are plucked, with no tilling, planting, fertilizing, weeding, storing, preserving, cooking, etc. – saving countless hours of labor.


An animal killed by one hunter in a few hours, and cooked by a group of them in a few more, could feed the entire tribe – and perhaps a neighboring tribe – for days. When one person or tribe was not so lucky one day, he/they could count on another to feed him/them and vice versa. Without stored food to fight over, gatherer-hunters shared everything for mutual assurance of survival.


“The lives of at least the surviving hunter-gatherers aren’t nasty and brutish, even though farmers have pushed them into some of the world’s worst real estate,” Diamond said. So we can assume, the lives of prehistoric hunter-gatherers – before they had to compete with ever-expanding agriculturalists for land and resources – were not nasty and brutish either.

“Archaeologists studying the rise of farming have reconstructed a crucial stage at which we made the worst mistake in human history,” Diamond said. “Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.”

Many of the gatherer-hunters who did choose to keep their populations in check to avoid the toil of agriculture, have been forced into the lifestyle over the last 10,000 years, because agriculture encourages population growth, which encourages expansion into new territories. So farmers out-bred gatherer-hunters and killed off those who wouldn’t convert, because, as Diamond said, “a hundred malnourished farmers can still outfight one healthy hunter.”

For at least 2 million years, the human species thrived without agriculture. The lifestyle of gather-hunters was so sustainable, it’s conceivable they could’ve gone on living in harmony and balance with all non-human life on the planet until the death of our nearest star, speculates Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael. But our 10,000-year-long experiment with agriculture has set us so far back into poor health, slavery and environmental degradation, it is unclear whether we can ever recover.

RELATED: The Hadza: Freest People on Earth Face Extinction

RELATED: The Jarawa Hunter-Gatherers Say They Don’t Want to Be Part of Our World

RELATED: Civilization is Inherently Unsustainable





181 responses to “Agriculture: The Worst Mistake Humans Ever Made”

  1. Seamus Avatar

    “Limited their populations” thats a nice euphamism for killed the infants they couldnt feed. You also forgot to mention another wonderful population limiting factor: the fact that before modern medicine many women died during childbirth.

    Sorry, but I think I’m happier in a post agricultural society. But to each their own…

    1. Ian Avatar

      A lot of post-agricultural (unhealthy) pre-modern-medicine women died in childbirth.*

      Children died young mostly from disease in infancy, or if they were showing signs that they were not functioning properly they may have undergone infanticide.

      1. Walter Avatar

        Your situation as well as all of us in the first or second world is most atypical. There was a lot of death of children in pre industrial societies and that went on for 10 thousand years. Just like the hunter gatherers the population remained steady for most people, except for the edges where the famers were expanding into the hunter gather populations which was effectively genocide, or the opening of America. (But I think that was done by Hunter Gathers.

        J. S. Bach for example lost several siblings and the Bach family was relatively well off. Among the poor death for infants was horrendous.

        A hundred years of prosperity for the fortunate agricultural societies vice 10 thousand years of
        torture. If offered the choice I would much prefer a life among the hunter gatherers, If I were to be inserted at a random time and place.

        The life you are living is a statistical anomaly.

      2. pete saussy Avatar
        pete saussy

        “undergone infanticide” a marvelous euphemism

    2. David Weiner Avatar
      David Weiner

      According to Weston Price’s research, women in the well-nourished populations that he studied gave birth easily. Perhaps you are thinking about all of the women who were killed by doctors in the 19th century who delivered babies after doing autopsies, without washing their hands. That is what “modern medicine” was responsible for.

    3. Lewis Avatar

      I am also happier in the post agricultural society, but for my future health I am taking a close look at human lifestyles as a species. Low carb moderate protein high fat high nutrition diets are working great for many people. I am sure as humans of the industrial age can find a way to supply that diet to the people of the world.

      A little more education would be nice to convince people that lots of kids are no longer necessary or sustainable.

      1. Ger Avatar

        How can you say that when you never lived as a hunter.

        1. David Avatar

          SO TRUE!!!

    4. Joolie Avatar

      How do know that “many women died in childbirth?” Maybe only a very few died, because they were so much healthier. Killing infants was how they preserved their numbers. How do you know they killed infants they couldn’t feed? Healthy women would have nursed their infants for two years. If a mother had one on the hip, then she might have to kill the one coming out. Who knows. You weren’t there. And also, bones don’t lie.

      Those people kept their numbers at a certain rate. That’s why they offed some of their young.

      1. Kwis Avatar

        How about you go live in the woods Joolie?

        1. Gea Vox Avatar
          Gea Vox

          Can’t, because you and the rest of your RAT family still infest them! LOL!

          1. Ari Avatar

            😀 good one!

        2. Jonathan Mead Avatar

          It would be nice. But how can you now? Our government doesn’t allow people to just “go live in the woods.” It’s all private property or government owned. Saying this is a nice insult, but it’s actually not an option.

          1. Renee Vock Avatar
            Renee Vock

            You can live in national forests for 30
            Days at a time – see rainbow family – they can be nomadic

        3. Raymond Andrews Avatar
          Raymond Andrews

          Why don’t you not be a d*ck, Kwis?

        4. Virginia Avatar

          Very cogent and intelligent.

    5. Anon Avatar

      Post-agricultural? What do you mean by that? What the heck do you eat?

      1. growltigerkat Avatar

        Plastic? Like the whales. Weed killer from Monsanto and GMOs? We seem to be transiting from plant and animal based food to something else. Post-nutrician?

    6. sam Avatar

      im happy to be here alive but what i see is a over populated earth from humans….naturally selection is normal!

    7. Victor Cavin Avatar
      Victor Cavin

      This is a spoof or April fool article?
      It’s not that funny.

      1. Virginia Avatar

        It’s something that intelligent people understand with little difficulty. Anthropology. You are a poster child for the failures of modern society.

        1. CAt Avatar

          I wouldn’t be so snide, Virginia. First of all, all humans skulls are smaller than Crom Magnum man, even the tribal people who are still hunter-gatherers. Secondly, there were many other species of hunter-gatherer humans that did not survive as a species, including Crom Magnum. Homo sapiens are the only species of humans who survived and they evolved to form an agricultural society that, at that time, was considered more beneficial to the tribes. As with all articles on the internet, it is best to read them with some degree of skepticism.

    8. David Salter Avatar
      David Salter

      Yes we are all better off in modern times, but those of us that understand history, and can see where things are going wrong today, can be slightly better off than most.

      I am referring to the “modern processed food” disaster that we are currently suffering, due to “scientists” (who should know better by now) who think that the tiny bit of knowledge they have about how life works, is more reliable than 4.5 billion years of evolution.

    9. Peter T Hooper Avatar
      Peter T Hooper

      There’s this problem too–common to pre-agricultural societies as well as agricultural societies–constant and endless internecine warfare. I’m no fan of the Industrial Age–in the end it will prove to be a net loss for our kind and the world rather than a gain–b ut I’m not at all starry-eyed about pre-historical and early historical eras, either. We face a Human Problem–cleverness, deceit, hierarchy, unlimited competition, nest-fouling and overshoot. We find instances of these going way, way back, on all continents.

    10. Gary Avatar

      You assume they killed offspring. They could have just also not copulated at times.

    11. franky Avatar

      like a dog is happier than a wolf

    12. Reed Schenk Avatar
      Reed Schenk

      I think it’s interesting that the USA- the richest, most powerful, most technologically advanced civilization the World has ever known, ranks 36th in infant mortality, when compared with nations. It seems that many, even in the USA, don’t have access to “modern medicine”.

      1. Lorraine Avatar

        Doesn’t seem right..when the US finds trillions to spend on its Military.

      2. Virginia Avatar

        Much of that infant mortality is due to too much access to “modern medicine”.
        birth defects caused by smoking, drinking and drug use, low birth weight for the same reasons, and “accidents”, many f which are abuse related. The infant mortality is more a reflection of the irresponsibility of segments of the population than anything else.

    13. Eric Schneider Avatar
      Eric Schneider

      Nonsense. Go SPEAK TO TRIBES in Africa, Americas, Australia – THEY ARE NOMADIC or LOCAL STONE AGE PEOPLE!!!!! and they don’t die at 19 or 26!!! nor kill their babies!! Incredibly stupid scientists and readers. THEY ARE STILL ALIVE!!!!!

    14. Howard Avatar

      I agree with Seamus for the most part. The thinkers in this opinion did not use a clear open mind in their conclusions. agriculture is not the cause of racism, corruption, sexual equality. These are ridiculous to even consider.

    15. Josh Avatar

      You could take showers for 6 months with the amount of water it takes to produce one pound of ground beef. This is very far removed from anything that approaches sustainability.

      Also, the fact that our resource distribution decisions are based upon profit, rather then using resources effectively to feed and house everyone. We are forced to compete for labor in order to obtain money, because it’s the only way to legally obtain food and shelter. If you can picture a king sitting on top of a mountain of food while millions starved, this is synonymous with a king who sits on top of a mountain of money while everyone else struggles to find food and housing. Any system that allows for one person to obtain far more resources than they would ever need by cheating is fundamentally, hopelessly flawed.

  2. Jane Susanna ENNIS Avatar
    Jane Susanna ENNIS

    It is true that mono-cropping leads to crop failure and mass starvation,but this has only been a problem since Early Modern times…….Prior to this, crop rotation was the norm.

    1. Virginia Avatar

      And prior to the tipping point, infection doesn’t result in disease or defect.

  3. John M. Buol Jr. Avatar

    >> “Therefore, there could be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others,” Diamond said.

    I’d imagine there would also be no evolutionary biologists, either.

    I’m certain the found pre-agricultural skeletons do indicate sturdier people as those would be the only ones capable of surviving.

    1. Virginia Avatar

      … You don’t see the major flaw in your “logic”? You do realize that all we have now is the bones of these “sturdier” individuals. And everyone dies… So are you saying the “weaker” ones just disintegrated? We would have a record of them the same way we have a record of your so-called “sturdier” people. You didn’t think we know about them because they’re still alive, right?

      1. Iulian Avatar

        the weak were selected in childhood.. they would not survive to become adults therefore they would count for the infant death numbers.

      2. Sherry Willis Avatar

        Also, their lifestyle would have forced their bodies to adapt sturdy individuals. The human body is wonderfully adaptable to work. Most of us do very little actual manual labor these days. We have machines that do it for us… like a washing machine instead of hand washing…

  4. Beatriz Moisset Avatar

    No mention of Paleofantasy by Marlene Zuk. Why? Some of the statements here sound like just that, paleofantasies, without enough evidence.
    If we went back to hunting gathering we would have to start by reducing the human population by 90 or 99%. I would like to see that discussed here.

    1. Elen Sentier Avatar
      Elen Sentier

      Yup! But I suspect the planet will do that for us, and much better than we control-freak humans would do.

      And it’s interesting to watch the terror in people’s eyes at the thought of killing/exposing their children. This too is a very recent issue, brought on by the hierarchy convincing people it’s “not good” in order to keep breeding cannon-fodder for wars and agricultural labour.

      So many shibboleths and boxes to climb out of …

    2. Raymond Andrews Avatar
      Raymond Andrews

      The point was that if we never went into agriculture, we wouldn’t have to reduce the population by 90 or 99% because we would have remained at a sustainable level.

    3. franky Avatar

      we will start with hunting each other

  5. […] Prior to agriculture, humans lived happier, healthier, freer and easier lives, claims one of the world’s top scientists and thinkers. In an article published in Discover Magazine nearly 20 years ago, Pulitzer Prize winning anthropologist and evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond calls agriculture “a catastrophe from which we have never recovered.” …  […]

  6. Robert Greenway Avatar
    Robert Greenway

    (1) if you think this is “the worst mistake, etc.” then for goodness sake, stop eating food grown on farms; (2) balance what has been lost with what has been gained: time to develop lines of consciousness reaching into the cosmos, scientific understanding of the universe, and so on. The issue isn’t to cry for something we can’t return to anyway, but to shape and guide our agriculturalized world into something just, balanced, and sustainable.

    1. Kount Klip Klop Avatar
      Kount Klip Klop

      “Time to develop….” Did you not read the article? Hunter gatherers have far more time to pursue leisure activities. Actually the average member of a hunter gatherer society will have a keener knowledge of astronomy and the natural world (science) than the average person in industrialised society. They work with the sun, the stars and the natural world every day in order to survive. All hunter gatherer societies have astounding cosmologies, clearly they have time to develop lines of consciousness into the cosmos. Probably the bulk of what we do have is retained rather than learned.

      1. Ravus_Sapiens Avatar

        Then how come that is not what we observe in existing hunter/garther people?
        If what you say is true, then those people should have a better understanding of the natural word than we, agricultial people, have. Yet I don’t know that Ive ever heard of “nature people” having, for instance, better medicin than we have, or a better grasp of astronomy, anatomy, macro-biology, zoology, etc. I could go on, but I suspect that either you get the point or you don’t want to get it.
        Now, I acknowledge that there are practical skills like tracking, that hunter/gartherer perople are generally better at than us, and if it wasn’t something we could learn to do just as well, with relative ease, then you would have a point, but plenty of people have lived among hunter/gartherer and learned (some) of their skills. Can you really say that if you did it the other way around, they could learn equally much of our sciences, by staying for a short while in modern society?

        1. Protosapien Avatar

          That comes from numbers of people and is irrelevant, ultimately, in comparison to living free and sustainably on the planet.
          No one person can build a spaceship or computer, it obviously takes thousands to develop through specialized knowledge of many subjects.
          As individuals, I highly doubt bush people know less about living than the current dependent, domesticated humans who rely entirely on thousands of kinds of people just to eat and sleep.
          Being “better” at the subjects you list will not lead to a better quality of life in the long run, I think, is the point of the article. Who can argue that a nuke isn’t more powerful that a bow and arrow?! But, that’s the basic problem. It’s effective short term, but not long term, to continue living past the hunter gatherer stage.

  7. Nick Waters Avatar
    Nick Waters

    Natural selection has run its course. If remaining a hunter-gatherer with all its purported benefits were a superior mode of life, we wouldn’t be typing at each other.

    1. Nemo Avatar

      “natural selectioN” isn’t a closed process. Hunter gatherers still exists as do agricultural humans. The fact that there are currently more of the later does not mean they are “superior”: there is also a lot more of bacteria in a disease before the hosts dies. Which is what we are doing to the biosphere.

      1. richie Avatar

        The fact that there are currently more of the later does not mean they are “superior”. That is correct, but it does mean they are more evolutionary successful

        1. Sebastian Avatar

          Not enough time has passed to even be able to talk about evolution. Evolution is a natural process. We’re winning the “human intelligence vs nature” game at the moment, but only time will tell if this is really a success.

          1. Protosapien Avatar

            Mass intelligence, by numbers, but not by individuals. The outcome is destruction. If the natural environment wasn’t so damaged, humans could continue living for thousands of years as hunter gatherers.
            Name a single civilization that existed as long as even Tanzanians, who only possessed about a dozen unique items for living.

      2. Peabody Avatar

        yes, they do exist and that too at the mercy of agricultural humans. The agricultural humans chose to let them co-exist. Can that be said for hunter gatherer tribes, do they have that much influence on us. You’re comparing us to bacteria, but does a bacteria cannot survive without some host or doing what it’s biologically programmed to do. Whereas, humans have the capability of finding newer ways of feeding themselves, humans have a choice.
        Moreover, these studies are only based on fossil records and can never prove completely how exactly were the lives of Cro-Magnons. As far as the current hunter gatherers are concerned, just think for yourself, will you ever choose that lifestyle over yours.

  8. Attila Avatar

    So far nearly every comment misses the point. People seem to be able to read, but understanding what has been read, is a lot more difficult. No surprises there, but…

    No, there is no mention of “going back”, and it’s a poor argument as well. There is no way to go back, and the authors only talk about the fact that we screwed up… and thus remain screwed for good.

    Also for everyone whonis “happier in a post agricultural society”: How could you not be? That’s practically ALL you’ve ever known! You have absolutely no way to compare anything.

    I have to face it every day, still, the lack of ability to think in abstract terms, or even the least critically, astonishes me every day.

    And all this despite (relatively) good education and low rates of illiteracy (well, functional analphabets are a different question).

    Seriously people, you need to *think* before commenting. Or at least try. Or maybe some just need to pull their heads l out of…

    1. MP Avatar

      Excellent points! I was thinking much the same thing as I read the other comments!

    2. Eric Avatar

      Finally, someone who thinks before they speak. Amazes me how folks get their panties all up in a wad and speak emotionally with out thinking. Attila is the only one who seemed to get the point of the article and my hat is off to him. Thank you for rising above and showing intellect instead of idiocy.

    3. Nic Avatar


    4. Nic Avatar

      Thank you. You articulated what I was thinking as I read the comments.

    5. Bee Avatar

      Will you marry me? LOL.

      Thank you for stating the obvious from this article.

      The cheapest foods in the American stores are starches and sugars. We continually eradicate nature and companies like Monsanto are trying to destroy any natural plants.

      We cannot go back to being hunter/gatherers, but we can make better decisions regarding farming styles and consumption.

      1. Protosapien Avatar

        Why subject yourself to marriage? You’ve learned nothing! Lol

    6. Elen Sentier Avatar
      Elen Sentier


    7. Raymond Andrews Avatar
      Raymond Andrews

      Thank you!

    8. JP Avatar


    9. BReynolds Avatar

      Give us a break. Our brains shrank.

    10. Korben Dallas Avatar
      Korben Dallas

      It’s exactly like Mark Twain says: “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

    11. Ali Avatar

      more over hunting can be only done in wild where there are forests…the research is limited spatially and to add more how can one live on hunting only in densely populated regions like china , india and pakistan. Flat lands , deserts and other arid regions…how to hunt ….impossible to imagine

    12. Hedvig Lockwood Avatar
      Hedvig Lockwood

      AMEN, Attila – and well said. Populations as irrational as modern humanity would not have survived in rigorous conditions as they did for tens of thousands of years. Who can believe now that our civilization is ultimately similarly sustainable?

  9. ErisX Avatar

    I see a lot of denial and avoidance and hostility in the comments here. Shame. This article is great for opening peoples eyes. But I’m reminded of the many conversations I had with myself while reading Ishmael by Quinn. It took me awhile to come to terms with what it says.

    We can’t go back, but we need a solution, because our current culture is unsustainable. On the other hand, we may force ourselves into a gathering/hunting position again.

    1. Kamala Wolf Avatar
      Kamala Wolf

      People definitely need to stop breeding so much, that’s for sure, and it makes sense that diseases became a problem in agricultural societies, but there are some agricultural societies now, such as Okinawa and ikaria, where people are healthy and live long. It is my understanding that before five thousand years ago, there were egalitarianism, agricultural societies, according to marija gimbutas. Personally, my intuition tells me I would be much stronger and healthier as a hunter/gatherer, both physically and psychologically.

  10. Petra Avatar

    This article hits the nail on the head. In my research on the effects of grain on the human body whilst working out the source of my own allergies, I found a direct relation between the emotional state of a person and the food he consumes. A feeling of well being was consequent to eating fresh raw greens and even cooked meat. However, eating grain like rice or bread brought about brain fog, anger and depression. Also one gets only a temporary feeling of fullness after eating grain, it is almost like a bottomless pit! No wonder most revolutions began when the price or availability of bread was in question.Seems like the fertile crescent was the seed of a kind of mass hypnotism that the consumption of grain brought about.

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      I agree, and think it was originally a protection against starvation but became a staple food. Grain is a seed, which is not ideal for the human digestive system and doe not supply sufficient nutrients even when grown on fertile soil.
      Educating myself on the impact of grain is what led me to understanding the premise of this article long before ever reading such hypotheses.

  11. Ziad Avatar

    ErisX we already have a solution proposed by Jacques Fresco. It’s called a RBE(Resource Based Economy) but is sometimes referred to as a NLE(Natural Law Economy) also. You’ll find out more on it in this video:

  12. […] Agriculture: “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” […]

  13. Bobby Avatar

    how was their internet prn?

  14. Nick Avatar

    Interesting article. Food for thought.Some commenters seemed to have posted their reactions before they thought fact and reason through. What I would ask here is that despite the apparent advantages of well being in hunter gather lifestyle over agriculture and its well-being short fall – Wouldnt you have to accept the high possibility of seasonal group starvation in hunter gatherer tribes? At this moment I can think of two historical accounts of hunter gather tribes (New World and Australasian ) who recounted seasons of starvation.Even tho-humter gatherer seems more appealing, doesnt it..

    1. Gea Vox Avatar
      Gea Vox

      You are too generous Nick, “some commentators” simply haven’t the capacity for thought.

      As to your postulation about starvation, I guess that one cannot generalise, a lot would depend on where the hunter-gatherer clan/tribe lived. If they were somewhere like, say, Anatolia (where one of the largest and earliest human settlements Çatal Höyük was founded), they would have a vast plain to roam, following the great auroch herds, hunting boar, deer, hares, squirrels and goats. For plants they would have had wild lentils, einkorn wheat, barley, pistachios, figs and other fruit, as well as green shoots from the allium family and other green leaf vegetables and roots. In rivers and lakes they would have had the option of fish, crayfish and small amphibians. So, with the exception of great droughts, affecting whole continents, they would mostly have had food all year ’round, moving with the seasons, from plain to hillside to mountain and coastline, stopping only while food was plentiful, moving on when it began to dwindle.

      Consider, on the other hand, the plight of settled pastoral-agricultural communities. Once fully invested in their settlements they simply would not be set-up for nomadic lifestyle anymore, and so droughts would be devastating, as would pests and disease in plants, herds/flocks and human communities.

      So the article’s claims are not really surprising, if you think about it, but we should also reflect that the high infant mortality was probably not so much the result of infanticide as that of birth defects and difficulties, like breach births, that are still today both common and life-threatening, in the absence of proper medical assistance.

      What I find extraordinary, reading the comments on here, is how many Australopithecines have survived, to haunt the Internet, rising up on their hind legs and tapping furiously on keyboards, with their non-opposable thumbs!

      Fair due to them for learning to read and write English, though! Well… nearly! LOLOLOLOL!

    2. Protosapien Avatar

      Yes, starvation is common in the wild depending on the location.
      I’d also argue that humans do store food depending on climate and other conditions.

    3. Hedvig Lockwood Avatar
      Hedvig Lockwood

      A lot of people don’t and/or can’t read or reason. I appreciate those who, like many commentators here, do both.

  15. john Avatar

    food forests the best easiest and ultimate correction ~ john oneill ~ Food forests for healing, health & peace

    1. Antoinette Goosen Avatar
      Antoinette Goosen

      Now we’re talking. To recover from our imbalance we need to make nutrient-dense food easily available and activate community participation and cohesion. Teaching by living the example is how we are going to inspire change. We can’t (don’t necessarily want to) return to the old ways of being in a flash. There needs to be practical adjustments to our current lifestyle. That takes time. Besides, the Earth changes taking place as a natural part of our cosmic, 13000 year cataclysmic cycle are giving us many environmental changes to deal with (not forgetting our own part in it for a moment). I think we would serve our selves well to investigate alternative ways of living, that support life and our innate connection to nature, including the best aspects of our current, painfully acquired, collective wisdom and build from there.

      1. Hedvig Lockwood Avatar
        Hedvig Lockwood

        Yes, Antoinette, that is surely the best – and maybe the only viable – course we as humanity could take. And I believe it’s even an instinctive one for normal people, because we are a social species, and this can be seen whenever people are left alone to work things out among their fellows at a small scale. But the way agricultural civilization has developed into nearly universally hierarchical social organizations continues to provide job opportunities for the (relatively rare) sociopaths, those who desire to dominate others, for whatever reasons. In the hunter-gatherer days, as I understand it such folks would be given a one-way ticket to nowhere and would suffer greatly diminished opportunities to pass on their DNA! Even such fighting as occurred among bands or tribes was fought only where their overpopulation encroached on one-another’s hunting and gathering grounds and, even at that, consisted mainly of posturing, with exchanges of members to spruce up everyone’s DNA.

        Our hierarchical systems and those individuals invested in their continuation work against humanity’s socialistic (dare I say it) instincts. It’s this conflict that is doing us in and is why I, for one, do not see our way forward other than being forced to adopt a lifestyle suited to our species by the eventual collapse of civilization – be that through climate change, plague, starvation, nuclear war, or some combination of those and perhaps other events. But it’s so unnatural to give up hope! I want to believe there is a way to correct ourselves and I know we have it in us, but I don’t yet see how it is going to happen.

    2. MrB Avatar

      thats what I found as well! Food forests are the solution to about all the problems industrial agriculture makes

  16. WEALL WEONE Avatar

    Coulda, woulda shoulda, thgis whole article is a complete waste of time. We would have a world population in the millions instead of billions. This whole article is bullshit! Let’s write and think about ways to solve Earth’s ecological, economic, political and religious concerns instead of bemoaning the past! Go to for the WEALL WEsolutions!

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      It won’t work. Allow an old scientist to dream, will you? Lol

  17. Analisa Avatar

    I’m impressed, I need to say. Really hardly ever do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me let you know, you’ve gotten hit the nail on the head. Your concept is excellent; the issue is something that not sufficient individuals are speaking intelligently about. I’m very comfortable that I stumbled throughout this in my seek for one thing relating to this.

    1. Dan Avatar

      We will keep making short sighted unsustainable decisions if we don’t acknowledge and learn from systems that worked in harmony with the earth for millions of years. Permaculture is the synthesis of knowledge and practices that care for earth and people, providing abundance for all. We have the tools already, they are free and can support all 7 billion of us.

  18. Shoura Avatar

    Read “The Greatest Estate on Earth”… pre agricultural Australia. … nomadic hunter gather natural cultivation methods. Brilliant and amazing.

  19. Marianne Lelieveld Avatar
    Marianne Lelieveld

    I.m.o. simplicistic half-truth theorizing by Jared Diamand. He’s avoiding our world’s worst scourge = ponerology/psycopathy and simply blaming ‘agriculture’. He thus provides an excuse for further genocide, eugenics and growing ponerology!

    Other scientists have shown that there were large, complex, culturally well advanced, peace-loving egalitarian agricultural societies more than 5000 years ago.

    1. Bob Avatar

      Would you please name those societies? Common history focuses on conquerors. The argument that agricultural societies build up stores of value that invites inequality and plunder seems valid. Do there exist opposing comparisons of the two?

    2. Protosapien Avatar

      I, too, would like to see the names of the societies.
      It seems you don’t understand the article. It’s not stating that there can’t be “good times” along the way, but that the long term outcome of turning to agriculture is what you now see around the earth–mega cities, poor nutrition, destruction of the ecosystems, crime, poverty, mass warfare and so on.

    3. Hedvig Lockwood Avatar
      Hedvig Lockwood

      Yes, do name them…

  20. Franco Avatar

    Interesting. Fewer happy people or large number of unhappy people. Those are our choices. I’ve always said that as a species… We truly destroy our plant BECAUSE there’s just too many of us. We need to start to limit birth or find ways to discourage people from popping so many babies.

  21. […] Agriculture: “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” […]

  22. Shari Avatar

    Is there some tribe I can join? I want to live as a hunter/gatherer. I know somebody with a gun will show up eventually and slaughter us, but it’s still worth it.

    1. Hedvig Lockwood Avatar
      Hedvig Lockwood

      Shari, you have good instincts. Don’t ever forget them!

  23. Michelle Cookson Avatar
    Michelle Cookson

    Interesting, but I always notice how images used to represent humans mostly show males – why is that, since they are only 50% of humans? Man is NOT only man! This is the subtle kind of stuff that girls grow up with – every cultural representation will show a male norm, as if girls and women are not important. This stuff matters for our daughters.

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      Take your hypersensitive feminism and calm down. The article clearly states a better status for women pre-agricultural. Try thinking, not merely reacting to something hunter gatherers never really needed to worry about. Social class and dominance was on a very small scale or nonexistent. You see, in nature, it is fair even if hard. Women will get what they deserve and so will men. Nature is blind to your genitalia.

  24. Chupacabras Avatar

    At this point it’s instructive to recall the common complaint that archaeology is a luxury, concerned with the remote past, and offering no lessons for the present. Archaeologists studying the rise of farming have reconstructed a crucial stage at which we made the worst mistake in human history. Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.

  25. GBE Avatar

    finally an author with the courage to go against mainstream brainwashing and telling the truth!

  26. Ian Avatar

    Sounds pretty right to me ,probably not a lot of emotional baggage we carry today ,but there is the human element that has developed where greed and power comes in. Hence development which is power i develop a product and convince everyone they need it then i invent bartering or money now i have control and its goes on and on not good for the earths future with humans in control

  27. Dan Avatar

    We can/have learnt from these mistakes and the answer lies in permaculture type food systems.

  28. GrandSmeta Avatar

    At this point it’s instructive to recall the common complaint that archaeology is a luxury, concerned with the remote past, and offering no lessons for the present. Archaeologists studying the rise of farming have reconstructed a crucial stage at which we made the worst mistake in human history. Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.

  29. […] […]

  30. RuKompas3D Avatar

    At this point it’s instructive to recall the common complaint that archaeology is a luxury, concerned with the remote past, and offering no lessons for the present. Archaeologists studying the rise of farming have reconstructed a crucial stage at which we made the worst mistake in human history. Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.

  31. DeklarantAlco Avatar

    At this point it’s instructive to recall the common complaint that archaeology is a luxury, concerned with the remote past, and offering no lessons for the present. Archaeologists studying the rise of farming have reconstructed a crucial stage at which we made the worst mistake in human history. Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.

  32. MyPublicWiFi Avatar

    This post made me wonder whether the human race is better off without agriculture. Without an agricultural revolution, we would not have had an industrial revolution. Without an industrial revolution, the ecosystem would be balanced and maybe we would have more resources for the world s hungriest people over more generations. Perhaps all this progress that has led to better standards for those of us who live in comfort is a set of benefit outweighed by the problems created by interfering with the ecology, even before you factor in the animal suffering created by habitat destruction and just look at how the human race is faring over generations.

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      Great comment.

  33. Marc Avatar

    To think people were better off as hunter/gatherers is naieve. Hunter/gatherer peoples also waged savage wars, as provisions were scarce. The average lenght and health was better? Sure, when you lose everyone that is not strong/fast/tall enough. Imagine the brainwpower lost because the weaker tribe members die off by the dozens.
    And no: the number of women dying during childbirth was not lower because people were healthier.
    As said before, without the agricultural revolution, no industrial revolution, thus no scientific revolution (which we now live in), so we wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place, not only because we wouldn’t have gotten internet, but also because most of us would have been killed by diseases or by wild animals, or by hostile tribes.
    In short: look at how the hunter/gatherer peoples of today live without idolizing them.

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      How do you know that about childbirth. It is a proven fact that malnutrition and disease is a major cause of problems from women and children. Take even recently the enormous increase in the numbers of children with autism. People like to compare early agricultural with current standards, but if you look at pre-agricultural, there were many problems that simply did not exist.

  34. […] sad tale, memorably spun by Jared Diamond some years ago, reflects Harris’ principle: intensification inevitably leads to benefits for the few; misery […]

  35. Lawrence Avatar

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not fail me as much as this one.
    After all, Yes, it was my choice to read through,
    but I actually thought you would probably have something useful to talk about.
    All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you can fix if you
    were not too busy looking for attention.

  36. Декларация З-НДФЛ Avatar

    Hi Rob, glad you liked the article. How do you think the biblical account might contribute to these ideas about transitions between hunter-gatherers and agriculture?

  37. Peter T Hooper Avatar
    Peter T Hooper

    Pre-agricultural societies as well as the agricultural societies which came after experienced constant and endless internecine warfare. I’m no fan of the Industrial Age–in the end it will prove to be a net loss for our kind and the world rather than a gain–but at the same time I’m not at all starry-eyed about the human experience for most people in pre-historical and early historical eras, either. We face a Human Problem–cleverness, deceit, hierarchy, unlimited competition, nest-fouling and overshoot. We find instances of these going way, way back, on all continents.

  38. Rafaelkn Avatar

    The progressivist party line sometimes even goes so far as to credit agriculture with the remarkable flowering of art that has taken place over the past few thousand years. Since crops can be stored, and since it takes less time to pick food from a garden than to find it in the wild, agriculture gave us free time that hunter-gatherers never had. Thus it was agriculture that enabled us to build the Parthenon and compose the B-minor Mass.

  39. […] RELATED: Agriculture: “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” […]

  40. […] RELATED: Civilization is Inherently Unsustainable RELATED: Agriculture: “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” […]

  41. […] RELATED: Agriculture: “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” […]

  42. Avatar

    At this point it’s instructive to recall the common complaint that archaeology is a luxury, concerned with the remote past, and offering no lessons for the present. Archaeologists studying the rise of farming have reconstructed a crucial stage at which we made the worst mistake in human history. Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.

    1. geyser Avatar

      starvation, warfare, and tyranny existed before trees. This article is nonsense.

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  46. […] can’t return to the lifestyle we’ve been living for the last 200 years, or maybe even the last 10,000 years, but maybe we’re on our way to something […]

  47. […] RELATED: Agriculture: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race […]

  48. geyser Avatar

    “The agricultural diet is based primarily on high-carbohydrate, low-nutrient-density crops like grains and potatoes, while the gatherer-hunter diet was comprised of a more varied mix of wild plants and animals, providing a better balance of nutrients.

    The agricultural revolution provided “cheap calories at the cost of poor nutrition,” Diamond said. Today just three starchy plants – wheat, rice, and corn – provide the vast majority of the calories consumed by the human species. All three are deficient in vitamins and amino acids essential to life.”

    Our diets are far more varied today than the hunter-gatherer types had. Yes we eat far more wheat and corn, but we eat other stuff as well.

    This argument also performs the usual trick of pretending jealousy is limited to material things, and that hunter gatherers were hyper conscious of birth control. Utter nonsense. Women were far worse off.

    how do people buy into this shit?

  49. Ron K Avatar
    Ron K

    This is the most irrational, misinformed article I have read in a long time. Agriculture, along with the advent of the written language, is responsible for a concept called”civilization”. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. There are many flaws with agriculture, but in our current scope of knowledge and resources, malnutrition in in any post industrial society can only be attributed to the poor choices of the individual. Any other conclusion is just sheer folly.

    1. Vicky Avatar

      Or perhaps ‘bad’ genes inherited from our past agricultural generations. What about the explosion of food allergies – isn’t it because of unnatural nutrition that doesn’t agree with the organism?
      Some 10-thousand (for most of us more like 6000) years of unnatural selection didn’t strengthen our biology, quite the opposite. Natural selection for millions of years evolved us into healthy well adapted beings. These adaptations don’t change easily just because someone decided that rodent food (i.e. grains) and overcrowding is good for us. Maybe for our survival – as high numbers can defend themselves better from other human enemies/competitors. And that’s what we’re doing – surviving, not thriving. Trying to improve on nature with our so-called intelligent choices can only fail.

    2. Protosapien Avatar

      There are no waters free of contamination. There are no animal and plants to eat for the 7.5 billion people except farmed.
      Your logic is too reductionistic. You’d need to ponder this subject a little deeper to understand it.

  50. outrageous nomade Avatar
    outrageous nomade

    Can you imagine living without your cell phone?

  51. Avatar

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  52. Clncatfish Avatar

    He published 30 years ago using printing press and ink. Today we are using Internet. Irony in so many ways. When you look at communication in hunter gather society.

  53. Tim Avatar

    I don’t agree that agriculture, per se, is responsible for all of the problems that this article claims. The author argues that agriculture is bad because:

    1. Heavy dependence on grains and starchy crops is nutritionally deficient.

    There are many reasons why carbohydrates not only aren’t “bad” for you, but are in fact an essential part of a healthy diet. When it comes to carbohydrates and our health, however, it is important to distinguish between complex carbs and simple carbs.

    Dietary recommendations emphasize the use of complex carbohydrates that are found in grains, beans, nuts, seeds and most vegetables. These are the highest quality energy source. The long time that it takes our bodies to break down the more complex starch chains down to glucose allows the body to maintain a continually balanced energy or blood sugar level. Simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, break down more quickly, causing uneven energy and spikes in blood sugar. These simple carbs are found in foods such as refined flour, fruit, honey, table sugar, and corn syrup.

    When we examine the body, we can see that humans have evolved to consume complex carbohydrates in the form of grains, beans and vegetables. Our saliva contains amylases, which are enzymes that are specifically for breaking down complex carbohydrates. Our long digestive tract and even the proportion of our teeth also reveal that we developed as a species to include complex carbohydrates as over half of our daily food.

    Nutritionally, whole grains (the traditional human Staff of Life, or principal food) are important sources of many nutrients, including B vitamins, folic acid, iron, magnesium and selenium, which are involved in hundreds of the body’s processes. Whole grains have been shown to lower risk of premature death:

    2. Mono-cropping leads to crop failure and mass starvation.

    The author correctly states that dependence on a small variety of crops can lead to starvation, but that is only one more modern form of agriculture. Many traditional forms of agriculture, including milpas and Three Sisters companion planting were traditionally very diverse. Agricultural peoples who practiced these ecological forms of agriculture bred hundreds of varieties of crops to rely upon for food security. If crops ever failed, they could always rely upon wild and native plants which remained part of the diet.

    3. Higher population density encouraged epidemic disease.

    There is certainly truth to this, but it also depends on the part of the world and time period we are discussing. The plague and other diseases certainly spread in Asia and Europe due to high population concentration, but rendered immunity to the surviving populations that indigenous Americans did not have. Ironically, those of us whose ancestors survived such pandemics can now survive diseases which might still be fatal for more remote, un-contacted populations. Many highly populated cities in the Americas, however, such as Tenochtitlan were dependent upon agriculture and yet extremely clean and, from my knowledge, did not suffer from the spread of such epidemics (in Pre-hispanic times). Perhaps this was because they did not live in close proximity to as many domesticated animals as in Europe and Asia. Additionally, the Mexica bathed and used the steam-house daily, had sewer systems with running water, and freshwater aqueducts. The streets of Tenochtitlan were cleaned by thousands of street-cleaners everyday, which surely prevented epidemic disease.

    4. Agriculture destroyed human egalitarianism.

    Really? This sounds more like romanticism of the paleolithic era rather than anything based on fact. Before the specialization of labor developed (due to an abundant food supply from agriculture) were things egalitarian, or did the strongest, most able-bodied among us rule? Egalitarianism can certainly be a product of civilization, which depends on a stable food supply and agriculture. There are different forms of agriculture, but it is agriculture and civilization, nonetheless, which enable us to develop the principals of egalitarianism which we so value. Look to the many matriarchal agricultural societies which have existed in Africa, the Americas, Europe, etc. to realize that agriculture per se did not determine our values.

    5. Agriculture destroyed our free time.

    It depends how we define agriculture. People here in California, for instance, mostly did not plant corn, squash, or other agricultural crops, although they very well could have. Rather, Californians cultivated and tended the immense biodiversity which the land had to offer in order to produce food in abundance for human needs. Pruning grape vines, burning chia fields and other practices are a form of agriculture that made the most sense and which indeed provided for leisure time. However, the surplus food supplies formed by agricultural civilizations are the reason we have highly developed arts, science, philosophy, literature, etc. So agriculture in its varied forms really did free us up to pursue these other areas of human development.

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      Grains are seeds suited to bird digestive systems, not human. Yes, complex carbohydrates are ideal, but not those ones deficient is nutrition. Wild plants and animals would always be better for many reason if just pondered a while. Grain fed animals aren’t rich in nutrition for us either. Cultivated plants are less resistant to disease as will be those who eat them. They cannot survive on their own, farm animals can’t and neither can those who eat them.

  54. ax123man Avatar

    Reduction in brain size did not correlate well with the timing of agriculture. The size of the brain is correlated to body size, which has shrunk (so what?). I think you’d have a hard time arguing that the size of the modern human brain has held us back in that sense. You can claim that life pre-ag was not “nasty and brutish”. However, I personally like the way I live quite a lot. Pre-ag humans lived in what most, especially on the left, would say are poverty conditions.

    But the larger problem with this article is that, by advocating for the elimination of agriculture you are essentially calling for the non-birth of billions of humans in the last 50,000 years. This would especially be true if this life-style does not include burning fossil fuels.

  55. […] The book Sex at Dawn speculates that the “Garden of Eden” myth represents a true story about “the fall” of humans from gathering and hunting to agriculture.  (See Agriculture: The Worst Mistake Humans Ever Made.) […]

  56. Sam Avatar

    Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the article is totally correct. (It has some arguable material, but let’s pretend it doesn’t.) Its ambition– its ideal– is far too meager.

    Even if you somehow balance humanity with all other life on Earth, that’s hardly a guarantee of human survival. The universe is full of cosmic catastrophes that a hunter-gatherer species would be helpless to either affect or survive, that would wipe out that mode of civilization with the callous indifference of a windshield splattering bugs.

    But let’s say, again for the sake of argument, that we luck out and no such calamity befalls us. The ambition of surviving until the death of Earth is STILL too small. I don’t want humanity to survive until Earth dies; I want it to survive on the Moon, too. And on Mars. And on every rock in this solar system.

    More than that: I want the stars. I want the galaxy. I want humanity spread throughout the heavens, bringing life to lifelessness wherever we go. I want us spread across a million stars over ten million worlds, at peace with ourselves and impossible to destroy. You want humans to survive until Earth dies? I want humans to survive until the heat death of the *universe*.

    The bushmen of the Kalahari are not going to get us there.

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      What’s the point of spreading ourselves out beyond the earth? What is the reason?

  57. swirlingrainbow Avatar

    Interesting, but in my point of vue missing the real raisons of the misery we created and creating on Earth. There were agricultural societies sharing equally the abondance coming from the Earth and spiritually working with her and taking care of each other in the community as relatives and also the land as the commun mother of all life formes. It is not to cultivate food created the negative outcomes and endless suffering we experienced for thousands of years, but the negative, careless intentions and means to control and occupy the land as private property, to accumulate wealth through the slavery of others and through controlling the originally free natural resources. All those negative intentions to dominate, to profite and to abuse others of all cost, to feel powerful and above the others, created wars, slavery, diseases, massive destructions and poisoning of the land, all forms of life and the body, mind and spirit of humanity. The root of all these perceptual distorsions are spiritual, reflecting the missing consciousness and awareness that we are all related, all family and that the highest form of individual and communal life is harmony and the missing understanding of the need to share unconditionally the abundante gifts of life and to take loving caring of all life and all parts of creation. To fail to give the highest value above all to peace and evolution of spiritual consciousness instead of greed and control through violence.

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      Human nature won’t change. Limited power and numbers would allow us to be as we are without threatening the health of the ecosystems we departmend upon.

  58. agus Avatar

    today problem is not agriculture, it is human greed and laziness

  59. Counterpoint Avatar

    The acceptability and rejection largely stems from an underlying assumption that living longer is somehow a need as opposed to a want. That’s why we are stuck with this “how many years we could live” debate. The point here, I think, is that quality of life is more important than quantity. So living 100yrs as slaves to different forms of life consuming work in the modern society, according to the author, is not as good as having 26yrs of life which you can largely enjoy with freedom as and when you wanted. Yes one might die after about 26yrs of good life, but that’s ok because death is just a part of the natural cycle which everything in the universe goes through.there was nothing missing before you were born and there won’t be anything lacking after you are gone, neither to you not to others.

  60. Dinesh Avatar

    I would now interested what human lost while migrated from agriculture to industrialization

  61. Vivek Patil Avatar

    I find striking similarities between Hunter-gatherer’s era and 19th century world.
    The hunters who later took up agriculture in hope of increasing the production of food messed up the systems by making it skewed towards one section of society. Similar decision by industrialists and policymakers (and consumers) who promoted limitless industrial revolution ended up messing the environment and entire civilization. In contrast, those who chose to live by natural and pre-industrial ways of living, could build a sustainable livelihood without affecting other humans, animals, trees or ecosystem.
    In conclusion, the change and relentless growth can drift and will drift towards destruction!

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      In deed! You get it too!

  62. txcaddo Avatar

    scientists have such a limited, narrow view of the universe. I come from a corn culture tribe and take offense at the suggestion that growing corn, squash and beans in an agricultural way somehow contributed to our decline and sexism..this is such a euro-centric perspective. Even though we had crops we were still hunter-gatherers eating fresh food water and game. You know what contributed to the decline in our health don’t you? wasn’t our corn.

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      True. Staying primitive is the answer, not merely the avoidance of cultivating plants.
      Not being bent on expansion…

  63. Thomas Avatar

    Without agriculture we wouldnt have computers that today have the entire world connected… with maybe the exception of remote places of africa… if there is a gross mistreatment of a people we are able as a world to know instantly and step in and defend those peoples rights to their land and their culture. Camera phones being everywhere is still in its infancy so we havent and governments (USA) are still manipulating world events like the invasion of iraq but in time it will sort itself out and we will be better because of it… What about our mission to colonize mars?? Would that have ever happened without agriculture?

    1. Christopher Brown Avatar
      Christopher Brown

      Colonizers are inevitably destroyers. Colonization only takes place in order to secure more resources due to depletion of existing resources in a given area. The idea of colonizing Mars exists because there is a lack of resources here on Terra.

  64. Thomas Avatar

    The best and worst thing that ever happened was the automobile.

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      Electricity! Don’t forget that one!

  65. MN2MX Avatar

    Suggested reading:

    The first part of Sapiens; A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah.

  66. B. W. Bickle Avatar
    B. W. Bickle

    Is the Woman ( the Author) a complete idiot? the facts she has quoted are bull esp about the physical size of pre Agricultural humans!

  67. […] both those who existed prior to agriculture and those who’ve survived it until today, had/have no concept of work. Their […]

  68. […] Monogamy and grain-consumption have something else in common — they are products of agriculture, along with the concepts of private property and slavery. […]

  69. Iulian Avatar

    This article is misleading in lots of ways. If you want to become a hunter-gatherer then go ahead and buy a ticket to Papua New Guinea. I don’t think you would survive a month in the wilderness. Hunter-Gatherers were always on the run in constant stress, putting themselves in danger in search for food. They had lots of free time to worry about the bear that could attack them at night in their miserable caves, about that leopard that could get them from the tree, about that evil spirit(bacteria) that took its toll every now an then… I guess they are really free to do nothing meaningful. What is their legacy? They had big brains and great potential. But they lacked the safe environment to use it for much else than survival. If they didn’t evolve maybe a different animal would have eventually and we would maybe see 2 legged cats instead of apes driving cars. And a hairy human skin under their feet or on their walls.

    1. Protosapien Avatar

      Not all people lived in an environment that hostile, but I get your point. It wasn’t all “peaces and cream.”

  70. […] Agriculture: “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” […]

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  72. PShyam Singh Chandel Avatar
    PShyam Singh Chandel

    I don’t agree with this analysis.It is easier to say t that earlier society was happier and agriculture is the route cause for all problems, But the view point is not in correct perspective even if some one Pulitzer Prize winning anthropologist and evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond is saying so ..A Society develops in a way with centuries of time line and it is easier to identify later causes of present day society problems with such a simplistic analysi

  73. Shyam Singh Chandel Avatar
    Shyam Singh Chandel

    I don’t agree with this analysis.It is easier to say t that earlier society was happier and agriculture is the route cause for all problems, But the view point is not in correct perspective even if some one Pulitzer Prize winning anthropologist and evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond is saying so ..A Society develops in a way with centuries of time line and it is easier to identify later causes of present day society problems with such a simplistic analysi

  74. Protosapien Avatar

    Yes, hindsight is better than foresight. Yet, the problem has been correctly identified through hindsight. Just accept it, we were better off living simply on a healthy planet with abundant wild plants and vegetation. Nothing beyond that was necessary or beneficial, especially when considering the eventual outcome.

  75. Sara Avatar

    Very helpful article but I would rather live the agricultural life

    1. Sara Avatar

      Of course you would I agree on that

  76. Eric Schneider Avatar
    Eric Schneider

    Nonsense. Go SPEAK TO TRIBES in Africa, Americas, Australia – THEY ARE NOMADIC or LOCAL STONE AGE PEOPLE!!!!! and they don’t die at 19 or 26!!! nor kill their babies!! Stop “fantasizing about what life was 2, 10, 300K years ago. GO SPEAK TO THEM; THEY ARE STILL ALIVE!! Incredibly stupid scientists and readers.

  77. Craig Avatar

    Well I am carnivore now, and still get to keep my iPad. Seriously though, when studies start to be taken seriously about what is food, I am not sure if I will be able to afford to eat like this anymore. Think I’d rather die than go back to plants. Hope it won’t come to that for a while yet.

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  81. Avatar

    Hello everybody, here every person is sharing
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  82. Randolph Ferris Avatar
    Randolph Ferris

    Agriculture as a science seems to be mixed up with commercial agriculture as a business here. The Great Depression in our own country is as far back as you need research. The city dwellers, who were reliant on commercial agriculture to feed them starved, while rural subsistence farmers grew their own food, and traded the surplus with neighbors for crops they differed from their own. I grew up in a rural area, and the only frozen vegetables I saw were from our gardens; and green beans, tomatoes, corn on the cob, and squash of all kinds were always on our table through the growing seasons. Meat came from hunting deer, geese, pheasant, and from catching fish like bullheads and smelt.

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  85. George Steele Avatar
    George Steele

    Jared Diamond is a fanciful rewriter of history largely dominated by his own prejudices and apologism for primitive societies. His Guns, germs, and steel hypothesis extols the virtues of lifestyles that are throwbacks to the disease-ridden pre-civilized world. In short, he’s nuts. Were we better off before penicillin? Before sterile surgical procedures? Before mass redistribution of meats, fruits, and vegetables from all over the planet vs. limited to foodstuffs available in the immediate vicinity? Before full understanding of human biology, and how to minister to the ill? Yeah, it would be a great benefit to my life to spend a day walking barefoot to and from a food source, protected from wild animals by a wooden spear. Dumber than a toilet bowl full of rusty hammers.

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