Comparison of Industrial and Foraging Societies

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I normally consider myself to be a person who appreciates simplicity, so my initial reaction to this question was that I would prefer a foraging society to an industrial society. By the time I had finished thinking it through, however, I was less certain of my preference. Four advantages of a foraging society that I find particularly compelling (in addition to “simplicity,” to whatever extent that assumption is true) relate to human health, population control, egalitarianism, and sustainability.

The need to hunt and gather for subsistence means that people are active through the day and unlikely to indulge in laziness and in wasteful overeating habits that can wreak havoc on human health. Therefore, it stands to reason that lifestyle-linked health problems, such as diabetes, coronary disease, obesity, and in some cases, cancer are less commonplace or non-existent in foraging societies. In an industrial society, we have the technical ability to alter things not intended for human consumption into “food” with questionable safety. I’m thinking about everything from aspartame to Twinkies, to genetically modified organisms… there is no shortage of examples of consumables in an industrialized society that should be considered eat-at-your-own-risk. We have moved away from consuming simple, whole foods and toward an array of fast-food habits just because we can. Unfortunately, the negative health impacts of some of these habits are becoming clearer all the time.

In biology I
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