The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race
Here's a link to an article that I ran across a few months ago while working as a substitute teacher in a high school AP Environmental Science class. It was originally published in Discover Magazine in May 1987, but it is still relevant in 2013 - maybe even more so.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had a more diverse and healthier diet, longer life spans, more equal division of labour between the sexes, and had much more leisure time at their disposal than their early agriculturalist counterparts. Our species lived the first 90 percent of its lifetime living under this model...how did it all change? Perhaps Darwin has much to say about this question - early farmers needed more offspring in order to work the fields. The progeny of farmers tend to be farmers themselves. More farmers require more land and more wood. Very quickly the hunter-gatherers of the world are either starved or crowded out. Fast forward 10,000 years and the agriculturalists' descendants are plagued with health problems linked almost exclusively to their diet, a culture of rape and misogyny, and vast economic inequality leading to an ever shrinking length of the day devoted to leisure/arts.
It is almost certainly far too late for us to return to the woods...we've cut down most of the trees and polluted our water supply enough to render most of the berries inedible. But, we can still learn how to frame our modern problems within the naturalist mind set. If we can't spurn agriculture after all these centuries, then perhaps we can actually put some of its advancements to work in an effort to realize a harmony that our species shared with this planet for most of our relationship with it.