This is an excerpt from “Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them” by Dan Saladino. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright 2021 by Dan Saladino. All rights reserved.
We were born to eat wild. For most of our history, human survival meant foraging for plants, collecting nuts and seeds, and tracking and killing animals. By any measure, hunting and gathering has been our most successful lifestyle to date. In the late 1960s, the anthropologists Richard Lee and Irven DeVore estimated that of the 85,000 million people who had ever lived, 90 percent were hunters and gatherers and only about 6 percent lived as farmers. The barely significant number that remained were experimenting with life in the industrialized world. Our physiology, psychology, fears, hopes and dietary preferences have been shaped by our evolution as hunters and gatherers. Our bodies haven’t changed that much but our way of life and our diets have, profoundly and at speed.