Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Subsistence and Economy

Subsistence and Economy

Part 1:

     1. The two types of subsistence patterns include food gatherers and food producers. Hunter gatherers benefit in ways because these cultures could gather and hunt food that could last for  three days or more and the rest of their time would just be relaxation. Also the food they gathered would have more protein and therefore hunter-gatherers have healthier and lean bodies. This would also result in a better immune system to fight diseases, such as cancer. Although the benefits of agriculture can be significant because it provides a substantial amount of food not just for a family but for a whole civilization. Also it provides jobs and growth for an economy. There are several different ways in which a culture can provide for their subsistence. They can be food foragers, pastoralists, horticulturists, or agriculturists. There are benefits from both types of the hunter, gatherer and agriculture ways and they include;

    Benefits of Food Foragers;

  • These type of providers live in small populations and work together as a team.
  • They learned how to hunt, fish and gather wild plant foods.
  • When food foragers had the Earth to themselves they had their pick of the best food.
  • Foragers have a balanced diet and are less likely to experience famine.
  • They have plenty of leisure time and concentrate on family. 
  • Food foragers are physically fit from hunting and gathering food.
   Benefits of Pastoralists:

  • They had domesticated animals to provide meat, dairy products and skin.
  • Pastoralists had small gardens to grow fruits and vegetables.
  • The whole community could be fed the meat from their animals, not just their own families.
  • They could use their animals as transportation to other territories.
  • Pastoralists have a well balanced diet.
   Benefits of Horticulturists:

  • This group of  culture were considered to be gardeners and benefited by using hand tools.
  •  They cultivated several varieties of food plants in a small garden.
  • Horticulturists would grow enough food for their subsistence and as well as surplus.
  • These people also hunted and fished when needed to.    
  • Horticulturists have a well balanced diet.

  Benefits of Agriculturists:

  • Agriculturists grow food  like grains, fruits and vegetables and therefore get more nutrition.
  • This type of culture has technology to help with massive food production.
  • Surplus crop cultivation is substantial and can provide food for hundreds to thousands of consumers.
  • They can sell their surplus for cash or gold.    

2. Although, there are costs or disadvantages to these patterns of subsistence. For example, the hunter-gatherer pattern is almost extinct. According to Cultural Anthropology, "Today at most a quarter of a million people(less then 0.005% of the world population of over 6.8 billion) still support themselves mainly on foragers."(pg. 166). These types of cultures are found in isolated areas of the Earth like the Arctic. There are also disadvantages of Agriculturists because of  the extensive growth of population and therefore the need for more subsistence.

   Disadvantages of Food Foragers:

  • Food is becoming scarce because of the shortage of abundance of food and fuel resources.
  • This type of pattern does not give many people subsistence, only in local families.
  • It is difficult for them to be highly mobile without animal or mecahnical transportation.
  • Without technology, it is hard for food-foragers to produce more subsistence for their culture.

  Disadvantages of Pastoralists:

  • Pastoral people cannot establish a permanent establishment because they must follow or move their herds to other places to feed them.
  • Trips to other places can be dangerous because of weather and long distance travels.
  • These type of cultures also can not have long friendships because they are always moving from one place to another.
  • It is hard to become accustomed to different environments and weather.

  Disadvantages of Horticulturists:

  • This pattern of subsistence provides less product and reduced soil quality because they do not use fertilizer.
  • Does not provide enough nutrition considering if these people do not hunt or fish.
  • Food plants can be destroyed easily by insects or pests without using the technique of slash-and-burn cultivation.
 Disadvantages of Agriculturists:

  • Some of these subsistence environments can experience air and water pollution from fuel burning machines.
  • Agriculturists can deplete important natural resources such as drinking water, natural gas, and oil by using highly technological machines.
  • By using tools and machines, agriculturists are not very physically fit.
  • Mass food production can result in using GMO's and harmful pesticides that are harmful to the consumers' health.

3. The subsistence pattern that provides the healthier diet are the food producers because not all hunter-gatherer cultures are populated enough to have highly important animal proteins. On the other hand, agriculturists have developed a strategy that can produce large amounts of protein and cultivate crops that contain nutrients that are beneficial to people's health. Also, agriculture outweighs the advantages of hunter-gatherers because it is more reliable, convenient for consumers and simply easier for the population of people.

4. I think that early human populations 12,000 years ago made the transition into agriculture because the growth of population and the decline in resources. People had to find ways to advance in the productivity of crops and meat to survive and grow as a civilization. "Over time, this achievement transformed cultural systems, with humans developing new economic arrangements, social structures, and ideological patterns based on plant cultivation, breeding and raising animals, or a mixture of both"(pg.170). Therefore, the transition to agriculture was necessary and part of evolution.

Part 2:

 1. There is a direct relationship between the availability of surplus and the ability to trade. The actual ability to trade completely relies on how much the availability to trade there is. When something is available and in great amounts, or bulk then it can be traded and surplus is great. In certain societies, "people's wants and needs are maintained at levels that can be fully and continuously satisfied, and without repressing or exploiting fellow human beings."(pg.186). When a something is available in bulk to trade, then it will be traded and when it is not, little to no trade occurs. For example, when  a product is available in bulk to trade, then it is possible that it will be traded. When it is not in surplus or bulk than little to no trade will occur.

 2. The social benefits of of trade result in the way people make money and gain a living for their themselves and their family. It also helps the economy because it provides jobs for many people and helps them to exchange money for food or exchange food for money. It is a win win situation and also because it builds relationships between people and different cultures, which in turn, helps us develop better as a society. As a result, the social benefits of trade help the economy grow and people learn about different cultures, trade, and business relationships.


  3.  The first social negative of the development of trade is that there is so much competition these days and that some of the people in certain third world countries can be left behind. These type of cultures that live these countries might lose the trade because they get beat out by other traders that sell the same product. This can be devastating to some third world countries because they depend on these trades i  order to survive and develop a more civilized country.

  4.   The relationship between the development of agriculture and development of trade is that one relies on the other completely. For example, farmers that grow vegetables or fruit that are only available at certain seasons, and therefore there is a surplus of that fruit or vegetable that can be sold to consumers all over the world. Considering that I am a human that existed over 12,000 years ago, the relationship between agriculture trade would be important mostly because one group of people would trade to another and so fourth. This would result in social relationships and the gain of subsistence for more people.

Works Cited:

  1. William A.Haviland - William A.Haviland - Wadsworth/Thomson Learning - 2008
  3. › ... › Agriculture, Fishing, and Food




  1. You provided a lot of information and I'm trying to address as many points as possible... hence the long comments:

    A very thorough discussion of the costs and benefits of the two types of subsistence patterns, with a few comments.

    Some of the points you raise are not necessarily benefits but just define that pattern of subsistence. E.g., "These type of providers live in small populations and work together as a team." That describes how hunter-gather population worked, but doesn't identify how this is an advantage over agriculture.

    "Agriculturists grow food like grains, fruits and vegetables and therefore get more nutrition."

    More nutrition or just more volume of food? Remember that agriculture didn't produce healthier, more diverse diet. It just produced a higher volume of food.

    "This type of culture has technology to help with massive food production."

    We are talking about the rise of agriculture. There was no technology to help with this at that time. It had to be invented.

    "They can sell their surplus for cash or gold."

    Same point as above. During the rise of agriculture, we aren't dealing with cash societies. This is purely trade.

    With regard to the costs of each subsistence methods:

    For the costs on hunting and gathering, you are just identifying the benefits of agriculture and then saying that hunting and gathering doesn't have those benefits. That doesn't really identify the costs of hunting and gathering, since humans survived quite well on that form of subsistence for millions of years. They didn't actually have a shortage of food. They would just move to where the food was, usually in a pattern of seasonal migration. Yes, their populations are kept small, but is this really a bad thing? They were actually more mobile as they had very little to carry and had extensive migratory patterns. The didn't have technology because they didn't need it.

    The primary disadvantage to hunting and gathering was that they were more susceptible to environmental impacts on their food supplies. They didn't have a surplus for times when resources were low.

    Good discussion on horticultural and pastoral costs.

    Your section on agricultural costs focuses entirely on machine agricultural. Understand that you don't need machines to be agriculturalists, and because we are talking about why hunter-gatherers transitioned to agriculture, we are focusing on a time when there was no technology, much less machinery.

    Most disadvantages for agriculture are related to reduced nutrition in the diet, with lower diversity and being more dependent upon a smaller number of crops. If one of those crops are wiped out by storm or disease, they risk starvation. They are also more sedentary, lowering health, increasing body fat, and increasing dental disease.

    "The subsistence pattern that provides the healthier diet are the food producers because not all hunter-gatherer cultures are populated enough to have highly important animal proteins."

    Again, hunter gatherers existed for millions of years before the rise of agriculture. Could they have done that if their diet was not sufficient in protein content? Did you review the article on this topic in the assignment folder? Which subsistence pattern had lower diversity, produced a more sedentary population and saw a rise in dental disease?

    1. "I think that early human populations 12,000 years ago made the transition into agriculture because the growth of population and the decline in resources."

      First, the causal relationship is backward. Agriculture didn't arise in response to the rise in populations. Populations increased because of the rise of agriculture. Second, there is no indication that hunter gatherer societies where facing a reduction in resources. In fact, hunter gatherer societies only started disappearing because they were eventually crowded out by agricultural societies, not because of loss of resources.

      For this question, you really needed to put yourself into the place of those early populations. Imagine you are a hunter-gatherer who notices that the place where you threw seeds from plants you ate grew into new plants. Would you think "hmm... This would help me support large populations and form complex societies"? Or would you think, "If I can plant my food, I will know where it is and I won't have to wander everywhere to locate it"?

      For part 2:

      "The actual ability to trade completely relies on how much the availability to trade there is."

      Perfect. Well stated.

      Okay on your section on the benefits of trade, but remember that we are looking at the early rise of trade, not trade today.

      "The first social negative of the development of trade is that there is so much competition these days and that some of the people in certain third world countries can be left behind."

      We aren't talking about "these days". When trade first arose, what was the cost of trade? What negative impacts did it have on populations? In addition to allowing specialization, and the spread of new ideas and tools, what bad things did it bring? How about the spread of disease and the rise of conflict between growing, interacting populations?

      Okay on your final point, but it doesn't clearly address the question, as it relates to the quote in the first section. Would trade have been possible without the rise of agriculture? Remember that agriculture allowed for the production of surplus food. Think about the natural progression from food surplus, to trade of the excess food, to the rise of specialization, with some raising food while others develop other skills, such as creating tools, and then those who make food exchange that food with those who make tools. Presto! Trade!

      Make sure you don't get locked into modern day thinking. Step outside your own experiences and try to put yourself in the shoes (so to speak) of the populations we are discussing, in this case humans of 12,000 years ago.