"The simple truth is that farming is profoundly unnatural. It has done more to change the world, and has had a greater impact on the environment, than any other human activity. It has led to widespread deforestation, environmental destruction, the displacement of "natural" wildlife, and the transplanting of plants and animals thousands of miles from their original habitats. It involves the genetic modification of plants and animals to create monstrous mutants that do not exist in nature and often cannot survive without human intervention. It overturned the hunter-gatherer way of life that had defined human existence for tens of thousands of years, prompting humans to exchange a varied, leisurely existence of hunting and gathering for lives of drudgery and toil. Agriculture would surely not be allowed if it were invented today. And yet, for all its faults, it is the basis of civilization as we know it. Domesticated plants and animals form the very foundations of the modern world."Why would humans opt for a life of drudgery and toil? If they didn't have to? Standage offers some guesses, but doesn't weigh in with anything definitive. He says that the switch from hunting and gathering to farming "is one of the oldest, most complex, and most important questions in human history," yet the exact cause remains a mystery.
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