Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind: serialised in quotes VI. Enslaved by the Agricultural Revolution

The Agricultural Revolution left farmers with lives generally more difficult and less satisfying than those of foragers. Hunter-gatherers spent their time in more stimulating and varied ways, and were less in danger of starvation and disease. The Agricultural Revolution certainly enlarged the sum total of food at the disposal of humankind, but the extra food did not translate into a better diet or more leisure. Rather, it translated into population explosions and pampered elites.

Who was responsible [for the revolution]? Nether kings, nor priests, nor merchants. The culprits were a handful of plant species, including wheat, rice, and potatoes. These plants domesticated Homo sapiens, rather than vice versa.

This is the essence of the Agricultural Revolution: the ability to keep more people alive under worse conditions.

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