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subsistence strategy

-the pattern for obtaining one's food (growing, raising, trading, shopping)
-every society, if it is to survive, must develop systems of production, distribution, and consumption (economic organization)
-the success of various food-getting strategies depends on the interaction between a society's technology and its environment; environments influence (set broad limits on possibilities) rather than determine food-getting practices (which can overlap)
-the level of technology that any society has at its disposal is critical to adapting and using the environment

*Getting food requires:
1. a physical and social (laws, customs) environment
2. specific food-getting tech
3. economic organization of society
-make adjustments as environment permits (Incas developed political system to control different ecological areas)

cultural ecology

-how humans adapt/adjust to their natural environments
-two ways: cultural (technological solutions) and biological

*though lacking high levels of tech, many small-scale societies have made successful adaptations to their natural environments

carrying capacity

-the maximum number of people a given society can support, given the available resources; permanent damage to the environment results if a culture exceeds its ______ ______ (over population -> environmental damage -> ways to reduce/control population?? + susceptible to natural catastrophes)
-ratio of the number of humans in an environment to the max availability of resources given a specific tech level and organization effort

hunting and gathering

(food collecting, foraging)
-a form of subsistence that depends on a combination of hunting, fishing, and gathering wild foods found in the natural environment
-oldest form of food-getting
-compared to other societies, this tends to have low-density populations, are nomadic/seminomadic, live in small social groups, and occupy remote marginally useful areas of the world (small-scale, un-specialized, egalitarian, and decentralized)

neolithic revolution

-a stage in human cultural evolution (beginning around 10,000 years ago) characterized by the gradual transition from hunting and gathering to the domestication of plants and animals (horticulture and pastoralism/animal husbandry)

Changes after this:
-increase in population
-sedentary societies
-greater division of labor
-decease in overall health

Why decrease in health?
-foragers had more balanced diets
-risk of malnutrition if crops failed
-increase in population = increase in contact = increase in spread of disease

food-producing societies

-after the neolithic revolution, shift to food production was a response to certain environmental or demographic conditions (variations in rainfall or population pressure)
-resulted in feeding an increasing number of people who could no longer be sustained by h/g alone
-may also have met desire to stay in one place rather than migrating on a seasonal/as-needed basis
-produced first population explosion
-increased yields may have allowed farmers to store more food for times of scarcity, trade with others, and enable others to specialize in non-food-producing activities
-inventions resulted from an increase in labor specialization, which led to the second revolution: emergence of civilization
-led to a decline in overall health, life expectancy dropped


-small-scale crop cultivation characterized by the use of simple technology and the absence of irrigation
-subsistence / small-scale agriculture
-produces low yields for home consumption with little surplus

slash and burn method

(shifting / swidden cultivation)
-a form of plant cultivation in which seeds are planted in fertile soil prepared by cutting and burning natural growth; relatively short periods of cultivation are followed by long fallow periods


-a food-getting strategy based on animal husbandry
-found in regions of the world that are generally unsuited for agriculture
-keeping domesticated livestock as a source of food
-these people are most often nomadic and have regular contact with farmers as a way of supplementing their diet


-the movement pattern of pastoralists in which some of the men move livestock seasonably


-the movement pattern of pastoralists that involves the periodic migration of human populations in search of food or pasture for livestock
-the migration of the whole village

cattle complex

1. cattle were an economic asset with utilitarian purpose
2. social function, symbolic role, important status symbols
3. farmers were attached to their cattle (valued and adorned)

intensive agriculture

(intensive cultivation)
-a form of commodity production that requires intensive working of the land with plows and draft animals and the use of techniques of soil and water control
-relies on large-scale production practices that result in much more food being produced, supporting larger populations
-uses tech such as irrigation, fertilizers, and mechanized equipment to produce more food and support larger populations
-usually associated with permanent settlements, cities, higher levels of labor specialization, and the production of surpluses to be sold or traded in a market
-developed notion of property rights and established permanent settlements
-resulted in the industrialization of farming in the richer nations
-people were liberated to engage in other activities; societies became more stratified
-must devote more hours of hard work to prepare land and more investment in capital


-in food production, relies on technological sources of energy
-a process that results in the economic change from home production of goods to large-scale mechanized factory production

industrial agriculture

-relies on high levels of energy and technology (tractors and combines), inputs, high-yielding seeds, a mobile labor force, and a complex system of markets
-engage in monoculture, the production of a single commodity on vast acreage
-uses more powerful/expensive sources of energy (fossil fuels)

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