For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Food and Human Evolution
How Ancestral Diets Shaped Our Minds and Bodies
  • Berman D. Hudson
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Food and Human Evolution. How Ancestral Diets Shaped Our Minds and Bodies
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Food has played a major role in human evolution. The fact that we stand upright, that we can talk, that we have big brains; even traits such as altruism and a sense of fairness – all of these can be attributed largely to the kinds of food our ancestors ate and how they acquired it.

We now face a modern food-related crisis. This book discusses the history of food and shows how the rise of industrial food production during the 20th century unleashed an epidemic of metabolic disease that now threatens the very future of our species.


About the Author

Berman Hudson develops a rich and multifaceted picture of why we eat what we do, and what effects that has on our minds and bodies. He draws on a thorough knowledge of soil science, agriculture, and food production technology acquired through extensive formal education and broad work experience.

The author holds a doctorate degree in soil science and has more than 25 years of professional experience at various levels of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including local agricultural service centers, regional technical centers, and at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC. During his years with USDA, the author conducted inspections or observed soil survey field operations in 48 of the 50 states. In addition, he traveled to numerous foreign countries, including Ghana, Zimbabwe, Bulgaria, Denmark, and Indonesia, as part of scientific teams.

Dr. Hudson's influential research papers have been cited in more than 1,000 scientific articles in the fields of soil science, agriculture, and geochemistry. His previous book, Our Good Earth: A Natural History of Soil was published by Algora in 2020. His writing is clear, accessible, and enriched with apt insights drawn from the classics of history and world literature.

About the Book

Food has played a major role in human evolution. Food-driven evolution has been a slow, incremental process punctuated by brief episodes of rapid change. One such episode was when our hominid ancestors learned to make stone weapons, enabling...

Food has played a major role in human evolution. Food-driven evolution has been a slow, incremental process punctuated by brief episodes of rapid change. One such episode was when our hominid ancestors learned to make stone weapons, enabling them to kill and butcher large animals. Eating and sharing meat led to our big brains and our “Machiavellian intelligence.”

Another such episode took place about 10,000 years ago, when humanity began to abandon hunting and gathering to take up farming. This resulted in women having children more frequently, leading to exploding population growth. However, the agricultural diet was of low quality, causing most of humanity to become stunted and disease-ridden.

About 100 years ago, another dietary revolution took place as people began to abandon traditional diets in favor of refined industrial foods. The book describes how this came about and warns of the dire consequences. America is being divided into two distinct populations — an obese majority that is subject to metabolic diseases and early death, and a minority that remains largely free of these diseases.

Diet-induced metabolic disease is beginning to pass directly from mothers to their children. Because of this intergenerational amplification, an evolutionary crisis is looming. It appears that humanity is passing through the “eye of an evolutionary needle” for a third time.

This book offers a tantalizing range of information and ideas for readers interested in fields such as human nutrition, anthropology, prehistoric studies, and human evolution. It also will appeal to general readers who wish to learn about food, diet, and human health as viewed from an overtly evolutionary perspective.



Pages 222
Year: 2021
BISAC: SOC002010 SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
BISAC: SCI027000 SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Evolution
BISAC: HEA039160 HEALTH & FITNESS / Diseases / Endocrine System BISAC MED027000 MEDICAL / Endocrinology & Metabolism
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