We are still part of nature. But with that the discussion about nature is closed once and for all. Here it’s about cultural achievements. About 11,500 years ago, we assumed - step by step - that it might be wiser to grow food ourselves. From the initial 50.000 m² that a person needed to feed himself sufficiently before the Neolithic, we now need 2.300 m² per caput.
It is a fact that by observing and understanding seasons, temperature fluctuations, changing lighting conditions, the related succession of cultures and plant growth as well as the behaviour of wild animals, we copied, influenced, and changed parts of natural processes by producing thousands of cultivars of fruit, vegetables, grains and animals, nature has never seen before.
The Neolithic revolution can also be viewed dialectically. Regardless of whether we domesticated the wheat, or it domesticated us, it is an ambivalent success story that began for us back then. As hunter-gatherers, we had a far more diverse food basket until the 20th century. Primal wheat was just one of them. It is an extremely demanding wild grass species. Of all plants, it was the one we pounced on. The list of requirements for a happy and high-yielding wheat stalk is long, from extensive solar radiation to the right composition or ratio of water and nutrients. The latter should by no means be shared with other plants. And if there are too many stones in the soil, the expected harvest, which is essential for survival - once a year - is considerably impaired.
An incredibly large amount of work has thus been imposed on us by the transition from hunter-gatherer. Watering, weeding, tilling the soil, stooping, sweating, bending, pawing, crawling. An incredibly arduous physical activity the sapiens’ body is not designed for. Not with the happy foresight of a bountiful supply for the meagre winter months ahead, but all in daily worry and psychological tension about it, comparable to the moment of the rolling ball on the roulette table.
Computing systems, language, administration, storage facilities, building typologies, legal systems and jurisdictions had to be co-developed in parallel, as what had been laboriously and sometimes agonisingly acquired had to be managed, defended, and distributed. Wheat has spread over an area equivalent to Algeria.
Farm animal husbandry did not begin with the stable, but with the protection of herds from predators other than humans and certainly from humans of other tribes, with the removal of recalcitrant, weaker, or older individuals. Whether they became tame because we intervened in evolution through selection or by being fed by us on a daily basis is irrelevant - both hypotheses are convincing. To feed all our farm animals today we need an area equivalent to two Australias. They represent 95% of the total mass of all mammals living in the world.