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Discussion of Food Foraging History

Among the strategies for locating food resources, food foraging had been a vital one for the entirety of humankind up until the discovery of farming as an option for keeping the sources of food under control and maintaining the food supply rates consistent. However, even nowadays, foraging remains a vital source of food for small indigenous communities, where people can create foraging bands, namely, units comprised of foraging experts without formal leadership, to collect food (Brown et al. 151). However, despite the similar idea behind the process of foraging, the specifics of it and strategies for it vary from culture to culture, which can be explained by differences in environments and the resource range.

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The unique approaches used within different communities to approach foraging are largely predicated on a combination of food resource types, their availability, and the cultural perceptions of the population in question. For instance, the foraging techniques of the Indians of the American Northwest differ significantly from the Hadza and Kung (Ju-hoansi) since the latter prefer the hunter-gatherer approach, which places them at the “the original affluent societies” level as people that can have enough leisure time, according to Brown et al. (359). In turn, American Northwest Indians preferred sedentary foraging strategies, which were predicated upon their environment and culture, particularly, the fact that they preferred sedentary lifestyle and lived in plank houses (Spradley and McCurdy 70). Therefore, the home range resources were quite sufficient for the specified community.

Similarly, there is a strong divide between how the Indians of the American Northwest and Arctic peoples forage food. Due to the difference in the geographic location and, therefore, the climate, the type of food available to the Arctic peoples requires the use of consistency in their foraging approach. In turn, the American Northwest tribes rely significantly on the seasonal round due to the unavailability of foraging resources in winter and late fall. Moreover, the presence of different foraging techniques was linked to the social hierarchy within the tribes in question. Within the household, which can be defined as the unit including the house and the related resources, a clear hierarchy is needed for the communities where food resources are scarce, and where hunter-gathered approaches are used. Therefore, in the tribes that can adopt a more relaxed framework for collecting food due to the presence of more favorable conditions, flexibility and sexual integration can be observed (Spradley and McCurdy 180). Namely, in the specified type of communities, the roles of men and women are not necessarily fixed and may vary to a certain extent, with significant differences in the use rights, namely, the right to use specific resources.

Carrying capacity is another phenomenon worth addressing as one of the core concepts for characterizing communities. Implying a particular population size that a particular community can reach without reaching a resource crisis, the specified notion represents an important limitation that defines the extent which the production rates within a specific community reach. Overall, maintaining the production and population below the carrying capacity limit is crucial for most communities due to the need to keep the resources available to everyone and ensure that all people receive the required amount of resources and maintain the quality of life that meets their needs fully.

In turn, leadership and the sexual division of labor are much more relaxed, or egalitarian, in hunter-gatherer communities as opposed to other ones, where the labor division is more nuanced. Although hunter-gather communities typically have a headman, namely, a leader, the specified notion is usually shifting within the specified context (Brown et al. 128). In turn, with the emergence of a more elaborate social structure and different classes, use rights and private property concepts also start surfacing, defining the power structures and hierarchies within the society in question. In the specified structures, the notion of generalized reciprocity, or the art of gifting, may become increasingly difficult to achieve due to the uneven dispersion of resources. However, even communities that have shifted to a more complex social hierarchy are still under a threat since they can develop diseases of affluence due to a change in lifestyles.

Works Cited

Brown, Nina, Thomas McIlwraith, and Laura Tubelle de González. Perspectives: An Open Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. Jill Potash, 2020.

Spradley, James P., and David W. McCurdy. Conformity and conflict: Readings in cultural anthropology. Jill Potash, 2012.

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