CHANGES IN DIETARY PATTERN

One of the first consequences of the Neolithic way of life was a radical change in human diet. Whereas the Paleolithic diet was mainly meat-based, it became more and more diversified in the Mesolithic. Now, in the Neolithic, it was based primarily on cereals – wheat and corn in western Asia and Europe, rice in southern and eastern Asia, sorghum and millet in Africa, maize in America. The development of the food producing economies took place in two stages. The first saw some farming and herding of animals and bulk of the diet came from game and wild vegetable foods.

The next stage came about 8000 years ago when more productive cereal grains and cattle, sheep, goats and pigs were completely domesticated. . This created the fully agricultural and stock-raising economy that persisted into historic times, of course in more elaborate forms. The domestication of animals added an entirely new element in the diet: milk and its derivatives. The replacement of a meat diet with a largely vegetable one necessitated the use of salt which became an item of trade. These radical changes in diet had consequences for human metabolism and diseases – areas of research that are being explored.

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