Evolution of Eating Project

Evolution of Eating Project

Project description
Evolution of Eating Project

Food has played a key role in human prehistory & history. Food availability — and decisions about what
to eat & how — have shaped our social identities & our development as Homo sapiens. Given the
centrality of food to human survival, the aim of this paper is to focus your attention on the food-gathering
behaviors & diet of our ancestors in contrast to your foraging & eating practices. More specifically, the
paper requires you to (1) keep a detailed 5-day food diary & (2) compare/contrast your diet with the food
intake of the hominins of 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.

Youll then write a paper on your findings
according to the directions below. Please note that your grade doesnt depend on what you eat but on
following this handouts guidelines.

Part I will be the five-day food diary, which, ideally, will include a weekend day, when you have time to
be more selective about what you eat. The format can be a day-by-day chart or spreadsheet that records
not only EVERYTHING you ate & drank (including all the ingredients in your cereal or pizza, for
example), but where you obtained the food (e.g., supermarket? friends house? ), portion sizes (e.g., large
coke, 3 fried eggs), when you ate it (e.g., early a.m.?), in what setting (e.g., walking on street? in car?)
and whether or not you had dining companions with whom you shared your food. For one meal a
substantial one find out the origins of your food (e.g., where was it grown? how was it processed?
What route did it take to get your plate?) Do this by asking vendors, supermarket or restaurant employees,
restaurant owners, etc. Expect that some will be unhelpful. Document their reactions & write a few
sentences describing their responses to show that youve done this ethnographic part of the project. Note
that ethnography requires that you talk face-to-face with another human.

Part II will be a 4-5 page analysis of the differences between your diet, foraging & eating practices &
what youve learned about earlier hominins diet & eating practices. The first one & a half to two pages
should be a summary, based on recommended readings, class lectures & handouts, of hominin foraging &
eating behaviors. The focus can be on the last 10,000 to 12,000 years, when the Agricultural Revolution
began. Or, you may want to discuss a longer period of pre-history, from the beginnings of an increase in
meat-eating among hominins about 1.8 mya. The next pages should discuss, comparatively, your diet &
dining practices over the 5 days; how you obtained your food & the social settings in which you ate it. It
will also make for a more interesting paper if you report on any culinary traditions that persist in your
family. What type of food did your grandparents/parents prepare & eat 50 or so years ago? Did they (or
do they) grow any of their food? Are your parents/grandparents nostalgic for the foods of their childhoods
or do they prefer the convenience of Safeway, Lucky, Trader Joes and other large stores?

answer these questions: if you needed to walk to find a food source, how far would you have
to go and what would you buy? Is fresh produce available within walking distance? Are there any foods
that you eat that you could never give up? If you feel a strong identification with a particular group, are
there foods that define you as a member of that group? Do you think its unfortunate or a sign of progress
that many of us consume highly-processed foods that can be stored for a year or more and require only
minutes to prepare?


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