Effects of Evolution, Ecology, and Economy on Human Diet: Insights from Hunter-Gatherers and Other Small-Scale Societies.

Journal Article (Review;Journal Article)

We review the evolutionary origins of the human diet and the effects of ecology economy on the dietary proportion of plants and animals. Humans eat more meat than other apes, a consequence of hunting and gathering, which arose ∼2.5 Mya with the genus Homo . Paleolithic diets likely included a balance of plant and animal foods and would have been remarkably variable across time and space. A plant/animal food balance of 50/50% prevails among contemporary warm-climate hunter-gatherers, but these proportions vary widely. Societies in cold climates, and those that depend more on fishing or pastoralism, tend to eat more meat. Warm-climate foragers, and groups that engage in some farming, tend to eat more plants. We present a case study of the wild food diet of the Hadza, a community of hunter-gatherers in northern Tanzania, whose diet is high in fiber, adequate in protein, and remarkably variable over monthly timescales.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Pontzer, H; Wood, BM

Published Date

  • October 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 41 /

Start / End Page

  • 363 - 385

PubMed ID

  • 34138633

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1545-4312

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0199-9885

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1146/annurev-nutr-111120-105520


  • eng