Hunting and Gathering in the Foraging Societies
Prior to living in houses and in large groups, humans used to live a nomadic life. In the ancient ages when humans could not grow their food, they had to depend on wild animals, nuts and roots for nutrition. Long back all the humans lived in small groups as foraging societies. These groups kept moving from here to there in search of food. Hunting and gathering were the primary methods through which these groups obtained their food. Living in groups made hunting easier for them. Even in the 20th century, there were several societies which depended on hunting and gathering for their nutrition. Such societies were called ‘foraging societies’.
The foraging societies did not have a consistent source of food. They would not plant crops, but collected their food from various wild sources. They would gather wild food or hunt for wild animals. Most of their caloric needs were fulfilled by hunting. Meat was their main source of nutrition because of its high protein content. It is because of the relatively high nutritive value of meat that hunting was considered more important than gathering. The foraging societies would keep dogs for pets and their men would go hunting. Large hunts were awaited eagerly. Whenever a major hunt was found, the prize would be distributed among all the camp members and there would be a grand feast. Men searched for large hunts and would go far and wide in its search. They did not always remain available with the society.
Gathering was another important means of food for the foraging society and it was largely the responsibility of the women of the society. As time passed finding large hunts became more and more difficult. These societies had to rely on the other non-meat sources for their food. The sources of meat decreased as the number of wild animals declined and nuts and roots became the main ingredients in their food basket. With passing time, vegetarian sources became the primary part of their diet.
Gathering took precedence over hunting with the decline in population of wild animals. The responsibility of the women in the society also increased. They had to collect most of the food and take care of the children simultaneously. In, these societies the food collection activities also came to define the gender roles. Men had very little to do with food collection or child rearing. They would occasionally go hunting. As the time passed the sources of wild food, both vegetarian and non vegetarian grew scarce. Due to it the number of the foraging societies also reduced as many of them moved to the mainstream society to find a steady source of food and living.