How do you get food?  The grocery store?  Restaurants?  Drive-thrus?  Well, what if I took those away?  What if I also removed all of the farms and food storage in the country?  Now how would you get food?  You would have to hunt!  You would have to gather!  You would have to change your entire lifestyle.  Instead of homework, sports, games, and hanging out with your friends, you would have to spend nearly all of your time looking for food.  Ready to try it?  


If you lived over twelve thousand years ago, chances are that you would always be on the move.  Why?  Well, because you would not have farms to grow food, let alone grocery stores or restaurants.  You would be nomadic, meaning you would move around a lot, hunting and gathering to survive.  If you stayed in one place for too long, your tribe would eat all the plants and scare away all the animals, so it's move move move move move.

Are we there yet?


It's not always easy to find food out in the wild.  If you don't believe me, go ahead and go try it.  I'll wait here . . .   You're back?  You look hungry.  One of the hard parts about being a nomad is that the weather changes.  There was often just enough food to keep groups of people alive, and if food could not be found in time or if the river went dry, people could starve.  To keep their friends and family safe, people looked for another way.  Agriculture is farming, by growing crops or raising animals for milk, meat or clothing.  This idea wasn't invented by one tribe who then taught it to others to have it spread around the world.  Instead the idea started up in many locations around the world around the same time, between the years 10,000 and 2,000 B.C.  Seems like a lot of people were tired of being hungry and walking around all the time.

Look, corn! Let'e boil some water. Wait, have we invented fire yet?


Imagine going from a life of always walking to a life of hanging out in the same place all the time.  You may think your feet would get itchy to walk, but there are fields to plow!  There are sheep to herd!  And best of all, instead of everyone you know using the whole day to look for food, there's LOTS OF FOOD TO EAT!  Surplus is when there is more stuff around then can be consumed.  Not only is everyone well fed, but you can also put some extra food away!  Aside from all this food, people also had more time.  Before this happened, everyone's day might have looked like this: walk walk walk gather walk walk hunt walk walk walk walk.

Let's not eat it all right now. We'll store some in here for later.


Look, that man is spending more time making warmer shirts.  That woman is chipping away at that rock to make a tool.  Those people are training to be fighters to scare off anyone who comes in and tries to steal our food.  Doctor, lawyer, cook, farmer: new jobs are popping up all over the place.  Specialization is when people can become very good at just one job, instead of working many different jobs.  With many people specializing in many different things, modern society started to grow.  Do I smell hamburgers?  

Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!


The life of a nomad was filled with walking and hunting and gathering and never staying still.  This all changed with agriculture, the practice of growing crops and raising animals for food and goods.  Staying in the same place and raising plants and animals made a surplus, more food for everyone.  Now people could stop worrying about finding food and start specializing in a trade.  People became doctors and lawyers and tailors and fighters.  Even though it happened slowly over around eight thousand years, the human race went from walking around looking for food to drive-thru fast food . . .  in just a few steps.



References:

History for Kids.  "Ancient and Medieval Farming"  historyforkids.org, 2011.  <http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/economy/farming/>

NeoK12.  "History of Agriculture"  NeoK12, 2013.  <http://www.neok12.com/Agriculture.htm>

Kidspast.  "The Agricultural Revolution"  Kidspast, 2010.  <http://www.kidspast.com/world-history/0022-agricultural-revolution.php>