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Gaining food is always a major activity for human beings.  Human beings have been trying to discover a variety of food and develop new production mode in its long history of fighting with nature.  In the end, a dietary structure of making cereals as a staple food, fishing and hunting as supplementary food has been formed gradually.  A book called Ancient Society is written by lewis Henry Morgan is a key example of 19th-century evolutionism applied to society.  Morgan provides the foundation for the unilinear path towards full or legitimate cultural significance.  In this book, Morgan assumed that human society had evolved through a series of stages.  In addition, the type of food and its production indicate the process of human evolution is shown in this book.  On the other hand, Roy Rappaport proposes in his article “Ritual Regulation of Environmental Relations Among a New Guinea People” that the cultural patterns of the Tsembaga though the perspective of cultural ecology which pig husbandry are a “mechanism to regulate human population growth and prevent the degradation of the Tsembaga ecosystem.”  He further provides detailed information about the purpose of eating pork not only for nourishment, but also can restore the ratio of pigs to humans and prevent land degradation.

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The Type of Food in Relate to their Theories

Morgan asserted that type of food indicates the process of human evolution; it corresponds with every evolutionary stage which he called savagery, barbarism and civilization. Starting with natural subsistence upon nuts and fruits, this natural subsistence indicated people who under tropical or subtropical climate have commenced their existence. (Morgan 42)  During this period, people used to live in forests like other animals.  In the stage of higher savagery, fishing can induce evolutionary changes in human’s life that mankind became independent of climate and of locality.  Also, when people search for fish by following the shores of seas, lakes and rivers, people spread themselves over the greater portion of the earth’s surface. During the savagery era, humankind’s way of living was quite primitive, because there was no scientific technology.   According to Morgan, people discovered farinaceous subsistence through cultivation of cereals and plants when they were in lower Status of Barbarism.  Domestication of animals in this stage not only gave rise to horticultural foods such as peas, turnip, beans, parsnip, squash, beet, melon and many others, it also enabled the thrifty and industrious to secure for themselves a permanent supply of animal food, including milk; the healthful and invigorating influence to anyone, especially upon children.  In this book, Morgan assumes that the changing of food gradually introduced a new mode of life to early human; mankind continued to evolve and become more civilized.  Moreover, as people moved towards unilinear evolution, there was a substantial increase in a variety of food types.

From Roy Rappaport’s perspective of cultural ecology, he considered the question of how culture and environment may interact among the Tsembaga of New Guinea. The reason they choose pig as their food is base on three reasons: remain a good health, to restore the ratio of pigs to humans and maintain ecosystem integrity in Tsembaga.  First, he considered eating pork can provided peoplewith a new burst of energy, because the ingestion of large amounts of sodium from pork was beneficial for warriors during fighting. (Rappaport, 23)  Second, Rappaport asserted that the human force and energy required to raise pigs might be a way of regulating human population growth.  Small numbers of pigs are easy to keep and require, but problems arise when the pig herd grows large.  Whenever the pigs invade other’s gardens, the large pig populations greatly increase the chances of an accidental enemy invasion which would measure the right amount of human population.  From this perspective, pigs serve as a mechanism to regulate human population.  Third, in Tsembaga, the pigs are seldom eaten; instead, they keep residential areas clean by consuming garbage, and they help prepare the soil for planting by rooting in it.  Therefore, pig can help people to maintain ecosystem integrity.  As a result, people in Tsembaga would like to choose pig as their important food and tool to regulate human relationship and maintain the ecosystem. Rappaport indicated the interaction between culture (eating pork) and environment (protecting the ecosystem) in Tsembaga as the environment affects the development of culture traits.

In compare these two theories, we can see the similarities and differences between them.  The similarity is that they both believe that all things were linked to one another in a chain, and all links were necessary.  On the one hand, Morgan considers the human traits and conditions by means of the type of food that prevailed under the different stages and how later human characteristics evolved out of the earlier one.  Morgan introduced a link between the social progress and diet progress.  He views the diet progress as a force behind social progress.  On the other hand, Rappaport states human populations have link with and impact upon the land, plant, and animal species in their living conditions and these elements of their environment have reciprocal impacts on humans.  

There are some differences between their approaches.  Rappaport’s ecosystem approach focuses on the systematic study of ritual, religion and ecology; this study is characterized as synchronic.  However, Morgan’s evolutionary theory associating the changes of evolution with a progressive view of social change.  In relate to the diet aspect of societies, Morgan indicated a human evolve from eating nuts and fruits to developing the way of domestication of animals and horticultural foods.  Human evolution contributes the development of the type of food.

The Production of Foods in Relate to their Theories

In lower barbarism, according to Morgan, utilizing arable land and tools are the symbol that human “have gained an absolute control over the production of foods; which at the outset they did not possess above other animals.” On the other hand, land is an essential input for foods production. Thus, mankind utilizing arable land is one of the backbones of human evolution and it provides substantial social benefits to human society.  Furthermore, Morgan asserts that human utilizing arable land for production of horticultural food, which was particularly used for feeding domesticated animals rather than for human consumption, is necessary and essential for social progress. For example, after people utilizing arable land, they later started domestication of animals. The domestication of animals gradually introduced a new mode of human life because of the introduction of production technique by using the animal power. Therefore, the production of foods with the enlargement of the sources of subsistence also marks the great epochs of human progress.  On the other hand, tool making and tool using in the process of food production in the broad sense are an extrasomatic adaptation of humans a means by which humans evolved behaviorally without adapting physically.  Morgan points out that tool use is a predominant aspect of present human life, implying that the adaptive advantage of tools has been greater to humans than to other animals. 

From Rappaport’s ecosystem approach, he states how pigs used as a cultivating machines in food production.  He mentions that “pigs keep residential areas free of garbage and human feces.”  The Tsembaga usually permit pigs to enter their gardens on and a half to two years after planting.  From the time the cropping is discontinued and human let the pigs enter into garden, so the well-established trees are relatively impervious to damage by the pigs.  In this case, the destruction caused by pigs will provide some competition for the established trees.  Rappaport raised a good point here:  the animal is not a regular source of human food; pigs must be appreciated in manifold ways like a hedge against uncertainty, disposers of garbage and other wastes.  He explains the impressive function of pig among the Tsembaga people of New Guinea as a societal mechanism that developing subfield of cultural ecology in how pig influences human ecosystem and how this ecosystem could be influencing. 

Concerning the production of food, both works agree on certain aspects. Morgan clearly states how human evolution closely relates to the type of food and method of obtaining the food. Initially, humans gathered nuts from forests but later started fishing. In the lower Barbarism period, humans used the arable land to cultivate plants and the domesticated animals to help improve food production. Rappaport on the other hand states that humans cultivated land as a source of food. It is further documented that the Tsembaga people of New Guinea also used animals, pigs, to help in production of food. The pigs were allowed into farmland to not only eat garbage but also prepare land in readiness for the following plantation. Although both agree on cultivation as a source of food, Morgan’s work brings out the utilization of tools in the farmlands, horticultural practices and domestication of animals. This is a very organized system hence shows how civilized humans are. In contrast, Rappaport’s work emphasizes on the use of pigs as a source of food and a means to prepare soil although in a disorganized manner. This is seen when pigs are allowed to wander in the farmland.


In respect to the two works considered, it is clearly evident that food has played a great deal in the existence and survival of human. While out to gain food, man has advanced in the social aspect as well. This dynamic relationship between human and the environment is well illustrated in Morgan’s work. It is brought out that the type of food has had an impact on the human evolution: Nuts was the main source of food during savagery and later fishing, cereals cultivated during Barbarism and Civilization resulted from the changes in the type of food and its mode of acquisition. In addition, Rappaport ‘s work shows the synchronic study of religion, ritual and ecology with the focus on the role played by pig in the lives of the Tsembaga people of New Guinea. Both works have their similarities and differences but it all comes down to how much humans have evolved with their quest for food.

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