So Shall you Reap: Farming and Crops in Human Affairs

So Shall You Reap: Farming and Crops in Human Affairs
by Otto T. Solbrig, and Dorothy J. Solbrig

Island Press
C, T, GA *


Order Online


After describing in the first chapter the ways that early humans acquired food, the authors in the next chapter discuss methods by which hunter-gatherers evolved into farmers. Adaptation of rudimentary agricultural practices during prehistoric times are described in the third chapter. Domestication of plants for food and adoption of improved agricultural practices form part of the fourth and fifth chapters respectively. The sixth chapter is devoted to the colonization of Crete by people from Asia Minor and the spread of agricultural practices to Europe, where crop rotation and animal power were adopted. The seventh chapter explains various factors leading to the establishment of medieval farms, which changed agriculture from a subsistence to a market system. Cultivation of sugar cane in Atlantic islands, Brazil, and the Caribbean transformed farming for food into farming for trade and capital accumulation, as detailed in the eighth chapter. The ninth chapter explains ways that farming practices improved in the Americas, which led to the exchange of produce between the Old and New Worlds. In the tenth chapter, the authors point out that productivity rose due to an increase in specialization and the introduction of special technologies and farm machinery, when farmers turned to cultivation of monocultures, which is hard on land resources compared to crop rotation. This led to environmental deterioration and the displacement of people from the land, leading to the development of slums in the Third World. Contemporary farming has transformed the world's landscape and endangered the existence of life on this planet, as related in the last chapter. The authors predict that farmers, especially those in developing countries, need to be more educated to increase worldwide food production by 2% to 3% per annum, as well as to stabilize the world's population. The information cited is well documented, and a bibliography is included. The authors have produced a useful, engaging, and informative overview of environmental concerns. This book will be useful for an undergraduate interdisciplinary course in biology, agriculture, and ecology.

--Reviewed by N. N. Raghuvir in Science Books and Films, 30/7 (August/September 1994), p. 165.