Since the time people lived on earth, most of them had the wildest dream of having a good life in a wonderful world close to utopia. What is utopia? Why do people like it? Utopia, which means a perfect world, community or society, is a book which describes a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The island is said to be without war, law, poverty, and misery, and the people of the island have equality among themselves, pacifism, and happiness. In The Ohlone Way, a book written by Malcolm Margolin in 1978, he described the appearance of San Francisco Bay Area about 6000 years ago.
Ohlone, who is the first human who migrated from Asia many centuries ago, settled and inhabited the richest natural wildlife refuge in North America. There were only over 10, 000 people who were said to be muscular and vigorous; they divided themselves into 40 different tribelets. Each tribelet has its own chief, language and rules. These 10,000 people were called Indians, whose lives were peaceful and happy, like those people who lived in Utopia. During the Stone Age, people’s eating style was very simple. Their source of food all came from the natural world such as acorns, insects, beers, rabbit, fish, and most animals.
In comparison with the modern society’s eating style, their eating style was better for the ecosystem in many ways. Ohlone described that during the Stone Age, wildlife and forests were extremely rich and consisted of countless natural resources that provided ample and regular food for the Indians. Beside the other food sources, acorns were the most important and basic meal for the Indians the whole year round. “Boy climbed the trees to shake the branches, men knocked the acorns down with long sticks, and everywhere there were people stooping and picking over the acorns on the ground” (Margolin, 1978, p.
42). An incalculable amount of oak trees stood and spread around the hills and valleys. In the bay area, trees such as black oaks and tanbark oaks grew. Trees grew many sweet and big acorns because of the rich soil and great weather. When all the acorns mellowed from the trees, the Indians would get together to pick up the acorns as much as they could. When picking the acorns, an Indian family would gather 1000 to 2000 pounds of acorns to produce sufficient supply of food for the whole year. They used acorns to make many kinds of food such as a soup, porridge, bread that were delicious and healthy.
The acorn harvest, which was the biggest event of the year, was highly anticipated of by Indians. They did not adopt agriculture as their food source because of the richness of other resources. Moreover, under their ancient eating culture, the Indians accepted most animals as their food except those animals related to their religion. “They ate insects, lizards, snakes, moles, mice, gophers, ground squirrels, wood rats, quail, doves. Song birds, rabbits, raccoons, foxes, deer, elk, antelopes-indeed, the wildest conceivable variety of both small and large game” (Margolin, 1978, p.
24). Their ingestion of insects was surprising since it is a digusting thing among modern people. However, Indians enjoyed eating insects which consisted of the richest proteins. Insects such as grasshoppers were described as their common food and the yellow jacket grub was their favorite food. They were not fussy eaters for they eat whatever they catch. Their eating habit did not harm the ecosystem and it preserved the natural world. In addition, during the Stone Age, animals were easy to see and hunt because a lot of different animals lived in the Bay Area.
They did not hide in hiding places. “It is impossible to estimate how many thousands of bears might have lived in the Bay Area at the time of the Ohlones” (Margolin, 1978, p. 7). Besides the bears, there were many other animals, both large and small, who lived in the Bay Area. In hunting different kinds of large animals, Indians used a variety of hunting skills bears, deers, elks, or antelopes. Indian hunters were very proud of themselves whenever they succeeded in hunting a large animal, which they brought back to their tribelet to be shared within their group.
The animal’s skin was given to the hunter’s wife for her to make a beautiful cloth. When everybody got their share of meat, some of the meat left were hung to dry for later use. Then, bones were used as tools such as awls, wedges, or tule saws. No part of the animal was wasted. Furthermore, rabbits were also countless in the Bay Area, so they were commonly hunted by Indians. “Rabbits (jackrabbits, cottontails, and brush rabbits) were an Ohlone mainstay, and were caught in great numbers” (Margolin, 1978, p. 25). In hunting rabbits, Indians used their sticks, snares, slings, and bows and arrows .
They greatly enjoyed the tastiness of rabbit meat. Rabbits spread around and were not scared of humans, so at times, Indians caught rabbits using their bare hands. After catching rabbits, they used the rabbits’ skin to make blankets or clothes and they used rabbits’ meat for food. The sea was also an important source of food for the Indians. In the Bay Area, water was abundant and contained a variety of seafoods. “From so much water the Ohlones gathered an immense harvest of fish and waterfowl” (Margolin, 1978, p. 36).
During the summer, they would use nets, harpoons, weirs and so on to fish salmon, sturgeon, and mussels. During the fall and spring, they would use nets or decoys to collect ducks and geese. And during the winter, they would go to beaches to collect shellfish, clams, oysters, abalones. The shellfish was available the whole year. Living in the Bay Area, Ohlone had rich natural resources, which were good enough for their life. They did not need to grow plants or domestic animals for use in their family. What they only needed was to collect food from nature.
On the other hand, one should look upon the modern society. Due to the expanding production of industrial agriculture today, people eat a lot of toxic foods containing chemical substances from pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. Subsequently, the nutrients needed by plants were absorbed by wild grass. Farmers growing various kinds of plants use methods to shorten the growth period of vegetables and crops. This process reduces the food prices but it harms the body and environment. Also, during crop plantation, farmers clear the land through burning.
A large amount of carbon dioxide goes into the air, causing pollution. This process contributes to global warming that can drastically change the world’s climate. The environment is being damaged more and more as time passes by. Another matter to consider is the farm industry. People who are involved in this industry keep animals such as pigs, cows and chickens confined. There is not enough space for animals to move. Animals live, eat, defecate and sleep in that tiny space for life. At times, these animal were not taken care of properly.
There are some instances when these animals bring diseases to humans due to their waste products being drained in bodies of water and their breeding places which are not properly cleaned. Though animal foods were developed to make them more healthy, its sole purpose is for food processing. When comparison is made between the two mentioned period of society, it can be said that people from the Stone Age illustrate a more environment-friendly way of living and eating, while modern people should be more concern in the environment and their eating styles.
People have to utilize natural resources more such as solar power, wind power, biomass energy, and geothermal energy. If this is not done, many lives might be destroyed when nature strikes back, for example, many cities nearby oceans would be flooded because of the melting of the poles. The next generations would suffer the consequences of the modern world’s actions and they would have less space to use. References Margolin,M. (1978) The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area. Berkeley, Ca: Heyday Books.
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