Figure 10-5

Aché male hunting acquisition.

Fruit collection, in contrast, is the least skill-intensive activity in human foraging. Fruits are also the most important food acquired by children. In fact, most variability in children's food acquisition, both within and among hunting and gathering societies, appears to be due to access to fruits. In an insightful series of papers comparing !Kung and Hadza foraging (Blurton Jones, 1993; Blurton Jones et al., 1989, 1994a, b, and in press), the authors show that foraging return rates and especially access to fruits close to camp sites are the critical determinant of the higher food acquisition by Hadza children. Not only are there more fruits close to Hadza camps than close to !Kung camps but also the environment near !Kung camps is more dangerous for children due to poor long-range visibility (ibid.). In addition, Hadza children acquire more food and spend more time foraging during seasons when fruits are abundant (Blurton Jones, 1993; Blurton Jones et al., in press; Hawkes et al., 1996). In fact, Hadza children can provide as much as 50 percent of their total calories when fruits are in season (Blurton Jones et al., 1989). Similarly, one area (Bate) where !Kung children were reported to forage more often did have fruit and nut trees nearby (Blurton Jones et al., 1994b:205). Fruits also explain dramatic variation in Aché children's foraging. When fruits are in season, food production increases more than fivefold for children under age 14 (Figure 10-6). For older teens who are stronger and more skilled, the effect is less dramatic.

The effects of ease of acquisition also apply to meat. When meat resources are collectable, children can also be very productive. For example, among the Machiguenga and Piro, streams are frequently dammed and poisoned with roots.

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