So sedentism meant poorer diets, more illness, lots of toothache and gum disease, and earlier deaths. What is truly extraordinary is that these are all still factors in our lives today. Out of the thirty thousand types of edible plant thought to exist on earth, just eleven – corn, rice, wheat, potatoes, cassava, sorghum, millet, beans, barley, rye and oats – account for 93 per cent of all that humans eat, and every one of them was first cultivated by our Neolithic ancestors. Exactly the same is true of husbandry. The animals we raise for food today are not eaten because they are notably delectable or nutritious or a pleasure to be around, but because they were the ones first domesticated in the stone age.
Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life, 2010