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date: 09 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

A group achieves food security when its sustenance requirements are in equilibrium with its sustainable resources, that is, when its habitats, fixed or seasonal, guarantee a nutritionally adequate diet year-round to enough individuals to keep its population constant. By pursuing a mixture of subsistence strategies, the group assures itself that if its primary routine should fail, a secondary routine, or back-up cycle, will be available to take its place. This chapter examines technologies of hunting and gathering, extensive and intensive agriculture, and food preparation perfected in the Americas over thousands of years, with the object of identifying those patterns of material culture and resource management that allowed many Pre-Hispanic peoples to endure periods of food shortage and avoid “state capture,” neither producing a surplus that could be seized nor asking for a handout with strings attached. The same patterns that kept these groups free in the era of native empires would enable their descendants to remain autonomous in the era of overseas empires, on the edges or in the interstices of the Iberian borderlands.

Keywords: Pre-Hispanic Americas, food security, mixed subsistence strategies, hunting and gathering, nutrition, edibles and natural resources, agricultural systems

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