• Smithsonian (map)
  • S. Dillon Ripley Center 1100 Jefferson Dr
  • Washington, DC
  • USA

Approximately 15,000 years ago, our ancestors began to transform the way they acquired food.  Hunting and gathering wild plants and animals gave way to planting crops and animal domestication. The focus on quality, nutrient-dense foods shifted to quantity in food production. Thus, the roots of the modern food industry began forming. Although more centralized systems of food production resulted in population growth and the development of society, humans lost touch with both knowledge of and access to their sources of nutrition.

According to Bill Schindler, over time, our ability to make informed decisions on how to feed ourselves has continued to erode, and our health and the planet have suffered for it.

In this fascinating all-day seminar, Schindler takes us back to the time when humans developed technologies that helped them to seek out nutrient-dense foods. Although a return to the hunter-gatherer way of procuring food is no longer realistic for the entire planet, he believes there are ways of incorporating lessons from our prehistoric diets and foodways into our daily lives that could have a positive impact on our health and the environment. From fermentation to urban foraging, he explains how lessons from the past can be applied to our lives today. 

Schindler is an associate professor of anthropology and archaeology at Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland.  As both an experimental archaeologist and primitive technologist, his research and teaching revolve around prehistoric technologies and foodways. He is also the co-star of the new National Geographic television series, "The Great Human Race." 

At the program’s conclusion, participants are invited to sample a few of the foods discussed during the day.

9:30–10:45 a.m.  Modern Challenges in Our Western Diets

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.  What Our Ancestral Diets Really Looked Like

12:15­–1:30 p.m.  Lunch (participants provide their own)

1:30–2:45 p.m. Food, Technology, and Evolution

3–4:15 p.m.  Practical Foraging: Meaningful Ways To Transform Our Relationship with Food and the Environment