The yoke of cereals

About 10,000 years ago, cereals like wheat in the Mediterranean, American corn and rice in Asia, synchronized without our knowing how, agreed to launch their evolutionary strategy: ‘What do you think if we domesticate humans?’

Among all the vegetables that inhabited planet Earth, the ancestors of wheat, corn and rice were some of the most defenseless, fragile and poorly adapted species to survive.

In the few months that each plant lived, at most two seasons, it only had one opportunity to be fertilized, produce seeds and throw them on the ground in the hope that they would germinate. Would perennials, herbs, shrubs and long-rooted trees leave them soil and sun to feed and sprout? Wouldn’t your seeds be eaten by insects or birds? Would it rain in time before your dehydration?

With that concern in mind, these cereals kept an eye on everything that was going on around them. And they observed that, like them, in the animal kingdom there was also an unlucky species with little chance of survival.

Humans, bipedal apes, have barely sorted out their carnivorous diet. They had little hunting skill: they weren’t strong, they weren’t fast, they didn’t have sharp claws or fangs. They could not, like other mammals with more stomachs than they, feed on any kind of vegetable. But something caught his attention: in addition to having very deft fingers and an opposable thumb to hold tools, they seemed thoughtful, cunning and insightful beings.

So, about 10,000 years ago, cereals like Mediterranean wheat, American corn, and Asian rice, synchronized without our knowing how, agreed to launch their evolutionary strategy.

cereals, corn, rice, wheat, livestock, humans, civilization, agriculture, sugars, biodiversity

What do you think if we domesticate humans? If we dazzle them with our taste, if they get used to eating us, we will make our lives much easier, we will have more options to survive as a species. They will clear and clear patches of land where our seeds will find no competition. They will gently bury them in furrows and take good care that no one eats them or takes them away. They will water them punctually to ensure they germinate and, in order for them to grow healthy and strong, will weed them as often as necessary. If necessary, they will surround the land to prevent other non-human animals from eating our offspring, and be sure that, although they eat part of it, they will always save seeds to replant us in future seasons.”.

And that’s what they did, like an apple from Eve or Snow White, they incorporated into their seeds substances that enchanted humans with a sweetness that activated pleasure, well-being and addiction centers in their brains. And it happened just as they had thought: the bipeds left behind their patient life of wandering, hunting and gathering to settle beside the grain crops they had to tend through many long hours of sweat and hunched backs.

Together with their small villages, they decided to build stables where they could collect the cattle at night and remove the manure to incorporate it into the land and guarantee the best conditions for the cultivation of cereals. In the secondary plots, they learned to grow other vegetables that, with some meat, complemented their grain-eating diet. And they built altars to worship them.

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They founded civilizations. The god of rice, the father of corn or the sacred bread replaced the old devotion to the earth, the sun, the stars, the rain or the mountains in human rites. Cereals largely achieved their purpose, a symbiosis with humanity that would allow their survival. Humanity, in this peasant life, did not fare badly either.

Humans, who with their blind eyes believed themselves to be the dominators, continued to act as collaborators in the imperialist grain advances. To grow more grain, they cut down forests and thickets across the planet, patterning what, like a mosaic, was a landscape diverse in shapes and colors with monocultures.

As a result, they exterminated a good part of the plant and animal biodiversity that lived there, without understanding the role they played in Nature. They learned to make increasingly efficient tools for plowing the land once or twice a year, not realizing that they were killing all the decaying microbiome that fed it. In fact, thinking they were their enemies, they invented all sorts of poisons to kill these tiny living beings.

They altered the course of rivers and dried up the swamps to bring irrigation to their thirsty lords. They pierced the earthly body with pits to extract the fossilized blood of ancient animals with which to artificially make their lords grow faster and for their lords wield weapons with which to invade more lands for Them. They didn’t even come back when the colonization of cereals caused starvation of much of their own human species.

Grains, however, could not let their human slaves make their own decisions. Thus, when the world production of cereals far exceeded the food needs of humans, before deciding to reduce their production, they launched new strategies.

Let’s show them that if they put cattle in stables and feed them our protein, they’ll get fat sooner and give them more eggs and milk. When it’s nearly impossible to raise more cattle, we’ll encourage them to use us as fuel for their machines. And when they realize that this whole industrialized agricultural model puts the survival of the human species at risk, we will make them believe that everything is to blame for the cattle, and they will surrender again to us, now disguised in the benefits of vegetable protein, soy tofu (a vegetable buddy) or corn burgers”.

Whether from the point of view of humans or cereals, the same thing can be seen: the cereal/human alliance, regardless of the complexity of the relationships that make up life, has monopolized the entire planet for this. So be it?

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