The Farming Revolution
 
Farming changed how humans live. It began around 12,000 years ago. 
 
Before farming, humans traditionally were hunter-gatherers. This means they always searched for food. They moved their homes around constantly. 
 
After farming began they had a more steady food supply. This allowed people to stay in one place.  
 
Soon, cities and civilizations grew. Plants and animals could now be farmed to meet more people's needs. The world's population rocketed. Ten thousand years ago the world had about five million people. Today, there are more than seven billion people.
 
There wasn't just one reason why people tried farming. It happened in different parts of the world. Some early evidence of farming exists in the Fertile Crescent area of the Middle East. This includes areas we know today as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, and Turkey. There, the climate was changing. The last ice age had just ended.
 
Perhaps better weather conditions made it easier to farm certain plants. 
 
 
Humans first started growing wild crops, including wheat, barley, and peas in the Middle East. This happened around 9,000 years ago. Figs, a kind of fruit, were grown even earlier. They were probably planted about 11,300 years ago. 
 
Slowly, humans tried farming at home. There is proof of this in ancient villages. Old homes were found with stones used to grind up grain. 
 
Rice was grown in eastern China. This happened around 6,000 B.C.E.
 
In Mexico, squash was farmed around 10,000 years ago. Corn, also known as maize, came later. 
 
Maize first began as a grass-like plant. At some point, the plant had a change in its genes. This made it look like the corn that we know today.
 
Genes are made up of tiny segments of DNA. DNA is the building block of life. It tells a person's body how to learn and grow. Genes are passed from parents to children.
 
Mutations are changes that happen in DNA. These changes can be passed from parents to children. Gene mutations can also happen to a living thing during its life.
 
More people began to grow the mutated maize. Maize-like plants were probably grown about 9,000 years ago. The first corn was grown around 5,500 years ago. 
 
Corn reached North America about 5,000 years ago. This is also when potato growing started. It began in the mountains of South America.
 
Farmed Animals
 
Cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs were soon farmed, too. This happened about 13,000 to 10,000 years ago.
 
Animal farming started in the Fertile Crescent. Farming soon spread further west into Europe. Studies show that goats and other animals came, too.
 
Before this, people could not drink cow milk. There is a natural chemical in milk called lactose. The human body could not digest it. 
 
Then, something changed during the spread of farming. A mutation in human genes occurred. People became able to drink lactose without problems.
 
Milk can be healthy for the body. More people were drinking it. The people that could tolerate lactose passed on their genes to their children. 
 
Today, many Europeans have the milk-drinking gene. This proves most of them have cow farmers as ancestors.
 
The Development of Agriculture

Farming is a worldwide industry, and many immigrants carry their agricultural professions with them into their new homes, like this Polish farmer who immigrated to the United States in 1911 and established a dairy farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts. 

Noun

the art and science of cultivating land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).

annual plant
Noun

plant with a life cycle of no more than one year, and often much less.

barley
Noun

grass cultivated as a grain.

cereal
Noun

type of grain, including wheat.

city
Noun

large settlement with a high population density.

Noun

complex way of life that developed as humans began to develop urban settlements.

Noun

agricultural produce.

cultivate
Verb

to encourage the growth of something through work and attention.

Noun

the process of adapting wild plants or animals for human use.

dramatic
Adjective

very expressive or emotional.

evolution
Noun

change in heritable traits of a population over time.

farm
Noun

land cultivated for crops, livestock, or both.

Noun

region extending from the eastern Mediterranean coast through Southwest Asia to the Persian Gulf.

fig
Noun

fruit and tree native to Asia.

genetic mutation
Noun

change to the genetic structure of an organism.

harvest
Noun

the gathering and collection of crops, including both plants and animals.

hunter-gatherer
Noun

person who gets food by using a combination of hunting, fishing, and foraging.

livestock
noun, plural noun

animals raised for sale and profit.

maize
Noun

corn.

migrate
Verb

to move from one place or activity to another.

millet
noun, adjective

a type of grain.

Near East
Noun

imprecise term for countries in southwestern Asia, sometimes including Egypt.

Neolithic
Noun

(~9000 B.C.E. to ~2000 B.C.E.) last phase of the Stone Age, following the Mesolithic.

nomadic
Adjective

having to do with a way of life lacking permanent settlement.

permanent
Adjective

constant or lasting forever.

prehistoric
Adjective

period of time that occurred before the invention of written records.

reliable
Adjective

dependable or consistent.

rice paddy
Noun

rice field.

seasonal
Adjective

likely to change with the seasons.

settlement
Noun

community or village.

society
Noun

large community, linked through similarities or relationships.

Stone Age
Noun

prehistoric period where human ancestors made and used stone tools, lasting from roughly 2.5 million years ago to 7000 BCE.

transition
Noun

movement from one position to another.

wheat
Noun

most widely grown cereal in the world.