Harvest for Hope

A Guide to Mindful Eating


By Jane Goodall

By Gary McAvoy

By Gail Hudson

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From world-renowned scientist Jane Goodall, as seen in the new National Geographic documentary Jane, comes a provocative look into the ways we can positively impact the world by changing our eating habits.

“One of those rare, truly great books that can change the world.”-John Robbins, author of The Food Revolution The renowned scientist who fundamentally changed the way we view primates and our relationship with the animal kingdom now turns her attention to an incredibly important and deeply personal issue-taking a stand for a more sustainable world. In this provocative and encouraging book, Jane Goodall sounds a clarion call to Western society, urging us to take a hard look at the food we produce and consume-and showing us how easy it is to create positive change.Offering her hopeful, but stirring vision, Goodall argues convincingly that each individual can make a difference. She offers simple strategies each of us can employ to foster a sustainable society. Brilliant, empowering, and irrepressibly optimistic, Harvest for Hope is one of the most crucial works of our age. If we follow Goodall’s sound advice, we just might save ourselves before it’s too late.


Copyright © 2005 by Jane Goodall with Gary McAvoy and Gail Hudson All rights reserved.

The table on page 156 is by Rich Pirog, 2002. "How Far Do Your Fruits and Vegetables Travel?" Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University. From the In-a-Nutshell series "How Far Does Your Food Travel?" from the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture.

The Farm Sanctuary Adopt-a-Turkey Project information on page 113 courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.com

Warner Books

Hachette Book Group, USA

237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at www.hachettebookgroupusa.com.

First eBook Edition: November 2005

ISBN: 978-0-7595-1486-7


This book would never have been started but for Gary McAvoy, who convinced me that such a book was needed, and that my voice should deliver the message. It has involved endless research, talking with people, and, most important, thinking through the issues. And none of this would have been possible without the help and generosity of many people along the way.

I worked to finish the text of this book during my May to June 2005 U.S. tour, and I could not have coped without the help of Mary Lewis and Rob Sassor. Mary must have sent off thousands of e-mails to distant places around the globe, often working late into the night. Rob was traveling with Mary and me, and he drafted much material, followed up leads, and worked tirelessly to help us meet the deadline.

In writing the chapter dealing with genetically modified food, in particular, I sought advice from many people: Tom Griffith-Jones; Lord Peter Melchett; and Dr. Stanley Ewan, who, working with Dr. Arpad Pusztai, provided valuable insights regarding the work with rats and genetically modified potatoes and tomatoes.

Howard Buffett helped me to understand a variety of issues regarding the growing of corn, and Robert Eden of Comte Cathare vineyards in France told me a lot about his organic vineyards. I am thankful to Nancy and Jerome Kohlberg of Cabbage Hill Farm, who shared their insights on organic farming. And I am grateful to Shadowhawk and his son Washo for sharing their beautiful story with us.

Katie Faulkner helped us to get a number of photographs from Compassion in World Farming, and Margaret Foster sent some from Advocates for Animals. Lesley Day, of Chimps, Inc., provided photos and valuable research. Gloria Grow of Fauna Foundation also helped with photos. In particular, my good friend Tom Mangelsen not only provided many photos but spent considerable time obtaining images for this book. My deepest gratitude to you, Tom.

Many people worked incredibly hard, sometimes into the night, to select our photographs, get them in the right format, and get permissions. My heartfelt thanks to this team: Jeff Orlowski, Rob Sassor, Mary Lewis, Brent Wenner, and most particularly, Michael Aisner and Nona Gandelman, who worked all through Independence Day. I also want to thank Emily Griffin at Warner Books, who received our images from all over the world.

Judy Waters, my sister, kept my body and soul together with her great (organic) cooking during the time I was able to write at our home, the Birches, in the U.K.

I am grateful for the attention and many helpful suggestions given to the manuscript by Natalie Kaire of Time Warner. Without Gail Hudson, who joined us half way through this project, Harvest for Hope would not have been ready for publication. Not only does Gail work extraordinarily hard, but she has a passion for the subject and she writes like a dream. She has been a delight to work with, I am thrilled she came on board—and I have made a new friend.

I am eternally grateful to my wonderful friends Jonathan Lazear, our agent, and Jamie Raab, our editor at Warner Books. I cannot imagine many agents or publishers who would have shown such patience and understanding. We thank both of you so, so much.

Jane Goodall, July 2005

Many thanks to each of the friends and colleagues who shared their ideas, inspiration, and help in shaping this book: Renee Bell, Marlene Blessing, John Burgess, Hans Cole, Joy Delf, Mike and Virginia Duppenthaler, Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, Deborah Koons Garcia, Kathy Humphrey, Robin Kobaly, Tara Kolden, Laura Krebsbach, Frankie Lappé, Deborah Madison, Dave Miller, John Mullen, Mary Ann Naples, Boanna Owens, Brenda Peterson, Clarice Swanson, Doug Thompson, Peter Vartabedian, Craig Winters, and Sue Conley and Peggy Smith at Cowgirl Creamery.

Gary McAvoy and Gail Hudson, July 2005

Chapter 1

Animals to Us

"In the cosmos there are only eaters and the eaten. Ultimately, all is food."


There is an old English saying, "Manners Makyth Man." In fact, it is food that makyth man. For if we discount our basic physiology and anatomy, and those behaviors inherited through our genes, we truly are what we eat. We cannot survive without food, although certain individuals have claimed that we can. In the second half of the nineteenth century, young fasting girls captured the imagination of people all over Britain, especially one Sarah Jacob, a twelve-year-old who confounded doctors by refusing to eat or drink for two years. She became a tourist attraction, and in the end her parents agreed that a medical team could keep her under surveillance. It did not take long for her condition to deteriorate and soon she was dead. Her father, who had refused to offer her food, was sentenced along with his wife for manslaughter. It was never made clear who had been secretly providing her with sustenance during the previous two years.

More recently, in 1999, Ellen Greve set herself up as a New Age dietary guru who claimed that she had not eaten for five years, surviving instead on invisible crystals in the air. She advocated a twenty-one-day fasting regime linked with spiritual exercises, the details of which she sold to her more than 5,000 followers—it made some very sick and killed three of them. Eventually she was challenged and, with her reputation at stake, she agreed to stay in a hotel room where all comings and goings could be monitored. After three or four days, during which she definitely ate nothing, she collapsed and was admitted to the hospital. Unlike poor Sarah, she recovered, and tried to save face by complaining that the air in her hotel room was not fresh and could not sustain her as did the air in the Australian Out-back. To which she fled—and I have not heard of her since!

It is true, of course, that people can fast for a surprisingly long time, but in the end everyone needs some kind of nourishment—it can be a surprisingly small amount—to stay alive. All creatures need food of some sort, although some can fast for much longer than humans can. Hibernating species like bears enter a state of slowed-down physiological processes and can survive a long harsh winter without feeding at all. The African lungfish buries itself in the mud of a drying waterhole, and waits it out until the next rains— which can be several years. A tick that I met was still alive after living in a jar, without food or water, for more than six years. It got very excited if you put your hand near and frantically waved its front feet and antenna—I suppose it sensed blood and I felt sorry for it. But these are exceptions. Most animals, like us, need food—and especially water—on a much more regular basis. And Planet Earth provides a staggering number of items on the menu—almost everything is food for someone or something. In nature there are thousands of fascinating stories, plots and counterplots, that revolve around this basic need for food.


Some animal species have evolved the most extraordinary ways to find, catch, prepare, or digest the substances, plants, or other animals that keep them alive. Live prey is chased, stalked, poisoned, snared. Spiders are incredibly skilled in enmeshing, trapping, or hunting their prey. There is even one spider who puts a sticky blob on the end of a short strand of web and then, like a little cowboy with a lasso, waves it around her head at passing flies. The archer fish waits for a fly to land on a branch overhanging the stream, then launches a mouthful of water with deadly aim, knocking his dinner into the water. Ant lion larvae dig funnel-shaped pits in loose sand, lie in wait at the bottom, and hurl grains of sand when they sense some hapless insect struggling at the rim, causing it to lose its footing and skid down to be seized in strong mandibles. Many creatures, once they grab their prey, inject poison that incapacitates their victim. This enables them to eat creatures larger and stronger than themselves. There is even a family of plants that lives on animal foods. Pitcher plants lure insects into pitcher-shaped leaves filled with a delectable enzyme soup in which the prey is gradually digested and absorbed. The sundew has sticky leaves that close shut over unwary insects stopping there to feed on tempting drops of nectar—they are then gradually digested.

Different kinds of animals use different structures and methods to achieve a similar goal. To reach the nectar buried deep within a flower, insects such as butterflies and bees use a long proboscis; hummingbirds and sunbirds use long thin beaks. To feast on succulent termites or ants that are hidden underground, armadillos and anteaters have evolved strong digging claws and long, wormlike sticky tongues that snake down into the mound; chimpanzees fish for them with straw tools. Elephants reach food high up in a tree with their trunks, giraffes make use of their long necks, other creatures get up there by climbing or flying. Animals as diverse as spiders and lions hunt by stealth, stalking their prey, or hiding and pouncing. Others, like cheetahs and falcons, rely on short bursts of speed or, like hyenas, show amazing powers of endurance in the chase. Prey may be located by sight, hearing, scent, vibration, or echo location.

In turn, many plants and animals have taken equally ingenious measures to protect themselves from becoming food. Insects, according to their species, have evolved to resemble the bark of trees, dead leaves, flowers, twigs, and so on. There is a caterpillar at Gombe that looks exactly like a bird dropping. Caddis fly larvae make themselves little tubes to live in, then camouflage them by sticking on bits and pieces of the surrounding vegetation. Trapdoor spiders use the same technique to disguise the hinged plugs that close the entrance to their burrows. Some insects have brilliant colors but taste revolting. After one experience the would-be diner will avoid others of their kind forever. And there are other insects that actually taste delicious but that have evolved to resemble the noxious bugs so closely that they are avoided!

Many of the larger herbivores are arrayed in spots and stripes that blur their outline and make them hard to see. Octopuses can even change color, the better to blend into their surroundings. A diverse collection of creatures—porcupines, hedgehogs, puffer fish, sea urchins, hairy caterpillars, and so on—protect themselves with spines, quills, prickles, or stinging hairs. Others develop a tough outer armor, like tortoises and turtles, armadillos, and countless insects. There are some creatures who have developed poison, administered through the teeth, as in snakes, or stings as in the cone shells and stonefish, that, while primarily used to immobilize prey, is also extremely effective in repelling would-be predators. The same is true for the electric shocks administered by stingrays, electric eels, and so on.

As for the plants, they and their seeds are protected in a hundred different ways, by thorns and prickles and stinging itching hairs and foul toxins, and hard outer coverings. Many plant products, however, are meant to be eaten. Succulent fruits have been designed as high-quality food so that fruit-eating animals are more than happy to play a role in seed dispersal, carrying them away in their stomachs for eventual excretion elsewhere. Some seeds cannot germinate until they have passed through the stomach and guts of an animal. Many plants have developed alluring fragrances to attract insects, certain birds—and even a species of bat—to feast on the sweet nectar secreted in their flowers. These gourmets transport pollen from one plant or tree to another, thus playing a vital role in the propagation of the species.

Internal organs and digestive systems have adapted to cope with all manner of foods: tough, fibrous vegetable matter, leaves full of toxins or covered with spines, putrid carcasses, bones, and so on. Jaws and teeth of different size and strength enable their owners to crush, tear, or chew whatever it is that nature has planned as their diet. Birds are equipped with a fascinating array of beaks, each designed for dealing with the food the bird is born to eat. Hyenas have teeth and jaws so strong that they can crunch big bones and digestion so incredible that they can extract some nutrients from ancient carcasses.

By and large animals can only eat what they were born to eat: A giraffe could not survive on meat any more than an eagle could survive on leaves. Many species are quite specialized in their dietary needs: Koala bears must have eucalyptus leaves, giant pandas need their bamboo, the larvae of hunting wasps can only survive when fed the paralyzed bodies of particular species of spider or caterpillar. Other creatures are more catholic in their tastes, and many are omnivores, surviving on a mixed diet of plant and animal foods.

Thus, to a large extent the structure and behavior of animals has been determined, during the course of evolution, by their need to get adequate food of the right sort. And there can be little doubt that food—its acquisition, preparation, and consumption—played a role in the evolution of our own species. Like many of our primate relatives, we humans are omnivores. So are chimpanzees, from whom we differ genetically by only about one percent. Many people are interested in chimpanzee diet for the insights it may give us into the food preferences of our stone age ancestors. Chimpanzees are primarily fruit-eaters—they have long mobile lips and special ridges on the insides of their cheeks that enable them to suck and squeeze the juice from their food. But they also eat leaves, flowers, and stems, as well as leaf buds, seeds, and nuts that are rich in vegetable protein. They enjoy animal protein, too, and at certain times of year consume large numbers of insects, primarily ants, termites, and caterpillars. And at intervals throughout the year they hunt small- and medium-sized mammals; meat makes up about 2 percent of their annual diet at Gombe.


For anthropologists with an interest in human evolution, such as Louis Leakey, the most significant observations that I made at Gombe, in the early 1960s, were those that documented, for the first time, chimpanzee tool-using and hunting behavior. I can never forget the first time I saw a chimpanzee using tools. I was trudging through wet vegetation after a frustrating morning—for most of the chimpanzees were still shy, running off whenever they saw me. Suddenly I saw a black shape squatting by a termite mound. Peering through the leaves I saw that it was David Greybeard, the male who was beginning to lose his fear of the strange white ape that was me. I saw him pick a grass stem, poke it down into the mound, wait a moment, then pull it out coated with termites. These he picked off with his lips. I could see his jaws working and hear the sound of scrunching. I had seen a wild chimpanzee using a tool!

It was such an exciting observation that afterward I almost thought I must have imagined it. But a few days later I saw both David Greybeard and his friend Goliath using grass stems to feast on termites. And I watched as David broke a leafy stem from a nearby bush and stripped off the leaves— modifying an object to suit it to his purpose. Not only had I observed a wild chimpanzee using a tool but I saw one actually making a tool! Back then it was thought by scientists that only humans used and made tools. This, it was held, differentiated us from the rest of the animal kingdom more than any other criteria. "Man the Toolmaker" is how we were described in the anthropological textbooks of the time. I sent a telegram to Louis Leakey. "Well," he replied. "Now we must redefine Man, redefine Tool—or accept chimpanzees as humans!" Subsequently I would observe the chimpanzees using long peeled sticks to feast on army or driver ants, scrumpled-up leaves to sop water from hollows in tree trunks, and a variety of other objects for different purposes— most of which were in the context of obtaining food.

It was David Greybeard who provided me with the first evidence that chimpanzees sometimes eat meat—prior to my study it had been assumed that chimpanzees were vegetarians. On that first occasion I saw David feeding on a baby bush pig. He was sharing the flesh with an old female who sat close, begging, while her child, unsuccessful in getting a share from her elders, made repeated sorties to the ground to snatch up scraps. She was charged each time by the infuriated adult pigs and had to rush back up the tree, screaming loudly. A few weeks later I actually watched a successful hunt. A small group of red colobus monkeys had taken refuge at the very top of a tall tree that rose up out of the canopy. This was a mistake, for in such a situation they are relatively easy to catch. Several adult male chimpanzees took up positions in the surrounding branches, effectively cutting off the monkeys' escape routes. Then an adolescent male climbed slowly up the trunk, leaped toward a female monkey who had an infant clinging to her breast, seized the baby, and rushed away with his prey. One of the adult male chimpanzees seized the kill from the youngster and, in a short space of time, the carcass was torn into pieces by three big males in a positive frenzy of noisy excitement. The adolescent hunter joined the females to beg for scraps.

Over the years we have observed many instances of sophisticated cooperation during hunts, and a good deal of food sharing. We now know that chimpanzees hunt for meat throughout their range in Africa—or at least in all places where they have been studied.


Louis sent me to learn about chimpanzees in the wild because he hoped it would give him new insights concerning the behavior of our earliest ancestors, and theirs. He argued that if there were similarities in the behavior of modern chimpanzees and modern humans, those behaviors were possibly part of the repertoire of the apelike creature with hominid characteristics, ancestral to both humans and chimpanzees, that lived about seven million years ago. And, if so, then those same behaviors were probably inherited by prehistoric human beings also.

The observations made at Gombe suggested, for the first time, that prehistoric humans may have hunted for meat and used primitive tools made of leaves and sticks long before the first hammer stones and hand axes were made. I love to imagine those earliest ancestors kissing, embracing, and holding hands, visualize their excitement after a kill had been made, picture them using simple tools to help them with the gathering and preparing of their food. Louis was in the forefront of this kind of thinking, and his vision paid off: Most textbooks now refer to chimpanzee behavior when speculating on the behavior of our prehistoric ancestors.

Today it is generally accepted that although the earliest humans probably ate some meat, it was unlikely to have played a major role in their diet. Plants would have been a much more important source of food. This is true of almost all the hunter-gatherer peoples whose way of life lasted into the last century. The exceptions are when a group of people has moved into an environment that is, for at least part of each year, hostile to plant growth. This is true for the Inuit and the Alaskan Eskimos, and those people who moved into the arid plains. But whatever our prehistoric ancestors ate or did not eat it is safe to assume that the search for food, and the competition with other prehistoric creatures, played a key role in human evolution. For one thing, it was the fact that their diet was unspecialized that enabled our apelike forebears to move out from the forests where, it is assumed, they originated.

Early humans shared the African savanna with many for-midable creatures, including giant, gorilla-sized baboons. There was possibly intense competition between them, just as there is today between chimpanzees and baboons at Gombe, where the two species feed on many of the same foods. One such is a tennis-ball-sized Strychnos fruit with a very hard shell. The baboons are easily able to break these open with their strong teeth and jaws, but the chimpanzees cannot. However, the chimpanzees have learned to crack the fruit against a rock to get at the flesh. In West Africa chimpanzees have even developed a hammer-and-anvil technique, cracking open hard-shelled nuts by placing them on rock or root "anvils" and pounding them with rocks or clubs. This innovation gives them access to a rich food supply that is safely out of reach of most creatures. It seems reasonable to suppose that prehistoric hominids also used rocks not only as weapons, but to crack open hard-shelled fruits and nuts.

At Gombe both chimpanzees and baboons love to feast on termites. The baboons—like other monkeys, birds, and so on—must wait until the worker termites open up the nests to enable the fertile princes and princesses to fly off to form new colonies, at which time the eager insect lovers grab as many as possible of the large, succulent flying insects. So do the chimpanzees. But through the skillful use of tools, chimpanzees, as we have seen, can feast on termites even when they are not flying. This opens up a rich source of food when it is not available to baboons and most other competitors.

Amazingly, chimpanzees often steal meat from baboons, usually a bushbuck fawn that the baboons came across during foraging. And this, despite the fact that the male baboon has truly formidable canines, similar to those of a leopard, almost twice the size of those of a male chimpanzee. Even more amazing, the thief is sometimes a female chimpanzee whose teeth are even smaller. It is, I think, because the chimpanzees adopt an intimidating upright stance and charge their adversary, often brandishing a big stick, sometimes throwing rocks, while uttering spine-chilling yells. Given this scenario, we can easily imagine how early humans managed to hold their own against a variety of formidable competitors. Then, as their brains increased in complexity, they would have gradually developed more sophisticated tools and weapons, and eventually gained the upper hand in the savage prehistoric world.

Those prehistoric people also may have learned by watching other animals: Certainly their rock paintings reveal that they were keen observers of the wildlife around them. Perhaps they first thought of coating the tips of their arrows and spears with poison after watching the death throes of the victims of snakes or spiders. And maybe the first clay pot was made by some observant human who had watched the extraordinary skill of the potter wasp as she fashioned mud, chewed in her mouth, into a perfect, globe-shaped clay chamber in which to make a nest for her young.


It has been suggested that the introduction of cooked food may have been a major force in shaping human evolution. This theory has been propounded by anthropologists Richard Wrangham (who once studied chimpanzee feeding behavior at Gombe), David Pilbeam, and other Harvard scientists on the team. Charles Darwin himself, as Wrangham reminds us, wrote that cooking provides a means "by which hard and stringy roots can be rendered digestible, and poisonous roots or herbs innocuous." It is possible, too, to extract more calories from some foods when cooked. Wrangham suggests that cooking played a major role in the development of smaller jaws and teeth, and reduction in gut and rib cage size, and that more readily digested food would have provided the increased energy needed for fueling a larger brain.

It is easy to see how a taste for cooked foods could have developed in early humans. Both baboons and chimpanzees sometimes forage in the blackened ground after a bush fire has swept through. It seems they like the taste of singed insects and certain plant foods. And they almost certainly find the occasional dead animal, killed and perhaps partly cooked by the flames. Bush fires in the dry season are often started by lightning, and perhaps, as the human brain became more complex, early humans nurtured the flames for cooking fires. Even a captive mongoose I once knew preferred his meat cooked, and would take pieces of raw steak and push them close to the electric fire.


Our study of chimpanzees throws light on the dawn of human cultures. For chimpanzees, no longer imprisoned within the cage of instinct, are able to pass information from one generation to the next through observation, imitation, and practice. Sometimes an individual acquires a new behavior by capitalizing on a chance experience, sometimes by watching, then copying, another. And these behaviors can then, in turn, be acquired by others in the group. And although it may be easier for them to learn new behaviors during infancy when the brain is at its most plastic, they can continue to acquire new skills throughout life—unless they live long enough to become senile!

In all the places where wild chimpanzees have been studied there is strong evidence for cultural behavior. Mahale National Park is situated on the shores of Lake Tanganyika about one hundred kilometers south of Gombe. Many of the same species of plants and trees are found in both places. Yet often that which is eagerly eaten by the Gombe chimpanzees is ignored by those in Mahale, and vice versa. In Gombe I have seen older family members "protecting" infants, swatting away foods that are not part of the normal diet of the community—though they may be eaten elsewhere.

Even when the same kind of plant is eaten by chimpanzees in different areas, it may be prepared or collected differently. At Gombe chimpanzees feast on the fruits, the pith, the dry male flower cluster, and the dead wood of the oil nut palm. In the Ivory Coast the chimpanzees eat only the pith. In Guinea the chimpanzees use rocks to crack open the very hard pits and eat the kernels. And in Mahale the chimpanzees ignore the oil palm altogether. Driver ants are captured at Gombe with long peeled sticks that are thrust down into an opened nest. When the stick is pulled out, swarming with viciously biting ants, the chimpanzee sweeps the stick through one hand, then rapidly crunches the great handful of insects. In the Ivory Coast a chimpanzee pokes a short stick into a marching column of the ants, quickly withdraws it when one or two insects climb on, and picks them off with his or her lips. There are many such examples of cultural differences in the behavior of wild chimpanzees.

Thus, chimpanzees have clearly started out along the path of cultural evolution—a path along which we humans have traveled so far in such a relatively short time. A path that has led to the fascinating variations in the foods eaten in different human cultures and the thousands of ways we have discovered to prepare them for the table.

Chapter 2

A Celebration of Cultures

"Food to a large extent is what holds a society together and eating is closely linked to deep spiritual experiences."



On Sale
Nov 1, 2005
Page Count
320 pages

Jane Goodall

About the Author

Jane Goodall is the world’s foremost authority on chimpanzees. An internationally renowned conservationist, she is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and has received many distinguished awards in science. Dr. Goodall is also the author of many acclaimed books, including the bestseller Reason for Hope.

Gail Hudson is a Seattle-based author and journalist. Her books with Jane Goodall include Harvest for Hope and Hope for Animals and Their World.

Learn more about this author