Can you imagine a group of people foraging the land for their next meal? Hunting wild game, picking wild fruit, and searching for honey? UNLV anthropology doctoral student Trevor Pollom trekked to Tanzania to see it for himself.
Pollom had the chance to witness the biological changes that occur when a hunter-gatherer society is introduced to cultivated crops such as corn, wheat, beans, and rice.
“When you introduce agriculture to hunter-gatherers, they get taller and healthier,” he said.
Pollom’s presentation about his research on the Hadza tribe in northern Tanzania earned him first place at the annual Rebel Grad Slam competition — an event hosted by the Graduate College that challenges graduate students to present their research using only three minutes and one slide.
“I work with hunter-gatherers and their children,” said Pollom. “I’m broadly interested in how nutrition and the environment affect human health.”
The Hadza tribe lives off the land and is the last exclusive hunter-gatherer tribe in the world. Other cultures hunt and gather, but also have access to staple crops.
“The Hadza people are transitioning from their traditional way of life,” said Pollom. “I am looking at how these changes are affecting their health and how that applies to overall human health and development.”
Pollom hopes to apply his research findings on a broader public health level to help society better understand chronic diseases and bring insight to numerous diet claims around the world.
Pollom’s time with the Hadza tribe brought insight into a culture whose current way of life will soon cease to exist.
“We are capturing a unique snapshot of human history,” said Pollom. “Once they have transitioned, there will be no more hunter-gatherers.”