Foraging life is neither as precarious nor as arduous as it might seem.

Because of the diversity of resources the !Kung know how to tap, they cope easily with failures of supply by shifting from one source to another. Archaeological records suggest that their way of life in the Kalahari has persisted for thousands of years without a break. It takes the !Kung 12 to 21 hours a week to gather all the food they need, according to Lee. Including other work activities like tool-making and maintenance, their total work week is 40 to 44


The !Kung live in small groups that move camp whenever the surrounding food sources have been eaten out. A family's total possessions—tools, ostrich shell canteens, children's toys, musical instruments—pack into two bags. Nothing is stored, since everything they need is obtainable from the environment. Portability imbues !Kung life so thoroughly that it affects even the spacing of children. A woman can carry one child easily along with all her possessions, but two are a burden. !Kung women tend not to have a second child until the first can walk well. Children are not weaned until the age of four and before that age are carried almost everywhere, whether on foraging trips or when moving camp. Lee calculates that !Kung women walk about 1,500 miles a year, at least half of this distance carrying substantial burdens of food, water or possessions. A !Kung mother carries her child a total of 4,900 miles before it walks by itself. Perhaps because a woman must invest so much care and labor in raising a child, she examines her newborn carefully for signs of defects. "If it is deformed, it is the mother's duty to smother it," writes the

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