Review Article

Food Security and Nutrition as the Neglected Missing Links in Cultural Evolution: The Role of the Sociotype

Elliot M. Berry


Food security and nutrition were major drivers of cultural evolution by enabling sociotypic development and communal living after the Neolithic agricultural revolution some 12,000 years ago. The sociotype unites concepts from the sciences and the humanities; in concert with the genotype it determines an individual’s phenotype (observable traits and behavior), and together they advance societal culture. As such, the sociotype relates to an individual’s dynamic interactions with the surrounding social environment through¬out life and comprises three domains: the Individual, Relationships, and Context. Nutrition affects each domain, respectively, by ensuring the following dimensions of food security: utilization (metabolic fuel and health); accessibility (physical and economic); and availability (the right to nutritious food for all citi¬zens). The sociotype is influenced by multiple factors, including diet–gene interactions, allostasis, micro¬biota, oxytocin, and culturally through mate selection, family bonds, social communication, political ideol¬ogies, and values. Food security, sociotypes, and culture form a complex adaptive system to enable coping with the circumstances of life in health and disease, to achieve sustainable development, and to eradicate hunger. The current geopolitical unrest highlights the absolutely critical role of this system for global security, yet many challenges remain in implementing this paradigm for society. Therefore, sustainable food security must be considered a fundamental human right and responsibility for safeguarding the survival and progress of the sociotypes of humankind (Homo cultures) worldwide.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2022;13(3):e0020