We Are What We Eat

We Are What We Eat

After traveling to five different countries (Greenland, Bolivia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Crete) in search of the origins of the human diet, Matthieu Paley comes to the last stop in his journey, Tanzania.


3 - 12+


Social Studies, World History


Kongolobe Berries

The Hadza people of Tanzania rely on hunting animals and gathering wild fruits and vegetables for food, such as these colorful kongolobe berries (Grewia bicolor)​​​​​​​.

Photograph by Matthieu Paley
The Hadza people of Tanzania rely on hunting animals and gathering wild fruits and vegetables for food, such as these colorful kongolobe berries (Grewia bicolor)​​​​​​​.
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I am a photographer. I take pictures for National Geographic magazine. I came to Tanzania to look for a community that doesn't get any of its food from the outside world. I wanted to find a people who get their food the old way, by hunting and gathering. I decided to visit the Hadza people. The Hadza get all their meat by hunting. They hunt with bow and arrow, not guns. To find out what a Hadza hunt was like, I went along with two hunters. Their names were Kauda and January. We walked for three days in search of game. Finally, we saw a huge giraffe. January shot a poisoned arrow into the giraffe's side. The Giraffe Gets Away We then followed the wounded animal for over an hour. Still, it didn't fall. January said we needed to return to camp before it got dark. We would continue following the giraffe in the morning. The next day, we set out to look for the animal. It was long gone. It had survived the poison and moved on. On our way back to the camp, Kauda spotted a hyrax. It looked like a large rat. He shot off an arrow and killed it. We cooked it over a fire. The Hadza Way Of Life The Hadza are not like most people in today's world. They do not grow crops, herd animals or even store any food. There is nothing to eat at camp in the morning. Each day, they head out to gather berries, honey, potato-like tubers, and baobab-fruits. And sometimes they kill animals. They do not hunt for fun, though. They only do it to feed themselves and their people. The Hadza show us what life was once like for all humans. They have been following their way of life for thousands of years. The Hadza travel from place to place. They live in camps made of twigs covered with grass. When they leave a camp behind, the twigs and grass fall off. Over time, they go back into the earth. There are no piles of garbage left behind. Over thousands of years, the Hadza have done nothing to hurt their environment. They have something to teach us all. Article originally published on December 10, 2014, this material has been adapted for educational use.

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Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
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Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

January 22, 2024

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