The Structures of Everyday Life
I’ve been reading Fernand Braudel’s three volume Structures of Everyday Life and found it very interesting in general. Among other things, it describes the development of ordinary things like diet, fashion, housing arrangement, and furniture.
New foods, furniture, and clothed spread quickly when they were adopted as fads by the rich and became more common in a community as production or import increased. On the other hand, things like new cereal grains took decades or centuries to be adopted as mass use crops because there was no appetite for them nor tradition of how to put them to best use.
I think this puts a new spin on playing long lived races relative to humans. Elves are the canonical example. They have been presented as particularly tied to the past and a bit xenophobic. This may not be (only) because there is a special power to the old ways but because they are just backward and stuck in their ways. The ten thousand year old elf king thinks hunter gathering is the way to go because that’s how he was raised more than because agriculture doesn’t support a higher population. On the other hand, sustainability takes on new meaning over those time scales.
You might also spice up your orc tribes by having them introduce a new and useful variety of plant or domesticated animal. Oldsters regard them as filthy and only fit for orcs and beggars, but my do they thrive on that otherwise empty badland…