Friday, May 29, 2009

Catching Fire

A review in the NY Times of this new book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, made it zoom right to the top of my "to buy" list. The author, Richard Wrangham, is an anthropologist at Harvard, and takes an evolutionary approach to the advantages of cooked food. Some enticing quotes:

Apes began to morph into humans, and the species Homo erectus emerged some two million years ago, Mr. Wrangham argues, for one fundamental reason: We learned to tame fire and heat our food.

“Cooked food does many familiar things,” he observes. “It makes our food safer, creates rich and delicious tastes and reduces spoilage. Heating can allow us to open, cut or mash tough foods. But none of these advantages is as important as a little-appreciated aspect: cooking increases the amount of energy our bodies obtain from food.”

He continues: “The extra energy gave the first cooks biological advantages. They survived and reproduced better than before. Their genes spread. Their bodies responded by biologically adapting to cooked food, shaped by natural selection to take maximum advantage of the new diet. There were changes in anatomy, physiology, ecology, life history, psychology and society.”

Take that, you raw food fadists!

1 comment:

Faine said...

Holy god, that book sounds awesome. Also in violent agreement regarding raw foodists. I mean, *really*? You're going to repudiate one of man's earliest technological achievements and subsist on kelp? *Really?*