Evolution and history of cooking

A Talk With Richard Wrangham [8.

Evolution and history of cooking

The Human Evolution World Tour Every animal on earth is constrained by its energy budget; the calories obtained from food will stretch only so far.

And for most human beings, most of the time, these calories are burned not at the gym, but invisibly, in powering the heart, the digestive system and especially the brain, in the silent work of moving molecules around within Evolution and history of cooking among its billion cells.

A human body at rest devotes roughly one-fifth of its energy to the brain, regardless of whether it is thinking anything useful, or even thinking at all. Thus, the unprecedented increase in brain size that hominids embarked on around 1. Many anthropologists think the key breakthrough was adding meat to the diet.

What matters, they say, is not just how many calories you can put into your mouth, but what happens to the food once it gets there. How much useful energy does it provide, after subtracting the calories spent in chewing, swallowing and digesting? The real breakthrough, they argue, was cooking.

Wrangham, who is in his mids, with an unlined face and a modest demeanor, has a fine pedigree as a primatologist, having studied chimpanzees with Jane Goodall at Gombe Stream National Park.

In pursuing his research on primate nutrition he has sampled what wild monkeys and chimpanzees eat, and he finds it, by and large, repellent. The leaves, he found, provide traction for the teeth on the slippery, rubbery surface of raw muscle. Food is a subject on which most people have strong opinions, and Wrangham mostly excuses himself from the moral, political and aesthetic debates it provokes.

Impeccably lean himself, he acknowledges blandly that some people will gain weight on the same diet that leaves others thin. He takes no position on the philosophical arguments for and against a raw-food diet, except to point out that it can be quite dangerous for young children.

Human beings evolved to eat cooked food.

Evolution and history of cooking

In the wild, people typically survive only a few months without cooking, even if they can obtain meat. Wrangham cites evidence that urban raw-foodists, despite year-round access to bananas, nuts and other high-quality agricultural products, as well as juicers, blenders and dehydrators, are often underweight.

Of course, they may consider this desirable, but Wrangham considers it alarming that in one study half the women were malnourished to the point they stopped menstruating. They presumably are eating all they want, and may even be consuming what appears to be an adequate number of calories, based on standard USDA tables.

There is growing evidence that these overstate, sometimes to a considerable degree, the energy that the body extracts from whole raw foods. Carmody explains that only a fraction of the calories in raw starch and protein are absorbed by the body directly via the small intestine. Cooked food, by contrast, is mostly digested by the time it enters the colon; for the same amount of calories ingested, the body gets roughly 30 percent more energy from cooked oat, wheat or potato starch as compared to raw, and as much as 78 percent from the protein in an egg.

Cooking breaks down collagen, the connective tissue in meat, and softens the cell walls of plants to release their stores of starch and fat. The calories to fuel the bigger brains of successive species of hominids came at the expense of the energy-intensive tissue in the gut, which was shrinking at the same time—you can actually see how the barrel-shaped trunk of the apes morphed into the comparatively narrow-waisted Homo sapiens.

Cooking freed up time, as well; the great apes spend four to seven hours a day just chewing, not an activity that prioritizes the intellect.The value of history is that it helps us to understand the present and the future. In food service, knowledge of our professional heritage helps us to see why we do things as we do, how our cooking techniques have developed and refined and how we can continue to .

The value of history is that it helps us to understand the present and the future. In food service, knowledge of our professional heritage helps us to see why we do things as we do, how our cooking techniques have developed and refined and how we can continue to develop and innovate in the years ahead.

Apr. 12, — Fire, a tool broadly used for cooking, constructing, hunting and even communicating, was arguably one of the earliest discoveries in human history.

But when, how and why it came. One is the evolution of cooking. Whenever cooking happened, it must have had absolutely monstrous effects on us, because cooking enormously increases the quality of the food we eat, and it enormously increases the range of food items that we can eat. We all know that food quality and food abundance are key variables in understanding animal ecology.

Next, Food Revolutionaries tells the story of how chefs flambeed and sautéed their way to food as art. Click the bowl of peppercorns and chopped endives for an exploration of the future of food: Food science is constantly evolving. Light My Fire: Cooking As Key To Modern Human Evolution Date: August 10, hunting and even communicating, was arguably one of the earliest discoveries in human history.

But when, how and.

Food Timeline: food history research service