In the book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Richard Wrangham puts forth the idea that cooking played a major part in the evolution into humans, an idea that I wholeheartedly support, if with skepticism. Yes, I understand what I just said. I feel that the idea is entirely plausible, but I also feel that Wrangham could have presented his evidence in a more efficient manner.While reading through Catching Fire, I feel like I am reading a collection of essays, all related to one another, but in the incorrect order. The chapters seem to have been written all at different times, and thrown together haphazardly. I feel this takes only a slight amount off of his argument. How can one form an argument about the evolutionary impact of cooking if they cannot properly place their arguments?
Still, I feel his argument is valid, and the amount of evidence he gives, while it is a whole lot of speculation, is worthy of much consideration. The human jawbone is small and weak in comparison to modern great apes. As are our teeth. We are just so physically different than modern great apes, and yet extremely similar. Our bodies are created to live on the ground, with a light ability to climb, and a great ability to run. Why? Cooking.
I was constantly engrossed by the examples given of humanity’s reliance on cooking. I was also engrossed by the ridiculousness of some of the examples of raw food diets. The reading, for me, was quite enjoyable. Reading about people that eat only raw foods or only foods that would have fallen from the tree naturally. I can hardly fathom living off of sprouted roots and fresh greens, and that is it.
Now I can even refute some people that try to say that many hunter gatherer societies live off of raw food diets. They do not. Hunter gatherer societies such as the Inuit, and tribes in Africa, which seem to be the major arguments for raw foodists. In all actuality, the Inuit make a very large deal about cooking food, quite reasonably. If a hunter comes home and does not eat dinner one night, he might not have enough energy to go out and hunt the next day. Cooking is a major part of the society. It is a major part in our society, too. It is integral to nearly everything we do.
This fits in with Wranghams hypothesis and arguments. Cooking has become so natural, from years and years of using fire to break down proteins in meats, and split up complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates, that it just is. I had not thought of cooking as being an idea that could be removed from life until this class and this book. It has always been just natural to me.
That is why cooking is amazing, and influential. Without cooking, we would not have out smaller guts, and our larger brains. Without the control of fire, we would not be able to live on the ground without having to worry about predators. It is quite amazing, no?
I’ll never be you,