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Old 06-08-2009, 10:01 AM   #1
Scott Allen Hanson
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How Cooking Made Us Human

Interesting program this morning on the radio for Paleo-Diet adherents. The guest was a Harvard primatologist named Richard Wrangham who has written a book on the pivotal role of cooking in human evolution. Audio available today after 3 PM EDT (wfs):

Be forewarned, he does conclude with a comment to a raw-food vegan caller that the diet spurring our evolutionary past is not necessarily the diet that is most healthful.
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Old 06-08-2009, 07:43 PM   #2
Nicholas Dixon
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Re: How Cooking Made Us Human

Very interesting stuff, both from a nutritional and anthropological point of view. Thanks for sharing.

I think it's very interesting that he makes a point of saying, that from an evolutionary standpoint, human beings are not specifically designed to consume or digest meat in an efficient matter. The fact that cooking meat is even necessary to fully utilize the nutritional benefits of meat isn't something that most of us really think about. Cooking meat is just something we do, because that is how we (generally) prefer our meat to be served, not because we need to "unlock" the benefits of the meat.

On the other hand, while we may not be biologically suited to efficiently digest meat (we do have the relatively longer digestive tracts of herbivores as opposed to the shorter versions sported by true meat eaters, as well as teeth suited to stripping and grinding plant matter instead of tearing and swallowing meat) the very fact that we consume meat has allowed us to progress and evolve as a species. Less time eating (I believe he said we spend less than an hour a day chewing our cooked food, while other primates spend six hours or more chewing raw food) leads to more time for other pursuits.

It would be interesting to see the results of a similar study focused on bonobos, as they tend to exhibit social behaviors that are more inline with our own. It makes you wonder if introduced to a diet of cooked food that required less time and energy what sort of behaviors they would exhibit.

Last edited by Nicholas Dixon; 06-08-2009 at 08:09 PM..
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