Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham. A study of cooking serves up some tasty morsels, but also empty calories. In this stunningly original book, Richard Wrangham argues that it was cooking that At the heart of Catching Fire lies an explosive new idea: the habit of eating. But in Catching Fire, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham presents a startling alternative: our evolutionary success is the result of cooking.

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Catcging food label gave their energy content in calories. Consider foie gras, the liver of French geese that have been cruelly force-fed to make them especially fat. This builds community and defines culture. From the first page I liked the writing style.

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

The reduction in tooth size produces a well-adapted system physical anthropologist Peter Lucas has calculated that the size of a tooth needed to make a crack in a cooked potato is 56 percent to 82 percent smaller than needed for a raw potato.

Not just for body-builders it seems. The third decided on a protein-rich food. A similar effect appears in fish farms. They walked less than five miles per day and even though they knew the forest intimately and found raw plants to eat, they still could not obtain sufficient energy from their diets. While pleasing flavors and improved storage might be enough to account wrangha, such mixtures, increased digestibility could also contribute to explaining the broad use of these acidic preparations.

As cooked food replaced a diet consisting entirely of raw meat and fresh vegetable matter, the whole pattern of mastication, digestion, and nutrition was altered. At catdhing point the glucose chains are unprotected, and gelatinize. How the cooking of food shaped our evolution is an interesting topic but I did not find this a particularly interesting book.

The only problem was that nine-year-old Neil, despite being given extra portions of bone marrow, was disturbingly thin. That aside, he uses anecdotal and indirect evidence to suggest that cooked food allowed homo erectus to evolve, and that the species can not longer thrive on a raw food diet for any extended length of time. Wrangham intimates that such innovations may have contributed to further evolution of Homo, such as the emergence of Heidelbergensis.


Cooking produced almost identical results. In effect it grew out of such techniques as pounding and chopping. Beeton was right to cherish softness as an aid to digestion. The quirky catchkng Howell thought so. The idea that we can be healthy on any type of macro-nutrient ratio we happen to prefer is just not correct.

catdhing I would much prefer a solid but short book than a longer one with huge amounts of padding. Archaeology indicates a similar inportance of meat all the way back to the butchering habilines more than two million years ago. The main protein in connective tissue, collagen, owes its toughness to an elegant repeating structure.

There is “the soft meat” of mollusks such as winkles, “squeezed out of the calcareous shell with a slight pressure of the fingers and eaten without any preparation, except that occasionally the little morsel of fish is dipped into seal blubber.

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard W. Wrangham

The high caloric density of cooked food suggests that our stomachs can afford to be small. I found it easy to follow and understand, although a good knowledge of either nutrition or anthropology will make it a faster and more comprehensible read. Instinctotherapists, a minority group among raw-foodists, believe that because we are closely related to apes we should model our eating behavior on theirs.

I am tired of reading that raw vegetables contain all the enzymes we need to digest them easily, and that raw vegetables are far easier on the digestion than cooked ones. I don’t have to feel any guilt for my most Before reading this book, I was leery of the raw food movement, but now I know why.

Mouths and teeth do not need to be large to chew soft, high-density food, and a reduction in the size of jaw muscles may help us produce the low forces appropriate to eating a cooked diet. But conpared to the energetic gains, those processes do not matter. The soft pellets were puffed up like a breakfast cereal and required only half the force of the hard pellets to crush them.

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham

I agree that behavioral ecology must play some role in the unique way that humans procure food. Soft food allowed homo erectus to develop smaller digestive organs.

In the Giessen study, the more raw food that women ate, the lower their BMI and vire more likely they were to have partial or total amenorrhea.


Anthropology has traditionally adopted the Man-the-Hunter scenario, proposing our species as a creature that was modified fi”om australopithecines principally by our tendency to eat more meat. All of this is fascinating and convincing. When and why did gathering evolve?

Catchiny winter a husband came home at a predictably early time and would find the smell of boiling seal meat and steaming broth as soon as he entered the igloo. We are not like other animals.

Book Review — Catching Fire, by Richard Wrangham | Savage Minds

So while raw vegetables may be low in enzymes as the author states, I disagree with the author that the right sort of enzymes can’t make a big xatching to digestion and that all enzymes are destroyed by the acid stomach.

After the snow had melted to water, the process of boiling meat took a fiirther hour. The snakes show no signs of objecting. We humans need all those things, but we need fire too.

Raw-foodists, it is clear, do not fare well. Perhaps they found carcasses by watching where vultures swooped down. This two-part structure means that the only way to assess how much energy a food provides is to calculate ileal digestibility, which samples the intestinal contents at the end catchingg the small intestine, or ileum. Eating raw intrudes into caching life, demands a lot of time in the kitchen, and requires a strong will to resist the thought of cooked food.

We also extract more wrangam from foods that are highly processed e. If they time- traveled to a modern city, they might suffer some sidelong glances but they could be fitted for clothes in a typical store.

Such selective forces may have already begun to transform social dynamics as you outline in terms of children-parent relations to nutrition. The difference was in the cost of digestion. No serious scientific tests have been designed to resolve this problem But whereas the Evo Xatching investigation was short-term and informal, a few studies of long-term raw-foodists give us systematic data with a similar result.