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Cooking makes us human?

March 14, 2010

I share in the sentiments of most of you who have posted on this blog in that this class has totally changed the way I look at food. I have a greater appreciation for the ingredients that go into it and I am much more interested in the process of making it.  

Now the way I look at cooking has changed too, thanks to a segment on NPR.

The segment features Dr. Wrangham, the author of “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made us Human.” He explains that cooking is what makes people intrinsically human, which touches on a theme of some of our readings in class.

I found it very interesting that when man first started to cook, it increased the amount of time available per day. When one cooks food, it softens the food, and thus makes it easier to eat. He explains that without cooking the food, we would spend 6 hours a day in chewing our food as the ape does. Now we only spend about an hour, which saves time and increases our productivity.

Cooking also started the social construct of ownership that exists in our society. When one had to cook food, it needed to be stored somewhere. And storing it made it more vulnerable to be stolen. This started the system of regulations in our society to ensure ownership and property.

Wrangham says that cooking may have contributed to the gender roles that exist in our society as well as the social construct  of marriage. The stronger male would bully the weaker males and females into cooking their food for them. The females also started to depend on the stronger males for protection of their food, which created this dynamic in our society where the women generally take care of the household while the man goes out of the house to provide for the family. There are many more interesting insights such as these in the interview. You can check it out at this URL:

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