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The journey of humans and cooking

Notes/opinions/learnings from: Catching Fire: How cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham. (Part 5/5) Finally got to end of this book-  by far one of the most informed I’ve felt about my craft and I’ve learnt that there more nuances about it that are more than just making food (Although I felt some bits were inserted for the sake of just elevating the theory, it was well written and mentioned all sides of the argument). Cooking is so important, its more than just the pleasure factor. There is so much social/historical reasons how cooking has shaped us to how we are now that we overlook. It’s is up to us to learn as much as we can and to give back to something that has made us. Giving importance to our food, learning where it comes from, nurturing and growing our food and shaping our future with it. 

Once the fire was lit and kept alive by habilines, cooking probably started. The group evolved to Homo Erectus and began their journey of evolving smaller guts, bigger brains, bodies, less hair, more running, more hunting, longer lives, bonding between the two sexes. With time they lost their ability to climb trees and had more time to look for meat and honey and started humanity.

Now, that human have evolved to create the food we want to eat. This results in excess. In the United States, people doubled their calorie intake between 1977 and 1995 and food trends are growing towards obesity in industrialised countries.

The Atwater system invited by a man of the same name was a professor in end of the 19th century. He was the one who incited food labelling system of the western world. His aim was to ensure that poor people could use their limited resources to get enough to eat. He set out to discover how many calories different food provided. He knew that food was made of energy: protein, fat and carbohydrates. Using a bomb calorimeter he recorded how much heat as released when protein, fats and carbohydrates were burned. He found out that there was not a lot of variation. He then figured out how much of the major macronutrients-proteins, fat, and carbohydrates a food contains. Fat was chopped and weighed and dissolved in ether. Protein was was found my measuring the amount of nitrogen. Carbohydrates still cannot be measured. But he knew how to calculate the total amount of organic matteR: he burned the food leaving only mineral and ask and found the inorganic matter. Knowing how much organic matter the food contained and the fat and protein he found out the carbohydrates. He then went on to find out how much food a person eats is digested. He took the proportion of the food that had not been digested which was less than 10 percent, he claimed that on average proteins and carbohydrates each yield 4 kcal/gram, white lipids kcal/gram. These are known as Atwater factors.

However this has two problems: it undermines the ability to access the food value of items of low digestibility such as raw food. It does not recognise that digestion is a costly process. When we eat our metabolic rate rises.  He assumed that a bomb calorimeter produces the same amount of energy value in our bodies during his experiments and that humans could use all the energy present in food. Another issue was that compounding is an issue. He assumes that the proportion of food digested is he same, regardless of whether food is in liquid or solid form, raw or cooked. With such issues, the public is provided with estimates of food values that don’t really reflect the digestive state. Calories do not tell us exactly what we need to know. We become fat from eating food that is easy to digest. Micheal Pollan, says that we should choose real food and not nutrients. Real food is natural and lightly processed.

#catchingfirehowcookingmadeushuman #FoodStudies #Richardwrangham

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