Who invented cooking

Baboons don't cook their food. They therefore spend half of their waking time eating and digesting, the other half looking for food sources and sleeping places. But man invented the saucepan and cooks his food in it with pleasure.

The evolution of man was also shaped by his diet. While science is devoted to the question of whether meat consumption was important to the development of our ancestors, the effects of food preparation are largely ignored. It is generally accepted that cooking is not practiced long enough to affect human evolution.

The American anthropologists Richard Wrangham and Nancy Lou Conklin-Brittain vehemently deny this view. They point to numerous prehistoric sites in Europe and the Middle East, which prove that cooking has been practiced for at least 250,000 years. Thus the use of fire accompanies the incarnation. Individual older sites of fireplaces go back up to 1.9 million years - however, the older the charred material, the more difficult it is to provide evidence of culinary use.

In fact, cooking offered a number of benefits to our ancestors. By breaking down the hard structures of plant and meat fibers through heat, they save time and energy for previously laborious chewing and digestive processes. Cooking raw food also destroyed toxins and anti-nutritives, broken down plant fibers into digestible carbohydrates, and made it easier to use proteins. Because infants only swallow and digest cooked pulpy food, it was possible to wean them earlier. This increased the number of children per woman.

The time and energy saved by cooking in terms of food procurement, eating and digestion enabled more food sources to be tapped. Baboons, for example, spend half of their waking hours eating and the other half looking for food sources and sleeping places. By cooking, our ancestors' food intake was limited to a few hours, which gave them time for other activities and allowed them to establish human culture.

Cooking had far-reaching consequences. About 100,000 years ago the molars of the people of that time shrank noticeably. However, the time of the first cooked meal may have to be set much earlier, because the massive jaws of our ancestors receded almost two million years ago. In addition, the more efficient utilization, thanks to the digested food, enabled a smaller digestive tract and faster intestinal transit. From the point of view of the authors, people today cannot cope with a purely raw diet because their digestive system has adapted to cooked food and can only process raw food in moderation. Since then, humans have been dependent on food sources with a high energy density. In fact - apart from a small number of European raw food fans - there are no known cultures or peoples in the world who only eat raw food.

Because a study of German raw artisans (Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 1999/43 / S.69-79) had shown that they increasingly suffer from chronic calorie deficits, the anthropologists calculated the amounts of fruit and vegetables vegetarian Need to consume raw artisans to meet a daily calorie requirement of 2000 kilocalories. The result makes you think: It's at least five (!) Kilograms. If the diet is supplemented with raw meat, just under three kilos are still needed. It is obvious that such raw food quantities overwhelm the digestive system in the long run. For comparison: Normally, humans consume almost two kilograms of cooked food per day. Observations on chimpanzees show that raw meat puts a lot of stress on an unmatched set of teeth. The monkeys only manage 340 grams per hour with a calorie content of around 400 kilocalories.

Note: Why many scientists still attribute the "spiritual soaring" of mankind solely to an increased consumption of meat, is hardly understandable in view of the logic presented. After all, carnivorous animals are not particularly intelligent beings either. The use of fire, however, is a peculiarity that distinguished us from all animal species at an early stage and consequently could have been a starting point for our cultural development.

Taken from: EU.L.E.n-Spiegel 2004, Heft 3, p. 19