Is Cooking Man's Greatest Invention?
By: Tim Henriques 5-10-13
In a recent radio interview on DC101, author Michael Pollan (Omnivore's Dilemma and his latest book: Cooked) makes the claim that cooking may be man's greatest invention. He argues this because to get the protein that we need if we didn't cook our food it would take us hours and hours to chew, similar to the way herbivores spend their time. Cooking allows us to consume a greater quantity of food in less time. This in turns allows us to have more free time which then led to all other sorts of inventions over time. He also argues that around the fire is perhaps where civilization began, as we cooked the food we had to wait for it, share, communicate with each other, etc. In short, his point is that without cooked food we would not be where we are today.
Of course not everyone agrees with this idea. Many point out that language and creating symbolic meaning for things has had a more powerful influence on our evolution. Others might argue that learning to master fire is key (and one might say cooking is kind of cheating because it involves mastery of several technologies all at once). Einstein (reportedly) said that compound interest was man’s greatest invention. Without tools and weapons we couldn’t kill and cut up the animals we want to cook. Flight, phones, refrigerators, nuclear bombs, the electron microscope, all play key roles in today’s society. The meatheads out there might want to include an Eleiko Barbell and Weight Set in that list 🙂
So what do you think? Do you agree with Pollan or like something else on the list or think I missed it entirely?