Anthropology

  • Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture
    by Marvin Harris

    Drawing from his research on a wide range of ancient and modern societies, the author offers theories of the effects of regulations governing comestibles in various cultures, and that "good to eat" translates as "good to sell" in profit-conscious countries like the U.S. Whereas "good to eat" translates as "good for class stability" in class-driven countries of both bygone and modern eras. This is not a book for the queasy of stomach but it reinforces that how we arrive at thinking something is good to eat is not as conscious or as 'sensible' as we would like to think.

     
  • Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human
    by Richard Wrangham

    A well-argued and considered treatise on why cooking, and not carnivory, is likely responsible for brain development in earlier human species. Biological anthropologist Wrangham estimates that 1.8 million years ago, our ancestors began cooking and it resulted in physiological changes: our jaws, teeth and gastrointestinal system shrank and our brains expanded. We have become so fit for purpose that humans are the only living species that are not built to thrive on 100% raw food diets today. Wrangham's observations on division of labor to allow for dependable calorie intake in hunter/gatherer societies suggest that the sharing of food in human species had specific survival value.