Author Topic: When Did Cooking Start?  (Read 7334 times)

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Offline PaleoPhil

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When Did Cooking Start?
« on: July 14, 2010, 07:58:52 am »
Some radical claims have been made re: cooking and I couldn't find an earlier thread on the topic, so I created a new one.

Re: Fixing narrow palates and cranial deformities
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2010, 03:16:37 AM »

….In essence, it is entirely plausible that humans have at least been eating various potato-like root vegetables and cooking them since the dawn of time.

http://www.rawpaleoforum.com/carnivorous-zero-carb-approach/insulin-spikes-do-not-cause-insulin-resistance/msg39511/#msg39511 

Re: Insulin spikes do NOT cause insulin resistance??
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2010, 12:10:35 PM »

As for the archeology and anthropology supporting paleo, consider this: It is entirely plausible that humans have at least been eating various potato-like root vegetables and cooking them around the world since the dawn of time. ....
This same vague quote has appeared at least twice in this forum. What era is "dawn of time" meant to suggest--the first homo sapien sapien, the first homo sapien, the first hominid, anything specific? Where did this claim originate?

Wrangham has made the most radical speculation I've seen so far--that cooking goes back 2 million years--and so far I find his arguments unconvincing and in contradiction of my personal experience.
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
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Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline Sitting Coyote

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2010, 09:21:53 am »
I've actually been reading a lot on this recently, including some of Wrangham's work.  The problem I have with it, and this is a problem I see in most anthropological work, is that researchers (including Wrangham and his colleagues) constantly overgeneralize the conclusions they draw from their work.  This is aside from the fact that they make some pretty stunning logical leaps to reach their conclusions.

For instance, let's assume that Wrangham et al.'s findings of cooked food, burned bones and a hearth at a hominin site 2 million years ago are accurate.  This says very little about human behavior, for several reasons. 

1.  Just because one finds a hearth does not mean it was used for cooking.  Fire was certainly used for light, heat, or spiritual aspiration long before it was used to process food.

2.  Just because one finds bits of cooked food at an archeological site doesn't mean the food was cooked intentionally.  Someone may have accidentally dropped or intentionally disposed of it in a fire used for purposes other than cooking.

3.  Just because one finds bits of cooked food at an archeological site doesn't mean the food was eaten.  Someone may have discarded it after they realized it was cooked, figuring it was ruined.

4.  Just because one finds burned bones at a hearth doesn't mean the fire's architect cooked and ate the meat that was on the bones.  Modern people toss non-food items (sticks, stones, debris) and leftovers (popsickle sticks, glass, cups, cans) into camp fires all the time.  I'm doubt this behavior is novel.

5.  Even if it could be proven that someone cooked food and ate it at one archeological site 2 million years ago doesn't mean all people around the world also did it.  (This is the fallacy of overgeneralizing that I mentioned above.)  Cooking food may have emerged in one locality 2 million years ago and only spread beyond the local area several hundreds of thousands of years later.  The habit of cooking food may also have emerged and disappeared several times over human history, in several places around the world, much like agriculture.  For all we know, the habit of cooking food may have even driven its first adherents to extinction, only to emerge independently a million years later. 

Because of how sparse the archeological record is and how challenging it is to objectively interpret it, I think the question of how long we've been cooking food is a red herring. 

We will never know when the first morsel of food was cooked because the odds of it being preserved in a recognizable way are near zero.  We will never know the geographic extent of the habit of cooking food because the archeological record will never be complete enough to paint an accurate picture.  The geographic extent of the habit of cooking food certainly changed over time, it spread and contracted, it shifted.  The archeological record will never be detailed enough to allow us to discern the range of the habit of cooking food with respect to time.  We must simply admit that we don't and can't know the real history of the behavior of cooking food.

And why does it matter anyway? 

It seems to me that the important question is whether we should be cooking our food today.  If we fare better on a raw food diet today, then we should be eating raw food.  What people were doing 100,000 or 1,000,000 years ago shouldn't matter.  Maybe they did it to their detriment?  Why should we repeat their mistake?

I have to say that I feel better on a predominantly raw food today than I did while eating mostly cooked food.  So the amount of time that Homo sapiens has been cooking its food doesn't sound like an important piece of information to me.

Offline michaelwh

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2010, 09:40:19 am »
I completely agree with what Eric said.

But for some archaeologists and anthropologists, the question of when we started cooking is a purely academic/theoretical one, rather than a nutritional/practical one.

Our genes that code salivary amylase show that we have at least some adaptations to cooked starch. But do we have a way of figuring out when those genetic changes happened? That would be much more reliable than studying burnt bones.

Offline kurite

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2010, 10:26:33 am »
I completely agree with what Eric said.

But for some archaeologists and anthropologists, the question of when we started cooking is a purely academic/theoretical one, rather than a nutritional/practical one.

Our genes that code salivary amylase show that we have at least some adaptations to cooked starch. But do we have a way of figuring out when those genetic changes happened? That would be much more reliable than studying burnt bones.
Thats not totally true. Our ancestors may have eaten roots which can be very starchy.
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Offline miles

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2010, 06:04:15 pm »
You mean raw roots Kurite? Besides, doesn't amylase help with more than just starch?
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Offline goodsamaritan

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2010, 06:07:56 pm »
Quote
It seems to me that the important question is whether we should be cooking our food today.  If we fare better on a raw food diet today, then we should be eating raw food.  What people were doing 100,000 or 1,000,000 years ago shouldn't matter.  Maybe they did it to their detriment?  Why should we repeat their mistake?

Love this point.

I'm sure our ancestors of yore had pretty good reasons with what conditions they had during their day.

It seems our personal experiments, me with my children too show that appropriate raw food gives superior health.  Today.

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Offline kurite

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2010, 11:24:45 pm »
You mean raw roots Kurite? Besides, doesn't amylase help with more than just starch?
Yes I mean raw roots and yes alpha-amylase helps breakdown sugars as well.
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Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2010, 08:22:41 am »
Amylase also helps break down fats, as has been reported in this forum before. It's more important for carbs, but it does also help with fats.
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline kurite

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2010, 12:41:56 pm »
Amylase also helps break down fats, as has been reported in this forum before. It's more important for carbs, but it does also help with fats.
Ive never heard of this? Is it just from experience/feeling after eating fat? I ask because enzymes generally only have one function.
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Offline TylerDurden

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2010, 03:31:23 pm »
ALL cooking topics should be put in the hot topics forum. I'll do that now.

As for Wrangham's notions, they have already been debunked:-


The trouble is that after 250,000/300,000 years, evidence for cooking is widespread, whereas evidence for cooking before that point is extremely rare and most anthropologists heavily dispute such claims pointing out that the evidence is seriously flawed.

So many things can go wrong. For example, the Zhoukoudian caves-evidence has been described as originating from a later epoch/age and that it simply got deposited there as a result of geological processes or wild animals . And burnt bones means nothing in places like East Africa where natural bush-fires etc. are common-place.
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Offline Hannibal

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2010, 05:34:01 pm »
Amylase also helps break down fats, as has been reported in this forum before. It's more important for carbs, but it does also help with fats.
It's not amylase, but salivary lipase, which breaks down fats.
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Offline Hannibal

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2010, 05:37:36 pm »
(...)  East Africa where natural bush-fires etc. are common-place.
They are caused by some occasional lightnings or sth else?
Do you blame vultures for the carcass they eat?
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Offline TylerDurden

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2010, 05:43:27 pm »
They are caused by some occasional lightnings or sth else?
Yes, mostly. The areas are pretty dry and easy for fires to get going once started.
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Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2010, 06:37:30 am »
Ive never heard of this? Is it just from experience/feeling after eating fat? I ask because enzymes generally only have one function.
I can't find any notes on this or the original post. Could whoever posted this originally fill us in again? I think it was one of our French Instincto friends.
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline miles

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2010, 07:21:56 am »
People use fires to scare away predators as well... I watched last-man standing and when the people were camping out(don't remember where), why had to keep the fire going all night so that they wouldn't be attacked by wolves or something. Also on a Ray Mears show the Aborigines always wanted to light a fire whenever they stopped anywhere, whether or not they wanted to cook, even though it was warm. It made them comfortable to have a fire there.
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Offline Dwight

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Re: When Did Cooking Start?
« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2010, 03:18:47 pm »
Cooked food was discovered accidentally by cavemen looking for a more amusing way to slaughter an animal.

 

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