Catching fire: How Cooking Made Us Human with Richard Wrangham

Today’s guest argues that it was cooking that caused the extraordinary transformation of our ancestors from apelike beings to Homo erectus.

At the heart of this episode lies an explosive new idea: the habit of eating cooked rather than raw food permitted the digestive tract to shrink and the human brain to grow, helped structure human society, and created the male-female division of labour. As our ancestors adapted to using fire, humans emerged as “the cooking apes”.

Covering everything from food-labelling to sexual division of labour to raw-food faddists, Catching Fire offers a startlingly original argument about how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today.

A fundamental question that every culture answers in a different way, but only science can truly decide and one today’s guest deeply explore is What made us human?

Our guest’s work proposes a new answer. He is a true changemaker, driven by curiosity and believes the transformative moment that gave rise to the genus Homo, one of the great transitions in the history of life, stemmed from the control of fire and the advent of cooked meals.

Fire was our first technology. Cooking increased the value of our food. It changed our bodies, our brains, our use of time, and our social lives. It made us into consumers of external energy and thereby created an organism with a new relationship to nature, dependent on fuel.

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