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"Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human"


Anyone see this? Anti-raw book that came out recently. From an Amazon review:

"Wrangham reports that humans with even a large supply of well-processed, high-quality food lose both weight and reproductive capacity on a raw diet, and that there are no known cases of a modern human surviving on raw food for more than a month."

How laughable. I suppose this whole forum is dead (or impotent). How did he manage to write an entire book on this?

In his book, Wrangham argues that we began cooking two million years ago. I highly doubt that. Even if it were true, what about the millions upon millions of other evolutionary years we spent eating our food raw, fresh, unadulterated? Sounds like yet another guy attempting to distance himself from every other animal species on Earth, perhaps to justify his own meat-eating (and cooking, of course).

I'm of the opinion that the discovery of cooking was good for availability of food, given the times. However, if we have a readily available supply of raw/living food, nothing beats that.


  • Wanderful_VeganWanderful_Vegan Raw Newbie

    heh...he probably works or was funded by the FDA. Thats awesome! People blow my mind...how freely people are to preach and 'educate' others on matters they know nothing about. It's the American way!

  • Who would actually even want to buy this book--maybe family/friends/enemies of Raw foodists who want to "prove" that SAD is the way to go (pun intended!!)

  • ok,wrangham, everyone knows humans used fire, zzzzz. so what? we might have got on with cooking once but now we can do it differently and live well. if anyone is daft enough to think "yeh, this guy is spot on, then let them get on with it, it's their karmic thing. in the 70s he was in the psychology and psychiatry department in bristol and stanford universities. anyone seen "psychiatry: an industry of death" ? you can watch it here- http://www.cchr.org/#/home

    i think it's interesting how he begins the book with nothing more than a kick at raw foodists and he tries to cloak it in science and cites some studies. this guy is real smug and sarcastic too! on page 20 he scoffs,

    "perhaps it is uneccessary to note that medical science finds no support for the idea that toxins are removed by seminal emmissions or menstruation" wah wah wah. this guy was educated at oxford, cambridge and was (is?) a prof. at harvard. he is in there with the big guns, nuff said.

  • LaEnsaladaLaEnsalada Raw Newbie

    my aunt told me about this book. . . she also told me that cooked food is easier to digest and digests faster than raw food. ha ha. . .

  • From NPR.org (National Public Radio)


    Michael Pollan, by the way, is an acclaimed author, columnist, activist, and professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He has authored Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, The Botany of Desire, and others. If you don't know of him, I would suggest reading about him and his views before criticizing him.

    "MICHAEL POLLAN: Yeah, it may well be - and I think that this is a fascinating avenue of research - it may well be that cooking is fundamental to our identity as humans. It may be the discovery of not fire, but cooking, that transformed us from primates who, you know, subsisted on raw food, who spent six hours a day chewing it - because raw food is very hard to digest.

    Cooked food is very different than raw food from a biological perspective. It's easier to digest, and you get more calories out of it when it's cooked. It kind of unlocks the nutrients very often. And so that when humans discovered this way of dealing with food, that they could cook it, they suddenly had this new source of calories and that it allowed us, as an evolutionary matter, allowed our brains to get bigger and our guts to shrink because we didn't need the huge digestive systems that, say, apes need to digest all that raw plant matter.

    So it may well be cooking that allowed the human brain to develop, and this is a theory that's been advanced more recent by a Harvard anthropologist named Richard Wrangham in a terrific book called "Catching Fire.""

  • eechoeecho Raw Newbie

    I think its a valid argument that human beings are evolving to cooked foods. We'll have to evolve that way, or else become extinct. However, I think its a stronger arugment that we should evolve back, using technology such as blending, in order "unlock" nutrients and chew for us. Why push through centuries of disease just to evolve to cooking when we can go back instead and feel great right away?

    Also, I really don't think raw is the real issue. There are bigger gaps to close before we close that one. Who cares if we should steam the veggies or eat them raw? The real issue is whether we should eat a donut or an apple, a pizza or a salad. No one will argue these questions - its just a matter of getting people to care about them.

  • FortuneFortune Raw Newbie

    This book is a classic example of one person thinking they have all the answers for all humans on the planet.

    Unfortunately, no one has that.

    I always see value in examining issues from an anthropological and evolutionary point of view - when I am able to trace its origins and understand the fundamentals of development, I can better understand its impact on my life and health.


    Each of us has only our own health to manage and learn from. What works for Susie and Joe may not work for me, and often, experimentation is key to discovering what works/doesn't work, or also, what is liked/disliked. After all, not everyone following a raw food diet is doing it just for the health benefits - nor are all people eating a SAD diet doing it just for the flavour. There are many factors in a person's life that will influence their dietary habits; it's not our job to judge these factors or people. It is only our job to look after ourselves.

    Arguing over how long humans have been cooking with fire seems like a moot point if :


    I don't need research or facts to do what I know is right for MY body.

  • As to lose weight - ha, I wish! Part of the reason for going raw for me was weight loss. Well, it's been a few weeks on high raw and I lost maybe two pounds... been wondering what I am doing wrong.

  • rawcanadianrawcanadian Raw Newbie

    It's funny how people on this site, who are not doctors but give professional health advice, can put down a well written book.

    The raw food diet isn't really raw, and tools used for "cooking" are used all the time in the diet.

    Blenders for example, I didn't know people used blenders a million years ago, or specialty knives to cut their food, or food dehydrators, or refridgerators, or sprouted with specialy tools like glass jars with special covers, etc. and washed their food in special cleaning solutions, and had internet access to order "special" food online, since food from ALL over the world wouldn't be available to people in specific locations, now would it??? And that we need books about raw to tell us what to eat because we are too stupid (ignorant) to know any better.


    And if people were capable of dehydrating, say in the natural sun, why were they not capable of throwing food onto fire??

    Why would this idea seem unnatural???

    The longest living people on the planet eat cooked food including some meat, fish and eggs and lots of tea.

    In fact their is no known culture on the planet that doesn;t cook.

    People are too smart too assume that we didn't think about cooking our foods until say 50 000 years ago.

    People moved away from the equator, and skin had enough time to change colors, but what we ate didn't??? Can somebody here elaborate on this.

    Don't get me wrong, I think the raw food diet is really good , and can be done if done correctly, and that most people that went about it on their own would be lucky to last one month.

    Our knowledge about nutrition and specialty tools enables us to eat this way, but it is not natural, and again not really necessary to our survival, at least not proven.

    I respect the raw diet, but until I see a very healthy looking 120 year old raw foodie, i will not believe this is the best way to eat.

    It is good to have a variety of foods though, and raw fruits and veggies are great for us, and yes everybody should be eating them. But cooked rice , and potatoes, and steamed veggies are just as good, and people ARE thriving on them, like the longest living people on the planet.

    Sorry for the rant, but just wondering why we can not eat cooked food which according to this site is unnatural, yet we can drive cars, use the internet, build cities, etc. Are all those things unnatural, but ok for people that have to eat raw naturally???

  • eechoeecho Raw Newbie

    You have good points. Some people go to the extreme calling things unnatural, etc. And also some will make one shift out of being stuck in the SAD mindset to being stuck in the raw mindset, being open-minded only during the shift. This is in contrast with becoming open-minded completely, even with the new revolutionary concepts.

    However, the guy's book does still seem a bit lame.

  • RawKidChefRawKidChef Raw Newbie

    did you guys check those reviews out? it's despicable!

  • Pretty sure our genetics and a long history of evolution made us human, not whether or not we cooked our food. Just throwing that out into the universe :)

    It's funny how we sometimes get caught up in what we think is "natural" for us as human beings based on history. You know what? I don't CARE what my ancestry did! I'm doing what I know to be good for me RIGHT NOW. Every day we learn things that enable us to make decisions for the present - that's how we continue to evolve as a species. What does it matter if my great-great-great-great-great grandfather ate a pickled beetroot-only diet? Or a meat-only diet? Out with the old, in with the new! (even if the new is old... you get my drift :)

  • freewitheftfreewitheft Raw Newbie

    Bushcrazyraw, I think that's an important point - doing what is right for us, right now.

    To me, the leading criterion of a good diet is the effect it has on one's lifespan and quality of life as we age. It seems that the only culture that has gotten even close to achieving what should be the normal human life span of around 120 years is the Japanese. We should be watching everything they do more closely, and I'm sure there's a lot more than just diet involved or how much they cook their food!

  • rawcanadianrawcanadian Raw Newbie

    "did you guys check those reviews out? it's despicable!"

    All the review I have read are good, like amazon.com or doing a google.

    Anyway, it's nice to have a different view on the subject, instead or thinking it HAS to be this way or that, and that is it.

    They thought Darwin was a nut too, yet, we all know he had the right idea.

    Many raw foodists say that the raw diet is good for the planet, which I agree is true.

    Those same people that follow the diet DRIVE IN CARS!!!!

    They use electricity coming from nuclear power plants.

    Does anybody else on this site see this???

    Yes I agree fruits and veggies are good and I eat a lot of them.

    But if you really want to be raw you can not have it both way IMO.

    The reason for the lifestyle makes no sense unless you can go all the way.

    We are human, damn it, we wear clothes, this is not natural as well.

    Should somebody come up wtih the RAW Naked Diet???

    Come on now, lets get with the program folks.



  • maybe the book is an accurate history of our socio-economic development, but does it account for the advancements in blending and juicing over the last few decades? i mean, it's great that cooking brought humans to the level it has reached in the last few millennia, but who's to say that the blender and the juicer won't take us to the next level?

    my vitamix does a much better job than my teeth ever could. when my blender is done with those greens, they are ready for my body to process. for real.

    i'm no luddite, and i don't think most of the world reading that book is either. harnessing electricity could arguably be more significant to our development as a species than fire even. it's still very new technology, and just wait until we go renewable. it's going to be off the hook!

    viva la vitamix! viva wheatgrass juice!

  • freewitheftfreewitheft Raw Newbie

    LOL tangerina! That's an awesome POV!

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