The June issue of Smithsonian magazine featured a number of good articles about food and our appreciation of it. One article in particular reviewed the recent scientific study of how cooked food has helped the human brain develop and how it can aid our good health and good sense today.
Our bodies get much more out of the calories in cooked food than in raw food. A raw-food diet, which of course is also going to be a vegan diet, will contribute to weight loss but will also contribute to the loss of essential nutrients that our body needs to remain healthy over a long life. (Raw fruit is healthy, however, because it evolved to feed animals.) There seems to be a correlation between the discovery of fire, its use to cook food, the subsequent transition to meat-eating, and the growth of the brain as humans evolved. As Adler concludes, “The great apes spent four to seven hours a day just chewing, not an activity that prioritizes the intellect.”
There was also an interesting article about how we develop likes and dislikes for foods. And there’s a discussion between Ruth Reichl and Michael Pollan. Reichl recalled her decision as the last editor of Gourmet magazine to run a story about tomato farming in Florida. It caused tremendous angst among editorial staffers but also led to changes in Florida law that had permitted virtual slavery in the tomato fields.
We need to see more of that kind of journalism, and more of Pollan and others, online and disseminated via social media. How else will our young people catch on to the “food revolution?” Jamie Oliver makes good use of technology, but we are going to need more apostles and more of them using social media. One great article will not make a ripple without more stones being thrown into the water by lots of us standing on shore.