Heat and Baring of Teeth (or, What Sets Humans Apart)

I’ve been reading about the idea that cooking sets humans apart from our fellow animals. Many deep dudes (and dudettes) have argued that this is true. Cooking allowed humans to render more foods digestible, preserve nutritional resources, and come together around a fire.

Cooking and communal eating also changed the meaning of social signs, according to Alfred W. Crosby. For example, baring your teeth, for most species, is a sign of aggression. If you’re going to eat together, you have to get over that notion. And we did.

Then again, there’s the argument in Ishmael, which as I recall blamed our current state of being on agriculture. See, if you think about it, we are the only animals that make food grow and cultivate it. This allows us to stay in one place and gives us extra time to have all manner of mischievous thoughts.

If we were spending six hours a day chewing raw leaves like our primate brethren and sistren, and trying not to show our pearly whites, don’t you think we’d be different?



2 thoughts on “Heat and Baring of Teeth (or, What Sets Humans Apart)

  1. You invoked the Ishmael! You have revealed yourself, Rhea! You have thrown off the cloak of veneered respectability and shown yourself to be the true liberal, with a throbbing heart of green.

    I think the argument in Ishmael is poppycock, but at the same time, it is absolutely true. I contradict myself with comfortable impunity, for I don’t chew raw leaves like our primate brethren.

    Yes, we are different because we cook and have evolved Monsanto. Collapse also argues that food supply is an factor in the survival of civilizations, and like Ishmael, if the food runs out… population shrinks. But nobody sees shrinking populations as a good thing. People talk about the replacement birth rate of the United States as if it was a national security matter.

    While it may be an important thing to keep the economy going by keeping the consumers coming, but what about long term (long term as in hundreds of years) sustainability? Why the hell doesn’t anybody in policy or government circles think about this?

    The easy answer to my own question is that the structure of our society and government prevents that kind of thinking. Votes are cast for the peacock with the brightest tail, not the smartest brain.

  2. we human.. over-analyze everything, and our primate siblings don’t. it’s not just about the food.. the way we eat. See, we complicates the process of prepare food before we eat. ( but thank god.. i’d rather eat cooked food than raw leaves..)

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