Compiled by Molly Oldfield & John Mitchinson
Bad cooks – and the utter lack of reason in the kitchen – have delayed human development longest and impaired it most
Cooking is good for the brain. It’s now thought that our ancestor, Homo erectus, first used fire to soften meat 1.8 million years ago. Because the nutrients in cooked food are more easily absorbed, the British primatologist Richard Wrangham has argued that this allowed the human digestive tract to gradually shrink, enabling us to stand more easily.
Cooking also encouraged us to socialize, which expanded our neural pathways and made our brains grow larger. Mouths, once used mostly for ripping and grinding flesh, were able to spend more time talking and singing.