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20221015 – Catching Fire



This book offers a fascinating and very plausible theory of how humans moved from being just another type of pack animal to a unique kind of animal, very different from all others. This theory is based on the fact that humans are the only animal that does the cooking. The process of using heat to change the parameters of the food, making it much more easily digestible and tasty, invented by proto-humans, produced an essential change in their environment. This change included a drastic decrease in time and biological resources required to digest food, freeing proto-humans to interact, cooperate, and eventually develop the human brain and consciousness. Furthermore, these new forms of application of bio-resources significantly decreased human dependence on the environment, ultimately resulting in contemporary societies with their high levels of abundance of everything.    



I think this book’s main idea is valid and supported by sufficient evidence. It really makes a lot of sense, and I agree entirely with the idea that cooking changed human biology and was a necessary factor in humans becoming humans. I would only add that if one looked at it a bit wider as a part of the overall process of humans changing environment to fit their needs, and in turn, the new environment changes human DNA via evolution. This loop of changes is not over and will not be over for a while. It started with changes of a small piece of food by using fire to make it more digestible, then moved on to changes in the part of the environment close to the body in the form of clothes, then moved to houses, roads, machinery, dams, and irrigation. Humanity is now moving to the next step in this process by establishing control over the global environment, climate, etc. It is a long process, and we are probably still in the early stages. However, it is essential to understand this process’s initial stages, so humans can understand where they are coming from and where they are going.        


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