SciCafe: The Raw Truth About Cooking main content.

SciCafe: The Raw Truth About Cooking

Part of SciCafe

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


All human cultures use cooking and other means to process food. Why is food processing so universal? And why might it threaten our health today? Rachel Carmody explains how processing increases the calories we extract from food, ways this practice has given humans an evolutionary edge, and why it may present challenges for our present and future.

This SciCafe occurred in the past. Hear the full talk in this episode of the Science@AMNH podcast, or watch a video version below:

Meet the Speaker

Headshot of Rachel Carmody

Rachel Carmody is assistant professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. Her research investigates the biological, behavioral, and environmental determinants of dietary energy gain, with special interests in the energetic consequences of food processing and the contributions of the gut microbiome to energy metabolism. Her studies have shown that adoption of cooking by human ancestors would have transformed the energy landscape, helping to support the emergence of energetically costly traits like larger body and brain size despite reductions in tooth and gut size. Along the way, her work has revealed critical gaps in the methods used for reporting calories on food labels, a problem that threatens effective weight management today.

Frequent Geek Card

Get your card stamped at the information table when you attend SciCafe.

  • Three stamps—get a free drink
  • Five stamps—get a free Frequent Geek T-shirt.
  • All nine stamps— and receive get two tickets to a special exhibition of your choice.
  • Bring three friends who are new to SciCafe to become a "SciCafe Ambassador”—an honor that comes with a free drink!


Show your SciCafe spirit! Best picture posted on social media using #AMNHSciCafe will be selected at the end of the evening to receive geeky giveaways.

SciCafe: The Raw Truth About Cooking and related activities are generously supported by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

This SciCafe event is presented in collaboration with The Leakey Foundation.