Free with RSVP, for adults 21+
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 event is produced in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History.
Ann and Gordon Getty
Camilla and George Smith
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.