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Thursday, 28 April 2016



The first humans discovered how to make fire by rubbing two sticks together. This control of fire meant that food, in particular meat, could now be eaten cooked. This development had a crucial effect on the anatomy of the eaters. Cooked meat is easier to chew, a factor that contributed to the decrease in size of the jaw and the consequent increase in cranial capacity.

Raw meat

By 100,000 BC, meat was the main source of food for humans. Reindeer meat was a widespread food. Hunters stalked and killed the reindeer which they found crossing their territory and their lives followed the rhythm of the herds' migrations. Other widespread meats were the ox and mammoth, the latter being in America the principle source of meat.

By 10,000 BC the mammoth was beginning to die out in North America and the buffalo started taking its place as the principal source of meat.

The climate was warming up after the last Ice Age in 10,000 BC.  In Europe the warmer weather meant that sources of meat were widespread so animals were still an important part of the European diet.

Spit roasting was first used by the Mesopotamians around 3600 BC.

During the Middle Ages, when meat used in cooking was often rancid, the meats of the rich were often perfumed with musk, violets, roses, primroses and hawthorn flowers.

Almost all beef, pork, mutton, and chicken were chopped fine during the Middle Ages. Forks were unknown at the time and the knife was a kitchen utensil rather that a piece of tableware.

The traveler Marco Polo returned to Venice after spending 17 years in China in 1295.  He observed in Cathay, that while the poor had to be content with meat steeped in garlic juice, the wealthier people ate meat that had been preserved in several of their spices.

In 1490 The Bishop of St Andrews declared that meat pies were too English and banned their consumption in Scotland.

In Elizabethan England pork was a luxury. If people had bacon, they would hang up a slab to show it off.  It was an honor to be able to "bring home the bacon." When company came, a man would slice off a little for each guest, and they would sit around and "chew the fat."

In late seventeenth century London chophouses were selling slices of meat the size of individual portions to busy city dwellers. These were the first ready to be cooked meals.

During the War of 1812, Samuel Wilson (September 13, 1766 – July 31, 1854), a meat-packer from Troy, New York was shipping meat to the government., which was stamped "U.S. Beef." Soldiers fighting in the war with Great Britain begun to call this beef Uncle Sam's beef. This begun the association between the "U.S." stamp and the name, 'Uncle Sam.'

Uncle Sam Memorial Statue, Arlington, Massachusetts By Daderot at en.wikipedia, 

 Many Civil War soldiers suffered from "camp diarrhoea." A Dr. James Henry Salisbury devised a "meat cure" advocating they be fed a diet of chopped beef patties cut from disease-free animals' muscle fibers. He recommended this same diet for all Americans, advising them to eat beef three times a day for health benefits.

 In 1860s Britain, canned meat was regarded as cheap meat for the poor and was widely disliked for it's coarse, fatty nature. The Navy nicknamed theirs "Sweet Fanny Adams" after the unfortunate victim of a notorious murder whose body was hacked into small pieces.

Prior to 1868, eating meat from four-legged animals had been prohibited in Japan for more than a thousand years.

In 2013 police busted a meat packing plant in Guangxi, China that was selling 20 tons of chicken meat slaughtered in 1967. It had been treated with hydrogen peroxide to make it look presentable in markets and stores.


Americans eat twice as much meat as Europeans, gobbling up some 88.3kg a year; the average Briton eats 44.9kg.

Human meat looks, smells, feels, and tastes strikingly similar to veal; so much so that the average person would not be able to distinguish the difference.

The world's biggest meat company, JBS, can accommodate a daily slaughter of 12 million birds, 85,000 head of cattle and 70,000 pigs.

We can't eat raw pork, chicken, or beef the way we eat raw fish because the bacteria that live in those meats are more harmful to humans.

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

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