In case anyone is wondering what kinds of things I've been doing to stop myself from blogging, I shall exhibit an example in all its glory (sans formatted features such as italics and margins, 'cause they disappeared when I cut and pasted this):
Fowler, W.S. (1947) Stone Eating Utensils of Prehistoric New England American Antiquity, 13(2), 146-163.
An ancient culture of New England was quite industrious in its quarrying of soapstone and shaping it into bowls, cooking pots, plates, dishes, platters, ladles and cups. The article also describes in detail which stone tools were used for creating these pieces, and those include chisels, picks, axes, scrapers and polishers, which were made via percussion (or 'banging,' in technical jargon). This kind of stone-working eventually seems to have gone out of usage some time after easier-to-make clay vessels became more popular. Of course, I cannot say whether or not this hypothesis is well-supported - the article is quite dated and describes the stone tools "as an important industrial development between savagery and the advanced cultural stage of protohistoric times." Priceless.
Huteson, P.R. (2006). Feasts and Festivals. In H.J. Birx (Ed.), Encyclopedia of anthropology (pp. 951-955). Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage.
Feasting originates far back in history, perhaps before the 'ancient stone-age' (Paleolithic) peoples. For one thing, it is a very efficient way of utilizing food when there is a sudden overabundance and few options for preserving it. Elaborate rituals are also associated with feasts, including connecting oneself with the animal species being consumed, honoring one's ancestors, and making offerings. As feasts evolved over time, they became festivals, usually involving more than one feast, such as the Inupiats' "traditional trading fair."
Jones, M. (2007) Feast: Why Humans Share Food Oxford University Press [Whoops - forgot to mention the chapter and page numbers!]
Cave excavations show that Homo neanderthalensis shared hearths, shelters and food, which isn't very surprising. Hominins have apparently made hearths for perhaps 200,000 years, and probably made use of fire even before that. Cooking tends to improve the flavor of meat, kill pathogens and soften it so that those with few or no teeth can more easily consume it. Cooking also breaks down toxins in plants, and reduces the number of calories needed to digest some foods - a pre-digestion, if you will. Thus, cooking may help explain our ancestors' drastic reduction in tooth size, gut size and increase in brain size (as brains require disproportionately large amounts of calories for their weight).
Rietz, C.A. The History of Eating Utensils. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from
This web page describes the eating utensils found in the Rietz Collection of Food Technology, collected in the mid-20th century and housed at the Department of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences. There are nearly 1,400 objects from all over the world - Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, Colonial America and Europe - made from a wide variety of materials including metals, glass, bone, ivory, plant fibers, horn and leather. The items on the website include various kinds of forks, knives (including pocket knives), spoons, chopsticks, and portable versions of these utensils.
Robert, W. (2008, 34, 1) Eating Insects. Alternatives Journal, 8-10. Retrieved April 10, 2008, from ProQuest database.
Eighty percent of human beings eat insects - they have always been popular. All over the world, grubs, grasshoppers, ants, locusts, beetles and termites are standard fare, snack food, or even enjoyed as delicacies! That's a good thing - insects generally contain as much protein as livestock and poultry and contain higher levels of iron, zinc, niacin, thiamine and riboflavin, as well as essential fatty acids. Eating insects just makes sense - they are more plentiful than other animals and can be sustainably fed and harvested; the 'cultivation' of insects can protect the environment and endangered species.
Wiley, A.S. (2003). Geophagy. In S.H. Katz, & W.W. Weaver (EJS.) Encyclopedia of food and culture: Vol.2 (pp. 120-212). New York: Thomson Gale.
Various species of birds, reptiles and mammals - including humans - have been well-known for eating earth, particularly clay. But what for? Clays have a very large surface area to mass ratio, and are capable of absorbing toxic chemicals, exchanging minerals, and protecting the gastrointestinal tract. Ungulates seem to do this in order to derive minerals such as calcium and magnesium, while parrots are known to use clays to protect their innards from a diet of somewhat toxic seeds. Clay is also commonly eaten by pregnant women of some cultures, and by some Native Americans when mixed in with bitter acorn meal and baked into bread.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did (which was marginal).... it got me a 41.2 out of 50!