Why we cook with spices: preventative darwinian medicine

Published on October 1, 2007 Reviewed on October 9, 2015   32 min

Other Talks in the Series: Evolution and Medicine

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Hello. My name is Paul Sherman. I'm a professor of biology at Cornell University in Ithaca New York, USA. Today, I'd like to discuss with you a topic with which we are all familiar, why we cook with spices. Most of us think of this as simply making food taste good, but I'm going to show you that in addition it is a fascinating example of preventative Darwinian medicine.
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For thousands of years, spices have been valuable in cooking and as items of trade. Here you see depicted an ancient spice market.
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For example, in 408 AD, Alarich who was the leader of the Goths laid siege to Rome. As ransom he demanded 5,000 pounds of gold. We can all understand that. But in addition, he demanded 3,000 pounds of pepper. This gives you an idea of how valuable the substance pepper was even at that time. In the middle ages, the spice trade literally opened up the world as
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Why we cook with spices: preventative darwinian medicine

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