Entry #2 in our ongoing look at zombies and food: Destroying Civilization, or Why Cooking Makes Us Human
Welcome to our second installment on Zombieeeeeeeees and Food. In our first entry we looked at zombies as “mindless eaters,” or mindless eaters as “zombies,” either way. (To catch-up, mustard, click here.) Now we will look at the next portion of our established definition of zombie and why the heck it’s related to food.
As a reminder, zombies represent everything we at Lust for Cooking are against: mindless eaters who destroy civilization through (cannibalistic) over-consumption. Not sexy.
Zombies Destroy Civilization
Destroying civilization is bad. This statement seems obvious on the surface, but seriously, when you’re stuck in LA traffic or up to your eyeballs in debt, who hasn’t considered that maybe things would be better if someone just hit the reset button? That’s what makes Walking Dead so watchable, isn’t it? The “what if?”
But seriously, without some form of civilization, things go south fast. And no one really wants to spend his or her days fighting to survive. There are those alive today, in the real world, who do have to cope with the breakdown of their civilization either from poverty or war, and I bet they would be the first to tell you, it ain’t pretty.
Love it or hate it, civilization is the process by which we all get along, and food is an integral part of that. The ability for human beings to dine together (and not on each other) is the bedrock of human civilization.
Let us ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let us sum up…
Evolution. The ability to cook is now believed to be the reason humans evolved from primates. The theory is simple: cooking food means less time chewing on fibrous plants and more time thinking and communicating. Our jaw muscles grew smaller as our brains grew bigger. Exactly when humans managed to harness fire is unknown, but every mythology has an origin story about how we acquired fire. It’s that important. The moment we as a species sat down around a charred piece of meat we began to change. We were able to focus on each other, not on devouring enough calories to get by. For a great article on this, check out the Smithsonian.
Zombies can’t cook. They’re basically walking jaw muscles. They chew all day and don’t think at all. They have completely devolved back to their primordial state, well past primates. Eating for the sake of eating neglects what made us human in the first place. Thinking. Speaking. Socializing. It’s about coming to the table, which brings me to…
Violence. The development of table manners led directly to a less violent society. Seriously. Through the Middle Ages in Europe, people would eat with one utensil: a knife. That made the act of communal eating rather dangerous. One misunderstanding would lead to a battle of cutlery. In order to preserve the peace, knives were rounded, forks were invented, and a code of conduct was implemented to prevent misunderstandings. This is the same reason the Chinese use chopsticks, although they figured this out hundreds of years before the Europeans. Steven Pinker brings this up in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.
Zombies have no manners. Really, they’re gross. And I’m not saying you’re going to hell for eating ramen on the couch with your hands while a beer balances precariously on your thigh. Hey, we’ve all been there. Sometimes, that’s just how the day rolls. We’re not judging. What matters is taking some time to eat with others, cordially, even joyfully. Breaking bread and finding common ground. Countries and even religions have been founded on such acts.
Gluttony. It is commonly perceived that there is a correlation between gluttony and the fall of the Roman Empire (correlation, not causation, #science). While it is true that in the final age of Rome, Romans took indulgent eating to a whole new level, we’re not here to draw comparisons. Rome had all kinds of problems, and a propensity for overeating alone did not make the walls crumble. But it can certainly be said that when one class of people becomes excessively over-indulgent in feasting, there is probably another class of people going hungry. This kind of class disparity can cause major internal problems. Look at the French Revolution. Gluttony at the expense of the hungry never ends well. Wars are often fought over bread.
Zombies are gluttons. This is categorical. They devour until there is nothing left. As mentioned in our previous installment, preparing one’s own food can radically help control common problems in the American diet such as waste and overeating. But the real issue is that many still go hungry, and finding ways to bring food to those in need is humanity at its finest. For more on this, check out our “Champions” category.
Don’t be a zombie. Eat like a human. Our goal at Lust for Cooking is to invert the definition of a zombie. Destroying Civilization becomes Creating Society.
Remember the zombie isn’t just destructive. It’s also dead. For reals dead. And death is usually the consequence of destroying civilization. Hey, zombies make more zombies.
Featured image provided by pixabay.com