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Food, Science, and the Human Body

Join an award-winning anthropologist for an exploration of the evolution of the human diet and its relationship to our bodies.



Watch First Lecture

36 Lectures

1
Image of Paleo Diets and the Ancestral Appetite
Paleo Diets and the Ancestral Appetite
0 of 31 min
2
Image of Our Hunter-Gatherer Past
Our Hunter-Gatherer Past
0 of 30 min
3
Image of Stones, Bones, and Teeth
Stones, Bones, and Teeth
0 of 28 min
4
Image of Did Eating Meat Make Us Human?
Did Eating Meat Make Us Human?
0 of 28 min
5
Image of Insects: The Other White Meat
Insects: The Other White Meat
0 of 29 min
6
Image of Was the Stone Age Menu Mostly Vegetarian?
Was the Stone Age Menu Mostly Vegetarian?
0 of 29 min
7
Image of Cooking and the Control of Fire
Cooking and the Control of Fire
0 of 29 min
8
Image of The Neolithic Revolution
The Neolithic Revolution
0 of 30 min
9
Image of The Changing Disease-Scape
The Changing Disease-Scape
0 of 29 min
10
Image of How Foods Spread around the World
How Foods Spread around the World
0 of 29 min
11
Image of The History of the Spice Trade
The History of the Spice Trade
0 of 28 min
12
Image of How Sugar and Salt Shaped World History
How Sugar and Salt Shaped World History
0 of 29 min
13
Image of A Brief History of Bread
A Brief History of Bread
0 of 28 min
14
Image of The Science and Secrets of Chocolate
The Science and Secrets of Chocolate
0 of 30 min
15
Image of Water: The Liquid of Life
Water: The Liquid of Life
0 of 29 min
16
Image of Beer, Mead, and the Fun of Fermentation
Beer, Mead, and the Fun of Fermentation
0 of 29 min
17
Image of Humanity’s Love of Wine
Humanity’s Love of Wine
0 of 29 min
18
Image of Coffee: Love or Addiction?
Coffee: Love or Addiction?
0 of 29 min
19
Image of The Roots of Tea
The Roots of Tea
0 of 28 min
20
Image of The Fizz on Soda
The Fizz on Soda
0 of 29 min
21
Image of Food as Ritual
Food as Ritual
0 of 27 min
22
Image of When People Eat Things That Aren’t Food
When People Eat Things That Aren’t Food
0 of 29 min
23
Image of Food as Recreational Drugs
Food as Recreational Drugs
0 of 31 min
24
Image of Food as Medicine
Food as Medicine
0 of 30 min
25
Image of The Coevolution of Genes and Diet
The Coevolution of Genes and Diet
0 of 30 min
26
Image of The Scoop on Poop
The Scoop on Poop
0 of 30 min
27
Image of The Gut Microbiome
The Gut Microbiome
0 of 30 min
28
Image of Brain Food
Brain Food
0 of 29 min
29
Image of You Are What Your Mother Ate
You Are What Your Mother Ate
0 of 29 min
30
Image of Civilization: Diets and Diseases
Civilization: Diets and Diseases
0 of 31 min
31
Image of What the World Is Eating
What the World Is Eating
0 of 24 min
32
Image of The Overnutrition Epidemic
The Overnutrition Epidemic
0 of 29 min
33
Image of World Poverty and Undernutrition
World Poverty and Undernutrition
0 of 31 min
34
Image of Should the World Eat Meat?
Should the World Eat Meat?
0 of 32 min
35
Image of Should We Be Powered by Plants?
Should We Be Powered by Plants?
0 of 31 min
36
Image of The Future of Food
The Future of Food
0 of 35 min

Reviews

m********m
May 26, 2019
I would give this course an average of four stars. For (mostly) the first part of the course, Professor Critteden focused on the anthropological, historical, physiological, and (traditional) nutritional aspects of Food and its relation with humans and societies. This part was excellent, and I felt Professor Critteden covered well-trodden subjects with credibility and added her own insights in her areas of experimental expertise. Somewhat sadly, but not unexpectedly, the coverage went downhill towards the end of the course – the politics and policy of food. First, the tail end of the course suffered from a combination of “course fatigue” – another example of 24 lectures may be not enough, but 36 decidedly too much. Second, the treatment of most political and policy issues was unenlightening as it rarely challenged conventional “wisdom”. Most of her sources seem to come from bureaucracies (UN, NGO’s), polemical journalists, and research academics and not industry (growers, producers, suppliers, and technologists). She covered the traditional list of global challenges (and then some) and attributed their causes to the traditional list of root causes without sufficient pushback as to the degree of the challenge, the extent to which it is being addressed, the doubts about some root causes, and the costs of premature change. She spent a tremendous amount of time introducing us to numerous “dietary communities of choice” but hardly any to the scientists, engineers, and economists who are pushing the production envelope all around the world. To be fair, Professor Critteden is an anthropologist, which makes such coverage “appropriate” for this course, but this tended to signal an unchallenged acceptance of policy solutions aimed at restriction, suppression, and suboptimal adaptation. Finally, and as a pet peeve, this is the second Great Courses course dealing with food in which the Professors’ coverage of malnutrition and starvation through history omit any, any mention of the role of central planning in bringing on the two worst famines in recent history – Stalin’s Holodomor and Mao’s Great Leap Forward – and instead leave us concluding that it is inadequate market and environmental planning that causes it.

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t********m
May 11, 2019
Some of the series is excellent. Professor Crittenden is an anthropologist and has super interesting things to say about her experience in the field with the Hadza and about a lot of the science involved in this field more broadly. That said, lectures 11-24 seemed like a giant detour and were considerably less interesting than the rest of the course. In particular, some of those felt like I was getting a well researched Wikipedia article on those topics. That's not to say those lectures were uninteresting, they just felt like something researched just for this course rather than the bread and butter of Professor Crittenden's interests/expertise... which may just be misperception on my part. The beginning lectures of the series are definitely the most interesting, and are well worth watching.

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s********m
April 21, 2019

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