While I'm not super into Prehistory (I'm more of a medieval girl), I always found discussions of it interesting in my Introduction to Anthropology class. At a time when I was learning about sexism and institutional racism, it was interesting to find that hunter-gatherer societies of old were generally equitable. Men and women worked the same amount (about 20 hours a week: not bad) and generally held the same standing in society. It was interesting to learn about development of primitive (read: non-institutionalized) religion which seemed to correlate greatly with death and the hunt and, as I got older, it's been interesting to find that we were a bit healthier (at least in the realm of oral health) as "cavemen". But I took these classes (anthropology and Interdisciplinary Social Science) because I was indeed a Social Science major... because my parents thought a major in history alone was relatively useless. As such, we delved into all seven social sciences (psychology, anthropology, geography, sociology, political science, economics and, of course, history). While we scratched the surface of each topic, there was discussion that economics would likely leave the group as it was often associated with business and math and the left-side of the brain. But as I've gotten older, I've come to see that economics is what drives a lot of our choices as individuals (psychology), groups (sociology) and certainly as societies and cultures (history and anthropology). It has to do with the geography of where we live and it likely has to do with how were order our political structures (it certainly seems to drive political policy). So, in the end, it seems like these seven kingdoms are untied after all (which, ultimately, is what I think I was supposed to learn as an undergraduate).
As we learned in psychology, Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs around 1954. And while I should have probably been more critical in my thinking in college, I pretty much accepted the theory in that it seemed (and still seems) to be relatively intuitive. In economics, we learned that the subject was not so much about money in its physical form but, "the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services," (I had to look it back up on Wikipedia). As such, knowing that humans had a primal need for food and developing systems and policies as to how it might be distributed became a bit more interesting. But beyond the intertwining of how we get our needs met, there seems to be a bit more symbiosis between economics and the other social sciences than meets the eye.
After college (and probably after I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), I picked up Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. As a minimalist, I like to read the big tomes of a subject instead of getting five books on the nitty-gritty of a topic. And Mr. Smith seemed to be the ultimate pragmatist, writing in a clear and coherent form without getting too emotional or subjective. But Adam Smith published his magnum opus in 1776 at a time when the world hadn't fully passed through the wringer of industrialization, much less the Information Age. As such, economic realities were based in small towns where people generally knew each other and had to look each other in the eye/see them at church if they had provided a bad service or item to a customer. And so this combination of empathy and economics is what (finally) brings us to our main point about how we live through the surface-level and deeper changes in history.
While cooking is not found in the realm of social science, we do need food to survive (as shown by Maslow). It need not be five-star cooking but a five star chef is a person who got me thinking about the nature of eating animals before Safran Foer. For my twenty-seventh birthday, I was given The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. As I couldn't really make any of the recipes in the book (even if I had the ingredients), I took to reading the stories in between the instructions. In one, Keller told of how he developed a chagrin for food waste after having to kill rabbits for dinner. In his own words, Keller claims: