Was Cooking a Pivotal Step in Human Evolution?

Before you proceed to the article, do not forget to listen to Episode 9 of Wellevate Life Podcast featuring Edward Esko

Cooking may be more than just a part of our daily routine; it may be what made our brain as powerful as it is

Science Celebrity Edward Esko; a successor of pioneers like George Ohsawa and Michio Kushi, has set course in the planetary health preservation.

  • Edward has been the Executive Director of the East-West Foundation and Director of Education at the Kushi Institute.

  • Edward is a Contemporary Macrobiotics teacher & Founder of the International Macrobiotic Institute (IMI)

  • Edward also serves on the Board of Planetary Health, Inc., the non-profit sponsor of the Macrobiotic Summer Conference.

Edward Esko has a keen interest in the smallest of the living organisms and their way of embracing their purpose on Earth. This makes it very much influential for Edward to be interested in the way we humans fulfill our purposes as well. The idea about leading a healthy life is directly related to our eating habits. To dig a little deeper in this philosophy it is apparent to understand the cooking habits. He quotes Anthropologist Richard Wrangham “that cooking food was a key factor in the evolution of human beings”.

Our early living methods gave us boons like increasing brain size and decreasing digestive organs which decreased the time needed for chewing and digestion. What is the connection between cooking and brains? Understanding how and why our brains got so big has been a major puzzle because such a brain is metabolically expensive. In fact, the brain needs more energy for its size than any other organ. Although it might seem being smarter is always better, having a big brain exerts a high toll. Ancestral humans may have compensated for this energy cost by cooking food.

Did you eat a hot meal today? According to new studies, a surge in human brain size that occurred roughly 1.8 million years ago can be directly linked to the innovation of cooking. Cooking cereals gave us a new angle of using the wood and fire which accelerated the energy release from the cereals being cooked. In today’s day, we use

the natural gas for cooking as it’s considered healthy which technically has been the process of nature since millions of years. The natural gas cooked cereals or meals are light weight and help the body in consuming more in less time. Will there be a ban of natural gas cooking to reduce carbon emissions? This might cause us to permanently loose the touch and inherited meaning of life in cooking with all the nutrients as well.

A beautiful combination of physics and chemistry has given us the controllable gas stoves today which help us be “in charge” of the amount of energy we want our foods to release. We have so much of advancement that we are eligible to do it with electricity as well now. The electric stoves give the distributed heat which in a way is a more convenient style. The science behind using electricity is to not bring out food in direct contact to the heat which might cause more energy to lose from the food than we want. Although, our dependency on heat control has made us choose technology over traditions which cost us the lesser precision on getting all the content from the food.

The use of metals in electric pans isn’t as effective as the metals used in pots, wok, and old-fashioned equipment’s. The process of cooking by utilising utensils, pots & pans made from stainless steel, ceramic, glass, and wood are best. Teflon coated or aluminium, cooking without the use of microwaves or other electric conveniences are encouraged. Chewing properly and thoroughly is an important part of good digestion. Practice chewing for 30-45 seconds more per mouthful. Try to avoid eating just to eat. Eat only when hungry and drink liquids only when thirsty. While you eat, relax. Sit with good posture and be thankful for the food you have. Always be satisfied with your meal, but not over full.


To conclude on this conflict of advancement and the endangering ways to live healthy, Edward defines the real purpose of eating as the enhancement of consciousness and spirit. What we need to follow is the habit of consuming light foods and extraction of complete energy they store with the help of heat and light in the form of flames. Light is the ultimate source of life served to us on our hot steaming delicious plate