Reading through this, one day you’ll understand why I often proclaim in my book that “Nutrition” – is simply a symbiosis of all interpretation/s.
For anyone who’s plant-based ~ please consider my prior articles , alongside the pea protein meat loaf recipe (though these still require some eggs). Otherwise for the absolute masochist – there’s my article on prepping / marinating TVPs.
Whomever you are new to this blog welcome to the Internet’s least visited alternative thoughts on decentralised nutritional science.
So “Why” – do we cook?
The best that one may call it a “reason” – is all derived from the instinct from us to (forcibly) assure that a potential nutrient is in its state of complete “rest.”
Or “Obligatory Death” ~ should one may call it that.
That is – in both organic (movement) and microorganic (bacterial) – state of rest. This at least, constituted the very first conviction and sign of “safety”.
Before there was “language” or quantified reasoning (mathematics) ~ we had instincts. At the very least, our ancestors survived all through observation. Looking and observing at the state of flora and fauna around them. If it is moving, resist, or counter responds ~ it is still “alive”. If not, then it is at rest. By inflicting pain and injury long enough – our ancestors knew that life (should) gradually subsides to an end. Before they can then use, or repurpose such an organism ~ for their own sustenance.
Knowing the “what” presumes our ability to identify and therefore observe ~ the above states of objectivity between alive (animate) or not alive (inanimate) – of all living beings. However, knowing that the primal man have “killed” our prey – that certainly is not enough. The next step at reinforcing this conviction of “Safety” ~ in as little time possible was certainly required. The path of least resistance.
This involved heat. “Survival” after all ~ would never have been possible ~ were heat and fire ~ were not implemented.
“Heat” ~ expedites a state of more complete rest. The “How” in all of cooking.
“Safety” and “Satiety” ~ both go hand in hand.
Hot or Heat ~ represents and conjures comfort and assurance. Because it presents such a state that our ancestors can at least ~ digest and partition ~ on “right now” basis. In contrast, “cold” or “to cool” imposes arresting or stasis; away from heat.
Food illnesses one may wager ~ were dire, everyday concerns to the primal man. Illnesses; hence is a result from consuming any nutrient; whilst still in their incomplete state of rest, more so if kept under cool(er) environment. The primal man would be pragmatic enough to say that this is not satiety. This is still a threat. An even bigger force therefore must somehow be sought upon to once again ~ quelling these threat.
If the primal man noticed a change of colour of trees upon it strucked by lighting ~ why not then; replicate this phenomenon to anything else he’d find in nature?
Why not try it on his newest, or fresh find? From pit roasting, baking, or letting it all cook – in the sun. Our ancestors would have experimented with various levels of intensity. Less charred. Overly charred.
Irrespective, inbetween all cooking experiences ~ he discovered meats gradually tasted more tender. Far less laborious to chew. Thus allowing lesser digestive burden. Archeological evidences, alongside theoretical acceptance seemed to suggest heating food – were believed to be responsible behind the evolution of our large(r) brains.
The primal man then finally understood “why” cooking ~ was necessary. For both Safety and Satiety. Gradually, with both time and practise – allowed him to digest and assimilate from whatever hunted to usable, comfortable, and interpretively relevant to the physiology.
Animals ~ do they prefer cooked foods?
Certainly subjective – but dogs and cats ~ prefers cooked foods.
Many scavengers from birds to Coyotes; seemingly prefer scouting for burned or charred organic remains. That is only ~ as soon as any wildfires zones ceases.
Bonobos, an indirect relative to us humans – have been known to be able at starting a fire; and prefers cooked over uncooked. In an actual study – Chimpanzees were highlighted for their “cognitive capacity” to understand cooking. Orangutans aka. “the forest men” ~ seemingly preferred cooked sweet potatoes, tubers and carrots.
Often lived and taken for granted under cruelty name of “Science” experiments; rats clearly prefer cooked foods over uncooked. One study suggests that in the presence of hunger, preference for cooked ~ seems intensified.
Ray Peat, a prominent figure in alternative nutrition shared a finding out of a study in the 1940s comparing the wellbeing of rats being fed a variety of vegetables; both canned and raw. The rats fed canned vegetables, appeared more well nourished. The study unfortunately, could not be found to this very day.
This next example may not directly relate to animals’ visualised ability of “cooking” – but cougars have a strangely instinct to leaving out (yes, left overs) of unconsumed hunted meats, for a long enough time. Rather generously so, presumably -for other scavengers to eat. Leaving things out in the open heat of the sun – implies cooking was subconsciously done nevertheless, as a necessity for other beings – to thrive.
Even if hoarding or “caching” of food do not directly represent a learning process of cooking – these behaviours seen on animals nonetheless resembles our perception of heat and uses it to our advantage for either fermenting or storing – for later consumption. Crocodiles; famous for their very long fasting window (up two years without food) – frequently store their hunted carcasses deep in mangroves, and letting them rot. Crocodiles are seen seldom getting out of the waters – if however nearing presence of rotten meat – they are more likely to crawl out and drag the carcasses back to the mangroves.
What about salt preferences? Institutions aka Dietary Guidelines dictates our pedestrian normalcy that salt deserves no place on the food pyramid.
The Japanese Macaques; are known to have habitual, salt-palatability preference by dipping their potatoes in nearby salty ocean waters.
TLDR; Cooking helps augment our survivability.
It bears worth repeating – that any realm of “consumption” – requires complete obligatory death of something else.
An obligate prey must be free and cleansed of all suspecting elements that deter any effective digestion and/or nutrient assimilation pathways. For once again, an assuringly state of complete rest.
Whether done primitively or assisted through technology – cooking led us to our pragmatic & evolved ~ reasoning for survival from all our prior interactions with ecology.
I highly doubt the Palaeolithic man were lend out a saucepan, a gas tank or a portable freezer from willingly contributing extra terrestrial/s.
We must however nonetheless remain thankful to our ancestors. Having survived through much of the unpredictable and untamed ecosystems.
Ensuring all the meats we cached, milks we carried in our saddles, and the potatoes we boiled ~ all rationalised our very means behind why we cook and eat ~ in the first place. For Life, and from Life.