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Your librarian will be happy to help you find a copy.] "Homo erecutus may have used fire to a very limited extent some 300,000 years ago, but the evidence is sparse and questionable.
Fire's general use, according to both paleontological and archaeolgical records, began only about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago...
Before the domestication of animals, it is unlikely that potential vegetable food would have been given to any other animal species first, to see what effect these would have (perhaps one of the earliest functions of the dog, besides scavenging, was an 'experimental' animal to test 'new' foods--a procedure known to have been practiced in some recent African communities).
Thus, even with the exercise of considerable caution, it is likely that many degrees of food poisoning, from mild stomach disorders to death, occurred before man became fully aware of the limits of his food resources-- both plant and animal.
"For hundreds of thousands of years the evolving human race had eaten its food raw, but at some time between the first deliberate use of fire--in Africa in 1,400,000BC or Asia in 500,000BC (depending on which theory happens to be the flavour of the month)-and the appearance of the Neanderthals on the prehistoric scene, cooking was discovered.
Whether or not it came as a gastronomic revelation can only be guessed at, but since heat helps to release protein and carbohydrate as well as break down fibre, cooking increases the nutritive value of many foods and makes edible some that would otherwise be inedible.
A litter of Chinese piglets, some stray sparks from the fire, a dwelling reduced to ashes, and unfamiliar but interesting smell, a crisp and delectable assault on the taste buds...
Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press: Cambridge] 2000 (p.Bones and walnut or hazelnut shells have been found on excavated sites, but there is no means of knowing whether they are the remains of cooked meals, the debris of fires lit for heat, or even the remnants of incincerated raw waste matter...[researchers] are inclined to think the meat was roasted, from the evidence of Mousterain sites in Spain and the Dordogne..." ---History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat [Barnes & Noble: New York] 1992 (p.90) "Food has long been baked in coals or under heated rocks, steamed inside animal stomachs and leaves, boiled in rockpots by heated stones, and so forth.Improved health must certainly have been one result of the discovery of cooking, and it has even been argued, by the late Carleton Coon, that cooking was the decisive factor in leading man from a primarily animal existence into one that was more fully human'.Whatever the case, by all the laws of probability roasting must have been the first method used, its discovery accidental.Advances in technology eventually resulted in the ability (again, probably a matter of trial and error) to modify potentially harmful foods into consumable staples.Meat was preserved; nuts were boiled, vegetables were peeled.But however palatable a sizzling steak in ice-age conditions, the shrinkage that resuts from direct roasting would scarcely recommend itself to the hard-worked hunter, so that a natural next step, for tough roots...as for meat, would be slower cooking in the embers or on a flat stone by the side of the fire.In fact, in a raw state, many plants contain toxic or indigestible substances or antinutrients.But after cooking, many of these undesirable substances are deactivated, neutralized, reduced, or released; and starch and other nutrients in the plants are rendered absorbable by the digestive tract.