Humans cooked and ate vegetable starches, such as those of tubers and rhizomes, already 120,000 years ago according to research in the Journal of Human Evolution. The evidence came by analyzing the remains found in the cave of the Klasies River in South Africa. Remains of charred food were found in this cave after cooking on fireplaces.
This is the first research showing that the first humans used to consume starch, as reported by lead author Cynthia Larbey, a researcher at the University of Cambridge: “Our results showed that these small hearths were used to cook food and the starch and tuber roots were clearly part of their diet.”
It was a fairly healthy diet, as reported by Professor Sarah Wurz, of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg: by combining cooked roots and tubers with protein and fat from shellfish, fish and other animals, these human communities have adapted optimally to their environment and have also shown considerable ecological intelligence in the exploitation of food resources already 120,000 years ago.
Furthermore, this research confirms that starches have become an important food for humans long before the beginning of agriculture (it is believed that agriculture started only about 10,000 years ago); indeed, starch consumption can be considered almost as old as modern humans themselves.