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.
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How did the first peoples know which foods were "safe" to eat? Food historians make educated guesses based on ancient records and modern practices.
Based on this evidence, they presume foods were selected or rejected based on observation (they were avoided by the other animals in the area) in conjuction with basic trial and error (if it made the taster sick, it was unlikely others partook).
Berries, nuts, fungus, and water sources were especially complicated and concernful.
Myths and legends perpetuated the warnings against consuming known poisonous foods.
Although a simple knowledge of edible plant resources could be transmitted easily enough in Pleistocene times, it seems unlikely that special methods of food preparation were devised before the Neolithic cultural level.
In the case of manioc tubers, for example, which are rich in starch, fat and protein, it is necessary to eliminate...hydrogen cyanide.In order to render them non-toxic, the roots need to be sliced or pulped, soaked in water for a day and the juice then expressed.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.It is, of course, impossible to gauge with any certainty as what stage in the million of years of human evolution the quest for a much wider food horizon began.Probably the utilization of new vegetable foodstuffs was a gradual development; it would obviously vary according to the plants available in a particular area.