For millions of years, humans ate the fish and meat they hunted and fruits and vegetables they grew in their natural state, raw.
Gradually, they learned to improve the taste of food, to keep it from spoiling, and to make it useful in more ways by cooking it, drying it for later use, or milling and grinding it.
It is impossible to date these discoveries, as the methods of cooking and drying evolved over a period of time. But it is believed that prehistoric people first cooked their food by about 500,000 B.C.
Although these humans did not know how to make their own fires, they probably took burning branches from fires started by lightning or volcanic eruptions.