Cooking refers to preparing food by using heat. The process of cooking is unique to human beings and may possibly have helped humans - us - evolve to what we are today. Techniques for preparing food vary throughout the world depending upon the foods available, the culture of the area and other environmental conditions. Recently cooking has become a very popular subject of reality television with shows such as Top Chef receiving millions of viewers.
Historians aren't completely sure about when the process of cooking was adopted by man, and there's a bit of an argument over how long ago man learned how to create fire. Some believe that cooking began as long as more than 2 million years ago, while others contend that humans began cooking only 10,000 years ago. They can't pinpoint when we began starting fires because of the number of wildfires that are caused by lightning strikes. Historians also aren't sure when man transitioned from using fire for warmth and protection to utilizing fire for heating foods.
Depending upon the culture, there can be a large variation in what people cook to eat, and when they consume the food. Cooking is normally very dependent upon the environment, especially upon which living things exist in the area of the cook. Most of what is cooked was once living, such as animals, fruits, vegetables, and many other living organisms. Most ingredients used in cooking consist of a variation of the following essential nutrients: vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Around the world many different methods for cooking are popular, and they vary from each other quite a bit. Some of the more popular methods for cooking are grilling, roasting, baking, frying, boiling, broiling, smoking, steaming and braising. Each method requires varying amounts of time to cook food as well as different materials, but most use some variation of heat added to air, water or oil.
Some groups have begun to argue that cooking food strips it of some of its benefits. For example, when you cook many fruits and vegetables, the amount of Vitamin C is lessened within the food and many of the other essential nutrients away as well.