Food Guide

Food Timeline: A Fascinating Journey Through Culinary History

Emily Wong is an Asian-American food writer the founder of Cookindocs.com. With nearly 8 years of experience, she has a passion for making cooking accessible to everyone and sharing her personal experiences with food. Emily's vision for Cookindocs.com is to create a community of food lovers who are passionate about...

What To Know

  • 5000 BCERice cultivation begins in China and Southeast AsiaRice is one of the most important crops in the world, and it was first cultivated in China and Southeast Asia over 10,000 years ago.
  • 2500 BCESalt is mined in China, tea is consumed in China and IndiaSalt has been an important part of human diets for thousands of years, and it was first mined in China over 5,000 years ago.
  • 2000 BCEHoney is produced in many parts of the world, tea cultivation begins in ChinaHoney has been a valuable source of nutrition and medicine for humans for thousands of years, and it is produced in many parts of the world.

Food has always been a fascinating topic for me. How our ancestors discovered fire and its ability to cook food and how it transformed our culinary possibilities is awe-inspiring. The cultivation of grains, domestication of animals, and various cooking techniques developed over time have all contributed to the rich and diverse history of food.

In this post, we’ll journey through time and explore ten significant food discoveries throughout human history. These discoveries have shaped how we eat, cook, and enjoy food, and their impact is still felt today. So, let’s embark on this journey together and discover how food has shaped our world.

The timeline begins…

Prehistoric

Fire-cooked meat and gathered plants

Before humans even knew how to cultivate food, they learned how to cook it. Cooking food over an open flame not only made it safer to eat, but it also unlocked new flavors and textures that were previously unavailable. Along with cooking meat, humans also gathered plants like berries and nuts, creating a varied and balanced diet.

8000 BCE

Wheat and barley cultivation begins in the Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent, located in modern-day Iraq and Syria, was home to some of the earliest civilizations in human history. It was here that humans first began to cultivate wheat and barley, which would go on to become some of the most important staple foods in the world.

7000 BCE

Cheese and yogurt production is developed in the Middle East

Dairy products like cheese and yogurt have been a part of human diets for thousands of years, and they were first developed in the Middle East. Milk was a valuable source of nutrition, and by fermenting it, humans were able to create new and delicious foods.

6000 BCE

Chicken domestication begins in Southeast Asia and India

Chickens were first domesticated in Southeast Asia and India around 7,000 years ago. They quickly became a popular source of protein and were eventually spread around the world by ancient traders and explorers.

5000 BCE

Rice cultivation begins in China and Southeast Asia

Rice is one of the most important crops in the world, and it was first cultivated in China and Southeast Asia over 10,000 years ago. Rice quickly became a staple food in the region and is still a dietary staple for billions of people today.

4000 BCE

Beer production is developed in Mesopotamia and Egypt

Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world, and it was first brewed in Mesopotamia and Egypt over 5,000 years ago. Beer was a valuable source of nutrition and hydration, and it also played an important role in religious and social ceremonies.

3500 BCE

Bread baking is developed in Egypt and Mesopotamia

Bread is a dietary staple for people all around the world, but it was first developed in Egypt and Mesopotamia over 6,000 years ago. The ability to bake bread revolutionized human diets, providing a cheap and easy source of nutrition.

3000 BCE

Olive oil production begins in the Mediterranean region

Olive oil has been an important part of Mediterranean diets for thousands of years, and it was first produced in the region around 6,000 years ago. Olive oil is not only delicious, but it is also incredibly healthy, containing high levels of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.

2500 BCE

Salt is mined in China, tea is consumed in China and India

Salt has been an important part of human diets for thousands of years, and it was first mined in China over 5,000 years ago. Meanwhile, tea was first consumed in China and India around 5,000 years ago. Both salt and tea remain important parts of diets around the world today.

2000 BCE

Honey is produced in many parts of the world, tea cultivation begins in China

Honey has been a valuable source of nutrition and medicine for humans for thousands of years, and it is produced in many parts of the world. Meanwhile, tea cultivation began in China around 5,000 years ago and has since spread around the world, becoming one of the most popular beverages on the planet.

1500 BCE

Chocolate is consumed in Mesoamerica, soybean cultivation begins in China

Chocolate has been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years, and it was first consumed in Mesoamerica around 2,000 years ago. Meanwhile, soybean cultivation began in China around the same time, and soybeans quickly became an important source of protein and nutrition for people all around the world.

1000 BCE

Wine production is developed in the Mediterranean region, pickling and fermentation techniques are developed in many parts of the world

Wine is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world, and it was first produced in the Mediterranean region over 6,000 years ago. Meanwhile, pickling and fermentation techniques were developed in many parts of the world, allowing people to preserve food for long periods of time.

600 BCE

Sushi (raw fish) consumption begins in Southeast Asia

Sushi is a popular Japanese dish that involves raw fish and rice, but it was actually first consumed in Southeast Asia over 2,000 years ago. The dish eventually made its way to Japan, where it was refined and became the sushi we know and love today.

500 BCE

Coffee consumption begins in Ethiopia and the Arabian Peninsula

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and it was first consumed in Ethiopia and the Arabian Peninsula over 1,000 years ago. The drink quickly spread around the world, becoming an important part of many cultures and societies.

300 BCE

Roman cookbook “Apicius” is written, cultivation of sugar cane begins in India

The Roman Empire was known for its sophisticated cuisine, and the first known cookbook, “Apicius,” was written during this time. Meanwhile, sugar cane cultivation began in India around 2,000 years ago, leading to the widespread use of sugar in cooking and baking.

100 CE

Tofu production begins in China

Tofu is a popular vegetarian protein source originating in China over 2,000 years ago. It is made by curdling soy milk and pressing the curds into blocks, and it has since become a dietary staple for millions worldwide.

600

Miso soup is developed in Japan

Miso soup is a popular Japanese dish that is made with fermented soybean paste and dashi broth. It was first developed in Japan over 1,000 years ago and has since become a beloved comfort food for many.

800

Arab traders introduce coffee to Europe

Coffee was first introduced to Europe by Arab traders in the 16th century. The drink quickly became popular, leading to the establishment of coffeehouses throughout Europe.

1000

Pasta production is developed in Italy

Pasta is a beloved food in many parts of the world, and it was first developed in Italy over 1,000 years ago. The invention of pasta revolutionized Italian cuisine, leading to the development of countless delicious pasta dishes.

1200s

Sugar consumption becomes more widespread in Europe and the Middle East

Sugar was once a rare and expensive commodity, but its consumption became more widespread in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages. Sugar was used to sweeten food and drink, and it quickly became an important part of many diets.

1300s

Potatoes are cultivated in South America, pasta production becomes widespread in Italy

Potatoes were first cultivated in South America over 7,000 years ago and became an important staple food in the region. Meanwhile, pasta production became widespread in Italy in the 14th century, developing countless delicious pasta dishes.

1400s

Tomatoes are introduced to Europe

Tomatoes are an important ingredient in many cuisines around the world, but they were first introduced to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century. At first, many Europeans were skeptical of tomatoes and believed they were poisonous, but they eventually became a beloved part of Mediterranean cuisine.

1500s

Corn, peppers, and peanuts are introduced to Europe, global spice trade begins

Corn, peppers, and peanuts were all originally cultivated in the Americas, but they were eventually introduced to Europe and became important ingredients in many cuisines around the world. Meanwhile, the global spice trade began in the 15th century, leading to the widespread use of spices in cooking and baking.

1600s

Chocolate and coffee are introduced to Europe, fork is introduced as an eating utensil

Chocolate and coffee are two of the most beloved beverages in the world, and they were both introduced to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century. Meanwhile, the fork was first introduced as an eating utensil in the Middle East in the 7th century and eventually spread to Europe, where it became an important part of dining etiquette.

1700s

Tea is introduced to England, canning is invented, potato becomes a staple in Europe

Tea is a beloved beverage in many parts of the world, and it was first introduced to England in the 17th century. Meanwhile, canning was invented in the early 19th century, allowing food to be preserved for long periods of time. The potato also became a staple food in Europe during this time, providing a cheap and easy source of nutrition.

1765

The first chocolate factory is established in Switzerland

Chocolate is one of the most popular treats in the world, and the first chocolate factory was established in Switzerland in the early 19th century. The factory produced large quantities of chocolate, making it more widely available to people around the world.

1800s

Refrigeration is invented, canned food production expands, chocolate bars are invented

Refrigeration was invented in the mid-19th century, allowing food to be stored for longer periods of time. Canned food production also expanded during this time, making food more widely available. Finally, chocolate bars were invented in the late 19th century, making chocolate more convenient and accessible.

1810

The first commercial potato chip factory is established in the United States

Potato chips are a beloved snack food around the world, and the first commercial potato chip factory was established in the United States in the late 19th century. The factory produced large quantities of potato chips, making them more widely available to people around the world.

1830

The first modern ice cream factory is established in the United States

Ice cream is a delicious dessert enjoyed by people all around the world, and the first modern ice cream factory was established in the United States in the mid-19th century. The factory produced large quantities of ice cream, making it more widely available to people around the world.

1850s

The first ice cream factory is established in the United States

Condensed milk is a popular ingredient in many desserts and baked goods, and the first successful condensed milk factory was established in the United States in the mid-19th century. The factory produced large quantities of condensed milk, making it more widely available to people around the world.

1860s

The first successful condensed milk factory is established in the United States

In the 1860s, the US established its first successful condensed milk factory, which paved the way for advancements in dairy processing and made milk more accessible for people in areas without fresh milk.

1869

The first transcontinental railroad in the United States is completed, enabling faster and easier transportation of food across the country

The first transcontinental railroad in the United States was completed in the late 19th century, making it easier to transport food across the country. This led to the widespread availability of fresh produce and other foods in regions that were once difficult to reach.

1876

The first successful meatpacking company, Armour and Company, is established in the United States

Meatpacking is an important industry in many parts of the world, and the first successful meatpacking company, Armour and Company, was established in the United States in the late 19th century. The company produced large quantities of meat, making it more widely available to people around the world.

1886

The first Coca-Cola is sold

Coca-Cola is one of the most popular soft drinks in the world, and the first Coca-Cola was sold in the late 19th century. The drink quickly became popular, leading to the establishment of Coca-Cola as a major brand around the world.

1894

The first vegetarian cookbook, “The Vegetarian Cookbook” is published

Vegetarianism is an increasingly popular dietary choice, and the first vegetarian cookbook, “The Vegetarian Cookbook,” was published in the early 20th century. The cookbook contained recipes for delicious vegetarian dishes, helping to establish vegetarianism as a viable dietary choice.

1900s

Fast food chains such as McDonald’s are established, refrigerated trucks are invented, microwave oven is invented

Fast food chains like McDonald’s became popular in the mid-20th century, providing quick and convenient meals to people around the world. Meanwhile, refrigerated trucks were invented, allowing food to be transported long distances without spoiling. Finally, the microwave oven was invented, making it easier to cook and reheat food quickly.

1912

The first vitamin supplement, Vitamin C, is produced

Vitamins are an important part of a healthy diet, and the first vitamin supplement, Vitamin C, was produced in the early 20th century. The supplement provided a convenient way for people to get the nutrients they needed, even if their diet was lacking.

1920s

Frozen food production is developed, sliced bread is invented

Frozen food production became popular in the mid-20th century, providing a convenient way for people to enjoy fresh food even if they didn’t have access to fresh ingredients. Meanwhile, sliced bread was invented, making it easier to make sandwiches and other dishes.

1930s

The first TV dinner is sold, canned soup becomes popular

The first TV dinner was sold in the mid-20th century, providing a convenient way for people to enjoy a complete meal while watching television. Meanwhile, canned soup became popular, providing a quick and easy meal option for people around the world.

1940s

Powdered and canned milk become widely used, instant coffee is introduced

Powdered and canned milk became widely used in the early 20th century, providing a convenient alternative to fresh milk. Meanwhile, instant coffee was introduced, providing a quick and easy way to make coffee without having to brew it.

1950s

The first fast food franchises, including McDonald’s and KFC, are established, frozen pizza is invented

The first fast food franchises were established in the mid-20th century, providing quick and convenient meals to people around the world. Meanwhile, frozen pizza was invented, providing a convenient way for people to enjoy pizza without having to make it from scratch.

1960s

The first Diet Pepsi is sold, Pop-Tarts are invented, MSG becomes widely used

The first Diet Pepsi was sold in the mid-20th century, providing a low-calorie alternative to regular Pepsi. Meanwhile, Pop-Tarts were invented, providing a quick and easy breakfast option. Finally, MSG (monosodium glutamate) became widely used as a flavor enhancer, providing a way to make food taste better.

1970s

Microwave popcorn is invented, vegetarian and vegan diets become popular, sushi becomes popular in the United States

Microwave popcorn was invented in the mid-20th century, providing a quick and easy snack option. Meanwhile, vegetarian and vegan diets became increasingly popular, providing a healthier and more sustainable alternative to traditional diets. Finally, sushi became popular in the United States, introducing many Americans to the delights of Japanese cuisine.

1795

The first American cookbook “American Cookery” is published

The first American cookbook, “American Cookery,” was published in the late 18th century. The cookbook contained recipes for traditional American dishes like pumpkin pie and cornbread, helping to establish a distinct American cuisine.

1980s

The first genetically modified food, a tomato, is developed, fusion cuisine becomes popular

The first genetically modified food, a tomato, was developed in the 1990s, paving the way for the widespread use of genetically modified crops. Meanwhile, fusion cuisine became increasingly popular, combining elements of different culinary traditions to create new and exciting dishes.

1990s

Organic and locally sourced food movements gain popularity, the Atkins diet becomes popular

Organic and locally sourced food movements gained popularity in the early 21st century, providing a healthier and more sustainable alternative to traditional farming practices. Meanwhile, the Atkins diet became increasingly popular, emphasizing a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet.

2000s

Gluten-free and paleo diets gain popularity, and plant-based meat alternatives become popular

Gluten-free and paleo diets gained popularity in the early 21st century, providing a way for people to avoid gluten and processed foods. Meanwhile, plant-based meat alternatives became increasingly popular, providing a healthier and more sustainable alternative to traditional meat products.

2010s

Sustainable and regenerative agriculture movements gain popularity, plant-based meat alternatives become more widespread

Sustainable and regenerative agriculture movements gained popularity in the early 21st century, emphasizing the importance of sustainable farming practices. Meanwhile, plant-based meat alternatives became even more widespread, providing a way for people to enjoy the taste and texture of meat without the environmental and ethical concerns associated with traditional meat production.

In conclusion, the human food discovery timeline is a fascinating journey through the history of food and its evolution. From our earliest days as hunter-gatherers to the modern era of industrial agriculture and mass-produced food, our relationship with food has constantly changed and adapted to meet our needs.

By tracing this timeline, we can gain a deeper understanding of food’s role in shaping human culture, society, and even our biology. Whether you’re a food lover, a history buff or simply curious about the world, exploring the human food discovery timeline is a journey worth taking.

Was this page helpful?

Emily W.

Emily Wong is an Asian-American food writer the founder of Cookindocs.com. With nearly 8 years of experience, she has a passion for making cooking accessible to everyone and sharing her personal experiences with food. Emily's vision for Cookindocs.com is to create a community of food lovers who are passionate about cooking, eating, and sharing their experiences with others. Read my story
Back to top button