As several people have pointed out, math develops abstract thinking skills and problem solving skills that can be invaluable in everyday life without "plugging" numbers into a formula.
Food processing, cooking or baking, are processes that can be modeled beautifully using math. It is done extensively by companies that sell premade food for example. Best processing practices can increase the quality and safety of the product, reduce manufacturing costs and energy use.
For example, my students developed a computational model that computes the temperature distribution and the moisture content in every portion of a steak, meat loaf and chicken being cooked using different cooking methods. Playing with the parameters of cooking, these distributions can be varied which is going to affect the taste and the appearance of the food. By better understanding the way the cooking/baking process happens, it is possible to prepare better tasting food (possibly in shorter time with less energy use). Obviously the some of this can be accomplished - at least on a small scale- by trial and error, whithout fully understanding what happens, how it hppens and why it happens. In large scale food production optimizing the process is essential. Math helps us understand first, and with the undertanding gained, control pocesses in everyday life better.
Math allows estimating breaking distances in traffic or designing effective motion patters (geometry, people and the ball moving at different speeds in different formations) in a football game.
Last edited by RebelGSD; 01-15-2013 at 08:22 AM.