Food is any substance consumed to provide energy and sustain life. Plants (including algae and some bacteria) make their own food through photosynthesis, while animals obtain it by eating other organisms or organic matter. People use a wide range of foods to meet their nutritional needs, including cereal grains; fruits and vegetables; legumes, such as beans and lentils; nuts, seeds and pulses; dairy products; and meat, poultry, fish, eggs and tofu. In addition to providing essential nutrients, many foods are also sources of fiber.
While a number of factors affect food availability, quality and affordability, the primary concern is how to produce enough food for all people while using land, water, labor and energy efficiently. The United Nations defines “food security” as ensuring that all people have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food at all times.
As the world’s population grows, scientists are focusing on ways to improve agricultural productivity and reduce food waste. They are also working to develop new types of foods that will be healthier and more appealing to consumers.
People who want to eat well should choose a variety of foods from each of the major groups: carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils. They should also consume adequate amounts of water and calcium, which is important for bone health. People should avoid highly processed foods, as these often contain high levels of fats, salt and sugars, as well as a reduced amount of vitamins and minerals.
Most food writing involves more than just describing what a dish tastes like; it should also touch on its visual appeal, smell, texture and sound. To capture a sense of place, writers can draw on personal experiences and explore cultural issues. For example, Michael Pollan’s “The Modern Hunter-Gatherer” explores the social and environmental impact of hunting. Nigella Lawson’s writing is influenced by her background as a professional cook and the fact that she has a British accent.
To get the most out of their food, people should eat it fresh, in season and locally grown when possible. They should also try to eat at least five portions of a mixture of fruit and vegetables each day, which can be eaten fresh, frozen, canned or dried. They should include dark green vegetables such as broccoli, peppers and brussel sprouts, and should eat beans and lentils at least three times each week. They should also eat whole grains, such as brown rice, wheat flour, oats, barley and rye, as well as quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat. Finally, they should drink at least eight to 12 cups of water each day and limit the consumption of red meat to two or three servings per week. This will help them to maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and certain cancers. They should also limit their intake of processed foods, such as ready meals and fast food. They should also avoid foods containing trans fats, added sugars and sodium.