Food is anything that people, plants or animals eat to sustain life and get energy. It contains nutrients like protein, fat, carbohydrates, water and minerals. It also includes vitamins and other chemicals that give organisms the energy they need to function and survive.
The human relationship with food is complex and has a profound effect on the health of populations. People who are malnourished, dehydrated or eating the wrong types of foods are at risk for a number of health problems, including obesity, heart disease and cancer. Food is also important in establishing cultures and providing a sense of identity, belonging and satisfaction.
Historically, human beings were hunter-gatherers who relied on the natural resources in their environment for sustenance. With the development of agriculture and animal husbandry, food became available in larger quantities. The 18th and 19th centuries saw further changes in how humans consumed food with the introduction of industrialized production methods, which made it possible to produce and distribute large quantities of food. New preservation techniques, such as canning and refrigeration, allowed for the storage of foods over long periods of time. This led to the growth of the modern food industry and the popularity of fast foods that can be prepared with little or no preparation.
A balanced diet consists of foods from all the major groups, which help provide all the nutrients needed for good health. Some examples of healthy eating habits include eating whole grains instead of refined ones, limiting red meat consumption, and getting enough fiber, iron and calcium. Other dietary choices are based on cultural traditions, such as being vegetarian (excluding all foods containing meat), pescatarian (including fish) or omnivorous.
There are a wide range of career opportunities in the field of food science. The job duties of food scientists involve performing research, testing and developing food products to meet consumer demands. This is accomplished through extensive scientific knowledge of the chemistry, biochemistry, and biology of food as well as a thorough understanding of the methods used to preserve food and the factors that affect its quality and safety.
A career in the food industry offers an exciting and challenging opportunity to impact people’s lives in a positive way. There are many ways to pursue this rewarding career path, including obtaining an associate or bachelor’s degree in food science. Food science students study a broad range of topics, from the physics of food to flavor chemistry. Through hands-on learning and engaging, real-world projects, you will develop the skills to succeed in a variety of industries related to food science.