The Importance of Food


Food is any nutrient-rich substance consumed to support life and growth. It is usually of plant or animal origin and contains essential vitamins, minerals, and/or fats. Different organisms have distinctive feeding behaviours that enable them to satisfy their metabolism needs within specific ecological niches. Food can also refer to a dish or a drink associated with a particular culture.

Healthy eating involves selecting a variety of nutritious foods and beverages and getting the amount of calories that is right for you. It also includes limiting added sugars and salt.

The main sources of food for people are cereal grains, fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, fish, meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes. The World Health Organization recommends that these foods provide about 60 percent of the daily energy a person needs.

Grains are the seed-bearing parts of grasses, such as wheat, rice, barley, oats, and corn (maize). People have grown these crops since the beginning of agriculture. They are a major source of protein and fiber. Vegetables are the most important non-grain foods and include green leafy vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, squash, mushrooms, onions, and potatoes. Most are high in vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber.

Poultry, such as chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese, are a popular source of meat worldwide. In addition to being a convenient source of protein, it is an inexpensive food. It is often eaten roasted, braised, or fried. Poultry is also a common ingredient in dishes such as soups, stews, and curries.

The food processing industry is one of the largest manufacturing industries in the United States. It includes canneries, processors, producers, and food manufacturers.

Many of the dishes we associate with a country or region’s cuisine were invented by immigrants. For example, the popular Indian dish chicken tikka masala was created by a Pakistani chef in Glasgow, Scotland. Other examples of foods that have changed the face of cuisines around the world include Chinese-American food and tacos.

Food is a basic need for all living things. The type of food we eat determines our health, and can affect how we feel. Eating a diet rich in nutrients, including healthy carbohydrates from whole grains and fruits, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats from vegetable oils and nuts, can help us live longer, healthier lives. Choosing a variety of foods from each group can help prevent obesity and other health problems. The USDA’s MyPlate plan can help you decide what to eat each day to get the most nutrition from your food.