The Importance of Food


Food is the material that fuels the human body and sustains life. It plays an important role in a person’s health, a family’s nutrition and a culture’s celebrations. Skipping meals or having an unbalanced diet can lead to malnutrition, which can cause a variety of health problems. Eating too much or not enough can also have negative effects.

A balanced diet includes a variety of foods from all of the major food groups. These include fruits, vegetables; whole grains; protein-rich foods like beans and nuts; dairy; and healthy fats. The food pyramid outlines the recommended amount of these foods that people should eat each day to get the nutrients they need.

The food a person eats may influence their mood, behavior and ability to learn. It can also impact their health and immune system. People can have a wide range of eating habits, which may be influenced by their culture and social environment. People can also have specific dietary needs, such as a gluten allergy or lactose intolerance.

Prehistoric humans were hunter-gatherers, which meant they had to find their own food. As people began to domesticate plants and animals, they were able to grow their own crops and control the supply of meat. This gave rise to the modern culinary arts and a number of popular dishes, including hot peppers and corn (maize).

In addition to serving as sustenance, food has served as a means of cultural identity. It has become a topic for many literary works, including the classic Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s “The Physiology of Taste” (1825) and more contemporary cookbooks by Elizabeth David and Claudia Roden. In the 20th century, M.F.K. Fisher became a food writer of epicurean proportions and elevated home cooking to the level of art.

The food industry’s biggest driver is globalization, which has allowed for the cultivation of more ingredients in a centralized location and distribution to a wider market. However, local sources are becoming more prominent, as is the trend toward sustainable food choices.

People who buy locally produced foods benefit from freshness and quality. They also help support their community’s economy. Additionally, they may save money by buying in bulk and eliminating packaging waste. A few key practices for sustainable consumption are meal planning, shopping lists and using apps to locate local farmers’ markets or CSAs.

A food’s aroma, texture, appearance and flavor can all impact a person’s experience of it. Describe these qualities when writing about your favorite dish, and highlight what makes it special.

In this Activity, youth will use the Food Guide poster to learn about the 4 different Food Groups and why a variety of foods is necessary for the body. They will also explore the benefits of making healthy food choices. The Activity is designed for youth in grades 5-12 and can be done independently or as part of a class. Print and save the Food Guide poster in your Workpads to reuse with other groups.