The Importance of Food

Food is any substance consumed to provide nutrients and energy for an organism. It is essential to all life and the maintenance of health, and it plays a key role in cultural, social, and religious rituals. The nutrient-rich material that makes up food may be of plant, animal, or fungus origin and contains carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water. Food production and food processing are important parts of the economy.

The world produces enough food to feed 7.4 billion people a nutritious meal a day, 365 days a year. The vast majority of food is produced and consumed in developed countries where agriculture and food processing contribute significantly to economic growth. The global distribution of food is influenced by economics, climate, and culture, as well as the ability to transport and store foods.

You can help to sustain a healthy, sustainable, and equitable global food supply by buying locally sourced produce and meats. Purchasing directly from producers supports your local economy and can result in fresher, more flavorful foods. Look for items labeled as organic or natural and avoid items with added sugar, salt, or preservatives. Shop for vegetables and fruits in season to ensure they are at their peak of freshness. Try to minimize packaging waste by buying in bulk, using reusable containers for storage, and writing a shopping list.

A diet rich in whole, minimally-processed foods will help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, and improve your overall health. Choose a variety of whole, lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, avocados).

The food you consume provides the building blocks for every cell in your body. What’s more, every time your body creates a new cell, it uses the parts from your diet to do so. This is why the phrase “you are what you eat” is so true.

Stock your kitchen with healthy staples so that you can whip up quick and tasty meals on a moment’s notice. In your fridge: keep a variety of fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, low-fat milk, yogurt, light mayonnaise, hummus, and plain salsa. In your pantry: tinned tuna, canned beans, and tomato sauce are great for adding flavor to recipes. Keep spices, dried herbs, and curry powder on hand for flavouring. Also stock your cupboards with staples such as rice, pasta, tinned vegetables, low-fat cream and butter for cooking and baking, low-sodium broths, and canned fish. Look out for supermarket specials of these ingredients when they are on sale and make sure to buy in bulk. Label all of your prepped and cooked meals and store them in the fridge or freezer for easy access. Make sure to use expiration dates as a guide and rotate your items so that the oldest ones are used first. This will prevent over-buying and wasting food. Make a list for each grocery store trip to ensure you cover all of your meal bases.