What Is Food?


Food is the substance eaten by humans and other organisms to obtain energy and nutrition. It is generally made of plants or animals, but can also be synthetic, such as processed foods. A healthy diet includes a variety of foods and beverages. The main types of foods are proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fibers, vitamins and minerals. A person or animal that cannot find or afford enough food to sustain life goes hungry.

People get food by hunting, gathering, growing, raising or cultivating plants or animals. They may also acquire food by trade or purchase it from another person or animal. A variety of techniques are used to prepare and store food, including boiling, baking, roasting, frying, spicing, mixing, canning, freezing, drying and smoking. Food can be consumed raw or cooked and is normally served with utensils such as forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks and bowls.

The food that is available to a person depends on their environment and culture. A person may choose to avoid some foods, such as meat or dairy, for ethical, religious or health reasons. They may prefer certain foods, such as fruit or vegetables, because of their taste or texture. They might cook foods to improve their nutritional value or to make them easier to digest.

Some scientists study how to make foods healthier or easier to prepare, such as by developing a new cooking technique or creating a food product that can be stored for long periods of time. Other scientists concentrate on identifying ways to maintain the flavor of food and its appearance while making it more nutritious, such as by fortifying cereals with folic acid or finding out how to keep tomatoes red longer.

Improved methods of food processing, storage and shipping allow people to eat foods produced far from their homes. Olive oil from Spain, cheese from France and sardines from Norway are now commonplace in many Western households. Local traditions and customs also influence what food is eaten, such as roast beef with Yorkshire pudding in England or fried rice with noodles in China.

When writing about food, it is important to be descriptive. It is not enough to simply state that a dish tastes good or bad; the writer must describe the specific flavors, textures and aromas of each element in the food. This creates a multi-sensory experience for the reader and makes them feel as though they are eating the food themselves. All the other rules of writing apply to food writing, such as clarity, grammar and vocabulary, but special emphasis should be placed on using sensory detail. This is especially true when describing favorite foods. The best food writing brings the reader to the table and allows them to savor the delicious meal being served.