Food is any substance eaten by living things that provides energy and nutrition. It is usually made from plants or animals and includes both solids and liquids. All living things need food to survive. The human body needs protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Food is necessary for life but can also be enjoyed. People use food to socialize and celebrate. The world’s population is growing and the demand for food is increasing. This will require more food from agricultural crops and more food processing. People should try to eat healthy, varied foods and avoid too much fat, sugar and salt.
The most common source of food is agriculture. The nutrients in food are provided by plants, which get their energy from the sun through photosynthesis. Animals can be the primary source of food or they can be obtained from other sources such as algae, bacteria and insects. Some foods are preserved for long periods of time using different methods such as pickling, canning and freezing.
Almost all food is processed to some extent. The degree to which a food is processed determines whether it is a raw or processed food. Raw foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats, poultry and fish. Most raw foods can be preserved by refrigeration or freezing. Refrigeration slows down the deterioration of food and helps to preserve its nutrients. Freezing is an inexpensive method of preserving food for longer periods of time.
A large portion of the world’s population eats rice, beans, potatoes and maize (corn). These are considered staples because they can be grown in many climates. Other important staples include wheat and barley, which are used to make bread and beer. The dietary habits of people vary greatly from one culture to another. In some cultures, eating habits are affected by religion. In other cultures, eating habits are based on geography. People living near bodies of water often eat more fish than people who live farther inland. Diets are also influenced by the availability of new foods brought about by improved transportation and globalization.
Most health-promoting diets contain plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They also contain low-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean meats, poultry and fish. They exclude foods that are high in saturated or trans fats, added sugars, salt and cholesterol.
It is helpful to cook your own meals, rather than relying on restaurant foods or fast-food chains. This way, you can control the ingredients in your food and be sure that it is prepared using a healthy cooking method. A good cook can make simple foods taste great by adding spices or herbs. Another way to add variety to a meal is to use different cooking techniques. For example, sauteing vegetables in a pan over medium heat with a small amount of vegetable oil or healthy cooking spray will retain more flavor than boiling or steaming them. Adding fresh herbs to cooked foods will add both flavor and color.