What Is Food?

Food is a substance that people and animals consume to get energy and nutrients to live. It comes from plants and animals and contains protein, fats, carbohydrates, water, vitamins and minerals. People need a variety of foods to be healthy and have a long life. The most important foods are vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats. It is also important to limit sugary beverages, salty snacks and foods high in saturated fats and calories.

People around the world use hunting and gathering, farming, horticulture or herding to produce food. In the modern world, improved methods of transport, refrigeration and storage have made it possible for people to eat foods from many parts of the world.

A person can be unhealthy if he or she does not get enough nutritious food, has an eating disorder or is unable to eat certain types of food because of illness. Eating too much food can lead to obesity and related diseases. People who cannot afford to eat enough food may suffer from malnutrition.

The definition of “food” varies slightly from country to country. In some countries, the term is used to refer to any edible agricultural product that has not been processed. In other countries, the term has a more restrictive meaning that includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been washed, cleaned, milled, chopped, cooked, pasteurized, frozen or otherwise made ready for consumption.

Despite the wide variation in the definition of food, most scientists agree that people should eat a diet consisting mostly of unprocessed or minimally processed foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy and meats, fish, seafood and plain yogurt without added sugar or artificial sweeteners. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids, particularly water.

In developed countries, most people have access to a wide selection of foods and can choose to eat healthily. However, in developing countries, not all people have the money to buy a variety of healthy foods. Many people eat too much fast food, which is high in fat and calories, and may not get enough fruits and vegetables or fiber.

A food scientist is a person who studies the physical properties of foods and their interaction with other substances. He or she can work in a wide range of fields, including quality assurance, sensory analysis, flavor chemistry and food engineering. A food science degree can lead to a career in manufacturing, research and development or public health. Food science degrees often include courses in chemistry, biology, mathematics and statistics. They also feature courses in food technology, food safety and nutrition. Many food science degrees can be completed in two or three years. Food science is a rapidly growing field. It has emerged as a result of the need to develop more efficient ways to process and prepare food in response to changing lifestyles and increasing globalization of the food industry. Almost all universities now offer some kind of food science program.