What Is Food and Why Do We Need It?


Food provides energy and nutrients to the body. It can be a pleasure as well, providing an opportunity to socialize and experience new flavors. Food can even change our moods. It is the basis of our culture and traditions and satisfies many of our psychological needs.

When it comes to eating, everyone has their own preferences and favorites. Some foods are universally loved, like pizza, burgers and french fries. Others are regional or culturally specific, such as clam chowder and a chocolate chip cookie. Some are healthy, such as fruits and vegetables, while others are less nutritious but still delicious, such as ice cream and candy bars.

What exactly is food? The definition can vary from medical to culinary, but it usually refers to a substance eaten or drunk for the purpose of nourishment. It may be any solid, liquid or gaseous substance that supplies fuel to organisms, whether for survival or other purposes. It can come from plants or animals, and it may undergo several processes before being edible.

There are plenty of ways to satisfy your love of food, from shopping at local markets to cooking at home. Buying directly from the source ensures freshness and supports local economies. It’s also an excellent way to reduce packaging waste. Some stores even offer bulk bins, allowing you to buy just what you need without extra waste. Meal planning, menus and lists can help you avoid buying things you don’t need, as well as cut down on the amount of time spent in the grocery store.

The human body requires different types of food to meet its physiological and psychological needs. It uses the proteins, carbohydrates and fats in food to provide energy, support growth and repair tissue and fuel activities. Proteins come from meat, fish and dairy, as well as some plants, such as beans and nuts. Fruits and vegetables supply vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Food also fulfills emotional and social functions by bringing people together around the table, reinforcing bonds, enhancing self-esteem and contributing to a sense of identity.

While a balanced diet has room for all kinds of food, there are some that we should limit to maintain a healthy weight and protect our health. Foods high in added sugar, saturated fats, sodium and alcohol can all contribute to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other health problems if consumed in excess.

Choosing the right types of food can go a long way in improving your overall health and reducing environmental impact. Eat fewer processed and packaged foods, and choose natural, seasonal produce when possible. Choose lean proteins, such as skinless chicken, baked fish or beans, instead of fried dishes and opt for salads, veggies and whole grains over fatty sides such as fries, coleslaw and buttery mashed potatoes. If you’re going out to eat, try to select menu items that are low in calories, such as grilled chicken, steamed veggies and fruit. If you’re dining out with children, consider sharing meals so that you can control portion sizes.