Food is any substance consumed to provide nourishment and energy for growth and maintenance of life. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water. Different organisms have evolved complex feeding strategies to maximize the nutritional value of food they obtain.
Food science is the discipline that generates knowledge about food, its composition and properties, as well as how to prepare, process, store, and serve it. It draws on knowledge from a variety of scientific disciplines, including biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, and statistics. Food science seeks to optimize the quality and safety of food, while also considering environmental impact.
Unlike prehistoric humans, most modern people do not grow their own food and must buy it from markets or shops. Some foods are not available in all parts of the world, and others may be too expensive. The diets of many people contain too much salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats, and they are often lacking in fruit, vegetables, and fiber.
In developed countries, people tend to have enough money to buy a wide variety of nutritious foods. However, they can waste food by over-eating and buying too much, or by consuming unhealthy processed foods such as fast food and sweetened beverages. Poorer nations face problems with food security and hunger, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where per capita income is low and there are few resources for growing food.
Eating habits and culture change as societies develop, and the food supply adapts to local conditions. For example, in the past, indigenous peoples often did not have potatoes, which are native to South America, but this crop was introduced when European colonization expanded into the New World. Immigrants often bring their own recipes and cooking styles from their homeland to the places they settle in, which influences regional cuisines. The emergence of globalization also has contributed to the wide availability of foods from other parts of the world.
The main causes of malnutrition in the developing world are poverty and lack of access to affordable, healthy foods. Poor people spend a large percentage of their budgets on purchasing food and must rely on low-income stores, which sell cheap, processed foods that are high in salt, sugar, and fat. In addition, they often have limited water and sanitation services, which negatively affect their health.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines sustainable agriculture as “a system that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own.” This involves using less land, water, and other natural resources, while producing more food in a shorter amount of time. In addition to reducing the need for imports, it includes measures to improve food safety, nutrition, and economic viability. Lastly, it must also promote social equity and respect the rights of producers. To achieve this, the international community must work together to ensure a global food supply that is safe and healthy for all.