Monday, August 20, 2007


Food is traditionally obtained through farming, ranching, and fishing, with hunting, foraging and other methods of subsistence locally important. More recently, there has been a growing trend towards more sustainable agricultural practices. This approach, which is partly fueled by consumer demand, encourages biodiversity, local self-reliance and organic farming methods. Major influences on food production are international organizations, (e.g. the World Trade Organization and Common Agricultural Policy), national government policy (or law), and war.


Animals can be used as food either directly, or indirectly by the products they produce. Meat is an example of a direct product taken from an animal, which comes from either muscle systems or from organs. Food products produced by animals include milk produced by Mammals, which in many cultures is drunk or processed into dairy products such as cheese or butter. In addition birds and other animals lay eggs, which are often eaten, and bees produce honey, a popular sweetener in many cultures. Some cultures consume blood, some in the form of blood sausage, as a thickener for sauces, a cured salted form for times of food scarcity, and others use blood in stews such ascivet.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Many plants or plant parts are eaten as food. There are around 2,000 plant species which are cultivated for food, and many have several distinct cultivars.[2] Plant-based foods can be classified as with the nutrients necessary for the plant's initial growth. Because of this, seeds are often packed with energy, and are good sources of food for animals, including humans. In fact, the majority of all foods consumed by human beings are seeds. These include cereals (such as maize, wheat, and rice), legumes (such as beans, peas, and lentils), and nuts. Oilseeds are often pressed to produce rich oils, including sunflower, rape (including canola oil), and sesame.[3]

Fruits are the ripened extensions of plants, including the seeds within. Fruits are made attractive to animals so that animals will eat the fruits and excrete the seeds over long distances. Fruits, therefore, make up a significant part of the diets of most cultures. Some fruits, such as pumpkin and eggplant, are eaten as vegetables.[4] (For more information, see list of fruits.)

Vegetables are a second type of plant matter eaten as food. These include root vegetables (such as potatoes and carrots), leaf vegetables (such as spinach and lettuce), stem vegetables (such as bamboo shoots and asparagus), and inflorescence vegetables (such as globe artichokes and broccoli). Many herbs and spices are highly-flavorful vegetables.[5]

Food sources

Almost all foods are of plant or animal origin, although there are some exceptions. Foods not coming from animal or plant sources include various edible fungi, including mushrooms. Fungi and ambient bacteria are used in the preparation of fermented and pickled foods such as leavened bread, wine, beer, cheese, pickles, and yogurt. Many cultures eat seaweed, which is a protist, or blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) such as Spirulina.[1] Additionally, salt is often eaten as a flavoring or preservative, and baking soda is used in food preparation. Both of these are inorganic substances, as is water, an important part of human diet.


Food is any substance, usually composed primarily of carbohydrates, fats, water and/or proteins, that can be eaten or drunk by an animal or human being for nutrition or pleasure. Items considered food may be sourced from plants, animals or other categories such as fungus or fermented products like alcohol. Although many human cultures sought food items through hunting and gathering, today most cultures use farming, ranching, and fishing, with hunting, foraging and other methods of a local nature included but playing a minor role.

Most traditions have a recognizable cuisine, a specific set of cooking traditions, preferences, and practices, the study of which is known as gastronomy. Many cultures have diversified their foods by means of preparation, cooking methods and manufacturing. This also includes a complex food trade which helps the cultures to economically survive by-way-of food, not just by consumption.

Many cultures study the dietary analysis of food habits. While humans are omnivores, religion and social constructs such as morality often affect which foods which foods they will consume. Food safety is also a concern with foodborne illness claiming many lives each year. In many languages, food is often used metaphorically or figuratively, as in "food for thought".