Food is a substance that can be ingested by humans regardless of its nutritional value. This includes water and drink, gum, and substances that are used as ingredients within food preparation.
History of human food habits
Humans typically consume both plants and animals, and early humans were believed to hunt and gather for food collection. At least 10,000 years ago humans founded agriculture, which has changed the way people eat food — and what kind of food they eat. Agriculture has led to population growth, city development and the spread of infectious disease. The kind and type of food — and the way it is prepared — varies greatly by culture and region.
Food acquisition and consumption
Food may be obtained by ranching, farming, hunting, fishing, growing or foraging. In developed nations, the supply of food is dependent on agriculture and farming technologies that strive to maximize the amount of food that can be produced and minimize the cost of production. Pesticides help to promote crop yield and prevent loss of crops or animals to parasites.
Most food is then prepared for safety, flavor and palatability. This involves washing, cutting and trimming, or the addition of ingredients, like spices. Food can then be mixed, heated, cooled or cooked by a variety of means.
When it is prepared, the act of eating the final product is called a meal. Meals play an important role on social occasions and are central to the celebration of many festivals, like Thanksgiving in the United States. Meals can vary around the world, in number consumed daily, their size, how they are prepared and what they are made of. This variety is attributed to local factors that include ecology, climate, tradition, industrialization and economy. In societies where there is a market for it, meals are sold pre-prepared for immediate consumption in retail locations.
Other uses of 'food'
- Food science is the study of food.
- In English, “food” is often used when speaking figuratively, for example, the phrase “food for thought.”