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Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells to provide energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth.
Historically, people secured food through two methods: hunting and gathering and agriculture. Today, the majority of the food energy required by the ever increasing population of the world is supplied by the food industry.
Food safety and food security are monitored by agencies like the International Association for Food Protection, World Resources Institute, World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization, and International Food Information Council. They address issues such as sustainability, biological diversity, climate change, nutritional economics, population growth, water supply, and access to food.
The right to food is a human right derived from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), recognizing the ,,right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food", as well as the ,,fundamental right to be free from hunger".
Most food has its origin in plants. Some food is obtained directly from plants; but even animals that are used as food sources are raised by feeding them food derived from plants. Cereal grain is a staple food that provides more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop. Corn (maize), wheat, and rice - in all of their varieties - account for 87% of all grain production worldwide. Most of the grain that is produced worldwide is fed to livestock.
Some foods not from animal or plant sources include various edible fungi, especially mushrooms. Fungi and ambient bacteria are used in the preparation of fermented and pickled foods like leavened bread, alcoholic drinks, cheese, pickles, kombucha, and yogurt. Another example is blue-green algae such as Spirulina. Inorganic substances such as salt, baking soda and cream of tartar are used to preserve or chemically alter an ingredient.
Many plants and plant parts are eaten as food and around 2,000 plant species are cultivated for food. Many of these plant species have several distinct cultivars.
Seeds of plants are a good source of food for animals, including humans, because they contain the nutrients necessary for the plant's initial growth, including many healthful fats, such as Omega fats. In fact, the majority of food consumed by human beings are seed-based foods. Edible seeds include cereals (corn, wheat, rice, et cetera), legumes (beans, peas, lentils, et cetera), and nuts. Oilseeds are often pressed to produce rich oils - sunflower, flaxseed, rapeseed (including canola oil), sesame, et cetera.
Seeds are typically high in unsaturated fats and, in moderation, are considered a health food, although not all seeds are edible. Large seeds, such as those from a lemon, pose a choking hazard, while seeds from cherries and apples contain cyanide which could be poisonous only if consumed in large volumes.
Fruits are the ripened ovaries of plants, including the seeds within. Many plants and animals have coevolved such that the fruits of the former are an attractive food source to the latter, because animals that eat the fruits may excrete the seeds some distance away. Fruits, therefore, make up a significant part of the diets of most cultures. Some botanical fruits, such as tomatoes, pumpkins, and eggplants, are eaten as vegetables.
Vegetables are a second type of plant matter that is commonly eaten as food. These include root vegetables (potatoes and carrots), bulbs (onion family), leaf vegetables (spinach and lettuce), stem vegetables (bamboo shoots and asparagus), and inflorescence vegetables (globe artichokes and broccoli and other vegetables such as cabbage or cauliflower).
A drink or beverage is a liquid intended for human consumption. In addition to their basic function of satisfying thirst, drinks play important roles in human culture. Common types of drinks include plain water, milk, juices, coffee, tea, and soft drinks. In addition, alcoholic drinks such as wine, beer, and liquor, which contain the drug ethanol, have been part of human culture and development for 8,000 years.
Non-alcoholic drinks often signify drinks that would normally contain alcohol, such as beer and wine but are made with less than .5 percent alcohol by volume. The category includes drinks that have undergone an alcohol removal process such as non-alcoholic beers and de-alcoholized wines.
When the human body becomes dehydrated it experiences the sensation of thirst. This craving of fluids results in an instinctive need to drink. Thirst is regulated by the hypothalamus in response to subtle changes in the body's electrolyte levels, and also as a result of changes in the volume of blood circulating. The complete elimination of drinks, i.e. water, from the body will result in death faster than the removal of any other substance. Water and milk have been basic drinks throughout history. As water is essential for life, it has also been the carrier of many diseases.
As mankind evolved, new techniques were discovered to create drinks from the plants that were native to their areas. The earliest archaeological evidence of wine production yet found has been at sites in Georgia (c. 6000 BCE) and Iran (c. 5000 BCE). Beer may have been known in Neolithic Europe as far back as 3000 BCE, and was mainly brewed on a domestic scale. The invention of beer (and bread) has been argued to be responsible for humanity's ability to develop technology and build civilization. Tea likely originated in Yunnan, China during the Shang Dynasty (1500 BCE–1046 BCE) as a medicinal drink.
Drinking has been a large part of socialising throughout the centuries. In Ancient Greece, a social gathering for the purpose of drinking was known as a symposium, where watered down wine would be drunk. The purpose of these gatherings could be anything from serious discussions to direct indulgence. In Ancient Rome, a similar concept of a convivium took place regularly.
Many early societies considered alcohol a gift from the gods, leading to the creation of gods such as Dionysus. Other religions forbid, discourage, or restrict the drinking of alcoholic drinks for various reasons. In some regions with a dominant religion the production, sale, and consumption of alcoholic drinks is forbidden to everybody, regardless of religion.
Toasting is a method of honouring a person or wishing good will by taking a drink. Another tradition is that of the loving cup, at weddings or other celebrations such as sports victories a group will share a drink in a large receptacle, shared by everyone until empty.
In East Africa and Yemen, coffee was used in native religious ceremonies. As these ceremonies conflicted with the beliefs of the Christian church, the Ethiopian Church banned the secular consumption of coffee until the reign of Emperor Menelik II. The drink was also banned in Ottoman Turkey during the 17th century for political reasons and was associated with rebellious political activities in Europe.
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