Food is any material used to give nutrition to an organism for the intent of supporting the growth and maintenance of that organism. In its simplest terms food is any substance used to supply food for an individual or group of people. In this way food is essentially food…any substance capable of being consumed by animals and plants. More complex than this definition is the issue of what types of organisms are meant. Basically, food is of plant, human, or animal origin, and has various essential nutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, or other minerals.
Plants include all plants with the exception of tuberous roots and bulbs. Animal products may be consumed either directly or indirectly. Directly it means eating that which is produced by animals, and indirectly it means eating that which is produced by humans. The 3 food groups are broadly classified into two: animal-derived foods (e.g., milk, eggs, honey) and plant-derived foods (e.g., vegetables, fruits). Within each group, foods can be classified further into dietary components and food groups. A dietary component is anything found in food that is required to grow or support an organism; food groups, on the other hand, are things that an individual needs for optimal health and strength.
A major function of food is to supply nourishment to an individual’s body systems. To accomplish this, a variety of different nutrients are combined in various proportions to bring about a sort of balance in the concentrations of these nutrients. For example, one nutrient may be represented by a nutrient quantity and another by a percentage of that nutrient in food. In order for an individual to maintain a balanced diet, a combination of at least 1 food from each group is generally needed. A person must eat at least 1 food from each group each day in order to obtain the desired level of nourishment.