- any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.
- more or less solid nourishment, as distinguished from liquids.
- a particular kind of solid nourishment: a breakfast food; dog food.
- whatever supplies nourishment to organisms: plant food.
- anything serving for consumption or use: food for thought.
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 in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, and/or stimulate growth.
Food, material consists essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy. All food must undergo chemical change after being taken into the body, before it can be utilized by the body; this is the roll of the digestive system.
In general, organic compounds are substances that contain carbon , and carbon atoms provide the key structural framework that generates the vast diversity of organic compounds. All things on the Earth (and most likely elsewhere in the universe) that can be described as living have a crucial dependence on organic compounds. Foodstuffs—namely, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates—are organic compounds, as are such vital substances as hemoglobin, chlorophyll, enzymes, hormones, and vitamins.
Food is a biological necessity. Like sex, it has implications for the perpetuation of the species, but unlike sex, it also has implications for the survival of each individual. Social anthropologists point out that food is further implicated in the social and cultural survival of human groups. Acquiring and eating food is thus extended into the realms of the economic, political, and psychological.
Historically, people secured food through two methods: hunting and gathering, and agriculture. Today, most of the food energy consumed by the world population is supplied by the food industry, which is operated by multinational corporations that use intensive farming and industrial agriculture to maximize system output.
In popular culture, the mass production of food, specifically meats such as chicken and beef, has come under fire from various documentaries, most recently Food, Inc, documenting the mass slaughter and poor treatment of animals, often for easier revenues from large corporations. Along with a current trend towards environmentalism, people in Western culture have had an increasing trend towards the use of herbal supplements, foods for a specific group of person (such as dieters, women, or athletes), functional foods (fortified foods, such as omega-3 eggs), and a more ethnically diverse diet.
Food safety and food security are monitored by agencies like the International Association for Food Protection, World Resources Institute, World Food Program, 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”.