Food Security and Human Health

A staple food, or simply a staple, is a food that is eaten routinely and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet for a given people, supplying a large fraction of energy needs and generally forming a significant proportion of the intake of other nutrients as well. The staple food of a specific society may be eaten as often as every day or every meal, and most people live on a diet based on just a small number of staples.

Staple foods vary from place to place, but typically they are inexpensive or readily-available foods that supply one or more of the three organic macronutrients needed for survival and health such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Typical examples of staples include tubers and roots; and grains, legumes, and other seeds. Early agricultural civilizations valued the foods that they established as staples because, in addition to providing necessary nutrition, they generally are suitable for storage over long periods of time without decay. Such non-perishable are the only possible staples during seasons of shortage, such as dry seasons or cold temperate winters, against which times harvests have been stored. During seasons of plenty, wider choices of foods may be available.

Main staple foods are derived either from vegetables or animal products, and include cereals (such as rice, wheat, maize, millet, or sorghum), starchy tubers or root vegetables (such as potatoes, cassava, yams, or taro), meat, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese. Other staple foods include pulses (dried legumes), sago (derived from the pith of the sago palm tree), and fruits (such as breadfruit and plantains). Staple foods may also contain (depending on the region): olive oil, coconut oil and sugar (e.g., from plantains).
There are more than 50,000 edible plants in the world, but just 15 of them provide 90 percent of the world’s food energy intake. Rice, corn (maize), and wheat make up two-thirds of this. Other food staples include millet and sorghum; tubers such as potatoes, cassava, yams, and taro; and animal products such as meat, fish, and dairy.

Food staples traditionally depend on what plants are native to a region. However, with improvements in agriculture, food storage, and transportation some food staples are changing. For example, in the islands of the South Pacific, roots and tubers such as taro are traditional food staples. Since 1970, however, their consumption has fallen, while consumption of cereal grains not native to tropical islands has increased by about 40 percent. Foods that were particular to one region are becoming popular in regions where they don’t traditionally grow. Quinoa, for instance, is a grain-like plant that is grown high in the Andes Mountains of South America. Today, quinoa is popular far outside of Latin America.

By – Student – MinamTaloh
Department of B.Sc Horti. 4thSem
Uttaranchal (P.G.) College Of Bio-Medical Sciences & Hospital

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