Many individuals limit what foods they eat for reasons of morality, or other habit. For instance, vegetarians choose to forgo food from animal sources to varying degrees. Others choose a healthier diet, avoiding sugars or animal fats and increasing consumption of dietary fiber and antioxidants.[154] Obesity, a serious problem in the western world, leads to higher chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other diseases.[155] More recently, dietary habits have been influenced by the concerns that some people have about possible impacts on health or the environment from genetically modified food.[156] Further concerns about the impact of industrial farming (grains) on animal welfare, human health, and the environment are also having an effect on contemporary human dietary habits. This has led to the emergence of a movement with a preference for organic and local food.[157]
In recent years, space food has been used by various nations engaging on space programs as a way to share and show off their cultural identity and facilitate intercultural communication. Although astronauts consume a wide variety of foods and beverages in space, the initial idea from The Man in Space Committee of the Space Science Board in 1963 was to supply astronauts with a formula diet that would supply all the needed vitamins and nutrients.[58]
Baking, grilling or broiling food, especially starchy foods, until a toasted crust is formed generates significant concentrations of acrylamide, a known carcinogen from animal studies; its potential to cause cancer in humans at normal exposures is uncertain.[37] Public health authorities recommend reducing the risk by avoiding overly browning starchy foods or meats when frying, baking, toasting or roasting them.[37]
Phylogenetic analysis suggests that human ancestors may have invented cooking as far back as 1.8 million to 2.3 million years ago.[3] Re-analysis of burnt bone fragments and plant ashes from the Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa, has provided evidence supporting control of fire by early humans there by 1 million years ago.[4] There is evidence that Homo erectus was cooking their food as early as 500,000 years ago.[5] Evidence for the controlled use of fire by Homo erectus beginning some 400,000 years ago has wide scholarly support.[6][7] Archaeological evidence from 300,000 years ago,[8] in the form of ancient hearths, earth ovens, burnt animal bones, and flint, are found across Europe and the Middle East. Anthropologists think that widespread cooking fires began about 250,000 years ago, when hearths started appearing.[9]
Cooking requires applying heat to a food which usually, though not always, chemically changes the molecules, thus changing its flavor, texture, appearance, and nutritional properties.[88] Cooking certain proteins, such as egg whites, meats, and fish, denatures the protein, causing it to firm. There is archaeological evidence of roasted foodstuffs at Homo erectus campsites dating from 420,000 years ago.[89] Boiling as a means of cooking requires a container, and has been practiced at least since the 10th millennium BC with the introduction of pottery.[90]
Edible animal material, including muscle, offal, milk, eggs and egg whites, contains substantial amounts of protein. Almost all vegetable matter (in particular legumes and seeds) also includes proteins, although generally in smaller amounts. Mushrooms have high protein content. Any of these may be sources of essential amino acids. When proteins are heated they become denatured (unfolded) and change texture. In many cases, this causes the structure of the material to become softer or more friable – meat becomes cooked and is more friable and less flexible. In some cases, proteins can form more rigid structures, such as the coagulation of albumen in egg whites. The formation of a relatively rigid but flexible matrix from egg white provides an important component in baking cakes, and also underpins many desserts based on meringue.
In general, losing weight by following a healthy, nutritious diet — such as the Mayo Clinic Diet — can reduce your risk of weight-related health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. If you already have any of these conditions, they may be improved dramatically if you lose weight, regardless of the diet plan you follow.
During aeration, a younger wine's exposure to air often "relaxes" the drink, making it smoother and better integrated in aroma, texture, and flavor. Older wines generally fade (lose their character and flavor intensity) with extended aeration.[90] Despite these general rules, breathing does not necessarily benefit all wines. Wine may be tasted as soon as the bottle is opened to determine how long it should be aerated, if at all.[91][better source needed] When tasting wine, individual flavors may also be detected, due to the complex mix of organic molecules (e.g. esters and terpenes) that grape juice and wine can contain. Experienced tasters can distinguish between flavors characteristic of a specific grape and flavors that result from other factors in wine-making. Typical intentional flavor elements in wine—chocolate, vanilla, or coffee—are those imparted by aging in oak casks rather than the grape itself.[92]
Live food is commonly used as feed for a variety of species of exotic pets and zoo animals, ranging from alligators to various snakes, frogs and lizards, but also including other, non-reptile, non-amphibian carnivores and omnivores (for instance, skunks, which are omnivorous mammals, can be technically be fed a limited amount of live food, though this is not known to be a common practice). Common live food ranges from crickets (used as an inexpensive form of feed for carnivorous and omnivorous reptiles such as bearded dragons and commonly available in pet stores for this reason), waxworms, mealworms and to a lesser extent cockroaches and locusts, to small birds and mammals such as mice or chickens.
Traditional foods are foods and dishes that are passed through generations[59] or which have been consumed many generations.[60] Traditional foods and dishes are traditional in nature, and may have a historic precedent in a national dish, regional cuisine[59] or local cuisine. Traditional foods and beverages may be produced as homemade, by restaurants and small manufacturers, and by large food processing plant facilities.[61]
Some traditional foods have geographical indications and traditional specialities in the European Union designations per European Union schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialties: Protected designation of origin (PDO), Protected geographical indication (PGI) and Traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG). These standards serve to promote and protect names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs.[62]

The earliest archaeological and archaeobotanical evidence for grape wine and viniculture, dating to 6000–5800 BC was found on the territory of modern Georgia.[18][19] Both archaeological and genetic evidence suggest that the earliest production of wine elsewhere was relatively later, likely having taken place in the Southern Caucasus (which encompasses Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan), or the West Asian region between Eastern Turkey, and northern Iran.[20][21]
Communication between the Old World and the New World in the Columbian Exchange influenced the history of cooking. The movement of foods across the Atlantic, from the New World, such as potatoes, tomatoes, maize, beans, bell pepper, chili pepper, vanilla, pumpkin, cassava, avocado, peanut, pecan, cashew, pineapple, blueberry, sunflower, chocolate, gourds, and squash, had a profound effect on Old World cooking. The movement of foods across the Atlantic, from the Old World, such as cattle, sheep, pigs, wheat, oats, barley, rice, apples, pears, peas, chickpeas, green beans, mustard, and carrots, similarly changed New World cooking.[11]
Cooking dairy products may reduce a protective effect against colon cancer. Researchers at the University of Toronto suggest that ingesting uncooked or unpasteurized dairy products (see also Raw milk) may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.[38] Mice and rats fed uncooked sucrose, casein, and beef tallow had one-third to one-fifth the incidence of microadenomas as the mice and rats fed the same ingredients cooked.[39][40] This claim, however, is contentious. According to the Food and Drug Administration of the United States, health benefits claimed by raw milk advocates do not exist. "The small quantities of antibodies in milk are not absorbed in the human intestinal tract," says Barbara Ingham, PhD, associate professor and extension food scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "There is no scientific evidence that raw milk contains an anti-arthritis factor or that it enhances resistance to other diseases."[41]
Peasant foods have been described as being the diet of peasants, that is, tenant or poorer farmers and their farm workers,[53] and by extension, of other cash-poor people. They may use ingredients, such as offal and less-tender cuts of meat, which are not as marketable as a cash crop. Characteristic recipes often consist of hearty one-dish meals, in which chunks of meat and various vegetables are eaten in a savory broth, with bread or other staple food. Sausages are also amenable to varied readily available ingredients, and they themselves tend to contain offal and grains.
Cooking can prevent many foodborne illnesses that would otherwise occur if the food is eaten raw. When heat is used in the preparation of food, it can kill or inactivate harmful organisms, such as bacteria and viruses, as well as various parasites such as tapeworms and Toxoplasma gondii. Food poisoning and other illness from uncooked or poorly prepared food may be caused by bacteria such as pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium and Campylobacter, viruses such as noroviruses, and protozoa such as Entamoeba histolytica. Bacteria, viruses and parasites may be introduced through salad, meat that is uncooked or done rare, and unboiled water.[19]

For some foods alternative ingredients can be used. Common oils and fats become rancid relatively quickly if not refrigerated; replacing them with hydrogenated oils delays the onset of rancidity, increasing shelf life. This is a common approach in industrial food production, but recent concerns about health hazards associated with trans fats have led to their strict control in several jurisdictions.[57] Even where trans fats are not prohibited, in many places there are new labeling laws (or rules), which require information to be printed on packages, or to be published elsewhere, about the amount of trans fat contained in certain products.


Camping food includes ingredients used to prepare food suitable for backcountry camping and backpacking. The foods differ substantially from the ingredients found in a typical home kitchen. The primary differences relate to campers' and backpackers' special needs for foods that have appropriate cooking time, perishability, weight, and nutritional content.

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