Between the extremes of optimal health and death from starvation or malnutrition, there is an array of disease states that can be caused or alleviated by changes in diet. Deficiencies, excesses, and imbalances in diet can produce negative impacts on health, which may lead to various health problems such as scurvy, obesity, or osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases as well as psychological and behavioral problems. The science of nutrition attempts to understand how and why specific dietary aspects influence health.
Food aid can benefit people suffering from a shortage of food. It can be used to improve peoples' lives in the short term, so that a society can increase its standard of living to the point that food aid is no longer required.[130] Conversely, badly managed food aid can create problems by disrupting local markets, depressing crop prices, and discouraging food production. Sometimes a cycle of food aid dependence can develop.[131] Its provision, or threatened withdrawal, is sometimes used as a political tool to influence the policies of the destination country, a strategy known as food politics. Sometimes, food aid provisions will require certain types of food be purchased from certain sellers, and food aid can be misused to enhance the markets of donor countries.[132] International efforts to distribute food to the neediest countries are often coordinated by the World Food Programme.[133]
Restaurants employ chefs to prepare the food, and waiters to serve customers at the table.[99] The term restaurant comes from an old term for a restorative meat broth; this broth (or bouillon) was served in elegant outlets in Paris from the mid 18th century.[100][101] These refined "restaurants" were a marked change from the usual basic eateries such as inns and taverns,[101] and some had developed from early Parisian cafés, such as Café Procope, by first serving bouillon, then adding other cooked food to their menus.[102]
Alcoholic drinks, including wine, are forbidden under most interpretations of Islamic law.[113] In many Muslim countries, possession or consumption of alcoholic drinks carry legal penalties. Iran had previously had a thriving wine industry that disappeared after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.[114] In Greater Persia, mey (Persian wine) was a central theme of poetry for more than a thousand years, long before the advent of Islam. Some Alevi sects–one of the two main branches of Islam in Turkey (the other being Sunni Islam)–use wine in their religious services.[citation needed]
Unlike food processors, food retailing is a two-tier market in which a small number of very large companies control a large proportion of supermarkets. The supermarket giants wield great purchasing power over farmers and processors, and strong influence over consumers. Nevertheless, less than 10% of consumer spending on food goes to farmers, with larger percentages going to advertising, transportation, and intermediate corporations.[118]
Animals, specifically humans, have five different types of tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. As animals have evolved, the tastes that provide the most energy (sugar and fats) are the most pleasant to eat while others, such as bitter, are not enjoyable.[71] Water, while important for survival, has no taste.[72] Fats, on the other hand, especially saturated fats, are thicker and rich and are thus considered more enjoyable to eat.

Wine is usually made from one or more varieties of the European species Vitis vinifera, such as Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay and Merlot. When one of these varieties is used as the predominant grape (usually defined by law as minimums of 75% to 85%), the result is a "varietal" as opposed to a "blended" wine. Blended wines are not necessarily inferior to varietal wines, rather they are a different style of wine-making.[70]


Cooking often involves water, frequently present in other liquids, which is both added in order to immerse the substances being cooked (typically water, stock or wine), and released from the foods themselves. A favorite method of adding flavor to dishes is to save the liquid for use in other recipes. Liquids are so important to cooking that the name of the cooking method used is often based on how the liquid is combined with the food, as in steaming, simmering, boiling, braising and blanching. Heating liquid in an open container results in rapidly increased evaporation, which concentrates the remaining flavor and ingredients – this is a critical component of both stewing and sauce making.
Saltiness is the taste of alkali metal ions such as sodium and potassium. It is found in almost every food in low to moderate proportions to enhance flavor, although to eat pure salt is regarded as highly unpleasant. There are many different types of salt, with each having a different degree of saltiness, including sea salt, fleur de sel, kosher salt, mined salt, and grey salt. Other than enhancing flavor, its significance is that the body needs and maintains a delicate electrolyte balance, which is the kidney's function. Salt may be iodized, meaning iodine has been added to it, a necessary nutrient that promotes thyroid function. Some canned foods, notably soups or packaged broths, tend to be high in salt as a means of preserving the food longer. Historically salt has long been used as a meat preservative as salt promotes water excretion. Similarly, dried foods also promote food safety.[76]
Restaurants employ chefs to prepare the food, and waiters to serve customers at the table.[99] The term restaurant comes from an old term for a restorative meat broth; this broth (or bouillon) was served in elegant outlets in Paris from the mid 18th century.[100][101] These refined "restaurants" were a marked change from the usual basic eateries such as inns and taverns,[101] and some had developed from early Parisian cafés, such as Café Procope, by first serving bouillon, then adding other cooked food to their menus.[102]
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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).[11]
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