Why do we need Food?
We need food to live. Even plants need food. Food give us energy. When we skip our meal we feel exhausted and get tired easily. If we don’t eat for few days our body will become weak. People can die also if they don’t eat food longer period of time. Thus, food is essential to keep our body fit and healthy.
What are the functions of Food?
Food contains essential nutrients. Nutrients are substances that provide energy to our body for activity, growth, and all other functions of the body such as breathing, digesting food, and keeping it warm. It also provides materials for the growth and repair of the body, and for keeping the immune system of the body healthy to protect our body from diseases.
What are the sources of Food?
A single food does not contain all the essential nutrients. Thus we must eat different food to get all the nutrients. Do you know what are the sources of these food? We get food from both plants and animals.
Food from plants: Green plants are the primary source of all the food. Different parts of a plant are consumed as food by both human being as well as animals. These parts are roots, stem, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds.
Let see some examples of parts of plant that we consume as food:
- Roots: Roots store food in them. We eat roots such as radish, carrot, sweet potato, turnip and beetroot for the food store in them.
- Stems: Some plants store food in stems. We eat stems such as potato and ginger as food. Potato and ginger is an underground stem.
- Leaves: Leaves such as cabbage, onion, lettuce, spinach and fenugreek (methi) are eaten as food.
- Flowers: We eat flowers from certain plants as food. Cauliflower, flowers of banana, squash blossoms and broccoli are flowers that we eat as food.
- Fruits: Most fruits contains essential nutrients and can be eaten raw. Apple, papaya, banana, mango, guava, watermelon, grapes and oranges are some examples of fruits. We also consume some dry fruits such as dates, raisins, peanut, almond and cashewnut.
- Seeds: Seeds that yield food are cereal grain such as rice, wheat, maize (corn), barley (jau), and millets (jowar and bajra). Cereals are rich in starch and used in making chapatis and bread. Pulses such as gram (chana), green gram (moong), lentil (masoor), pigeon pea (arhar) and pea (matar) consumed by us are also seeds. As pulses are rich in protein thus it is very important for the growth of children.
Food from animals: From animals we get different food such as milk, meat, eggs and honey.
Let see some examples of food that we get from animals:
- Milk: Milk is a rich source of protein and calcium. We get milk from cow, buffalo, goats and sheeps. India is the largest producer of milk in the world. Product such as butter, cheese, ghee, curd and khoya are made from milk.
- Meat: Flesh of animals is called meat. Meat is a rich source of protein. We get meat from goat, sheep and pig. We also get meat from water animals such as fish, prawns, shrimps and crabs.
- Eggs: We get eggs from hen, duck, goose and turkey. Eggs are rich source of proteins and vitamins.
Animals and their food
Different animals eat different types of food. Some animals such as cow, buffalo, horse, giraffe, elephant, camel and zebra only eat grass and plants. They are called herbivores. Some animals such as lion, tiger, cheetah, leopard, eagle and wolf eat flesh of other animals. They are called Carnivores. Some animals such as bear and crow eat both plants and flesh of animals. They are called Omnivores. Man is also an omnivore. Some animals such as vulture (a carnivore) fed on dead and decayed food. These animals are called scavengers.
Consumption of Food
Fruits such as apple, banana, guava, orange, watermelon and grapes can be eaten raw. But some foods such as certain vegetables, cereals (grains) and pulses cannot be eaten raw. It has to cooked to make it fit for consumption. Cooking makes the food soft and easily digestible by our body. But we should never overcooked the food as overcooking destroys all the vital nutrients in it.
We have mentioned above that pulses cannot be eaten raw but sprouted pulses such as gram (chana) and green gram (moong) can be eaten raw. Sprouting is basically a process where seeds and legumes are germinated and eaten raw. When these seeds (pulses and green gram) are soaked in water for a certain period of time, they germinate, causing their outer layers to tear open and allowing a young shoot to blossom. Now these are fit to be eaten as raw. Sprouted pulses are very rich source of protein.