Chapter 1- Influences on Food Availability
STAPLE FOODS AROUND THE GLOBE
The type and amount of food that people eat depends upon a variety of factors. Where people live is important because food is produced in the local area will be more plentiful and cheaper than food transported long distances. The available income to buy food is another major factor affecting what people eat, along with the level of technology available in producing and processing food: government policies concerning local industry and imports and the strength of the country’s economy.
Foods that are commonly eaten as part of the daily diet are called staple foods. To be classed as a staple, the food must be readily available to most of the population and must provide the major source of energy in the diet of a particular group. Staples are often the most important source of protein in the diet, simply as the result of quantities in which they are eaten. Staples may be a plant or animal origin and vary from region to region.
Most cultures in the world have at least one staple food. Cereals are the most common plant staple, but root crops and legumes are basic to diets of many people. Cereals are edible grains, root crops are plants whose edible portion develops beneath the ground’s surface and legumes are the seeds within the seed pods of specific plants.
The four main plant staples include: wheat, rice and maize (corn), which are cereals and potatoes which are a root crop. Other staples include millet, sorghum, cassava, and taro and soya beans.
Plant foods are excellent source of carbohydrates includes starch and dietary fibre. In the developing countries the consumption of plant staples may provide around 75% of the energy in a person’s diet. Staples may also contribute 40 to 70% of the protein intake in these countries, so staples nutritional quality is important. Cereals provide significantly higher quantities of protein than root crops, while legumes are nutritionally the...