The origin of foods is not fully understood, but we have learned from history that humans have been omnivorous and have been adapted to many different ecosystems. Historically, humans secured their food by hunting, gathering, and farming, though in recent history human settlements and agricultural technologies have increased. The diversity of foods and their cultural associations explains at least part of this variation. Geography also influences food, as people living near the ocean may eat more fish than those living further inland. Furthermore, certain cultures have different food habits, which may be influenced by religious or social constructs. However, one thing is universal: people enjoy food based on its taste. For example, people living in the English countryside may eat roast beef and Yorkshire pudding together, while many Asians eat rice with almost every meal.
While many people believe that meat is the best food choice, the fact is that dairy products are not the healthiest option. Instead, opt for grass-fed meats, which are lower in fat and more anti-inflammatory than their corn-fed counterparts. Alternatively, low-fat dairy products, such as soy and beans, as well as nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are excellent sources of protein. Ultimately, the best food choices are those that are nutritious and convenient to prepare.
Aside from the importance of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, the world has a huge amount of untapped potential for improving our lives through agricultural technology. These innovations include improved seed varieties and crops that may be more resilient to drought and flood conditions, and are disease-resistant. Moreover, improved transportation and communications and better storage facilities improve the availability of food around the world. The world economy is also largely affected by these innovations. It’s no wonder that the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization is concerned with these issues.
Food science is a relatively new field of study that is responding to the socioeconomic changes of the developed world. While the food industry originally provided basic products for cooking at home, there has been a dramatic change in society and demand for increasingly sophisticated and refined products. These changes have created major technological and scientific challenges that demand highly trained scientists. With increased convenience in society, it is vital to ensure that our foods are safe and nutritious. However, convenience has increased our reliance on ready-to-eat foods and processed foods, which has shifted the role of food scientists.