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A Number of the Best Edible Fungi, illustration from ''The Encyclopedia of Food'' by Artemas Ward, 1923 An edible item is any item that is safe for humans to eat. "Edible" is differentiated from "eatable" because it does not indicate how an item tastes, only whether it is fit to be eaten. Nonpoisonous items found in nature – such as some
mushrooms A mushroom or toadstool is the fleshy, spore )'', growing on a thinned hybrid black poplar ''(Populus x canadensis)''. The last stage of the moss lifecycle is shown, where the sporophytes are visible before dispersion of their spores: the ...
,
insects Insects or Insecta (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
,
seaweed Seaweed, or macroalgae, refers to thousands of species of Macroscopic scale, macroscopic, Multicellular organism, multicellular, ocean, marine algae. The term includes some types of ''Rhodophyta'' (red), ''Phaeophyta'' (brown) and ''Chlorophyta ...
, and so forth – are referred to as edible. Processed items that normally are not ingested but are specially manufactured to be so, like
edible underwearImage:c p-in-sand.5.jpg, Original Candypants Edible Underwear Edible underwear is a candy product which is made into a form and can function as underwear but which is edible. The product was invented by David Sanderson and Lee Brady in 1975 when the ...
or
edible packaging Edible packaging refers to Packaging and labeling, packaging which is eating, edible and Biodegradation, biodegradable. Edible food packaging Several manufacturers are developing or producing food packaging that is edible. One example is made bas ...
, are also labeled as edible.


Edible items in nature

It is estimated that approximately half of about 400,000 plant species on earth are edible, yet ''
Homo sapiens Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedalism Bipedalism is a form of terrestrial locomotion where an organism moves by means of its two rear limbs or legs. An animal ...

Homo sapiens
'' consume only about 200 plant species, because these are the simplest to domesticate. Edible plants found in nature include certain types of mushrooms,
flowers A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproduction, reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The biological function of a flower is to facilitate rep ...
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seeds A seed is an Plant embryogenesis, embryonic plant enclosed in a testa (botany), protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reproduction in seed plants, the spermatophytes, including the gymnosperm and angiosp ...
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berries A berry is a small, pulpy, and often edible fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means by which angiosperms dissem ...
,
seaweed Seaweed, or macroalgae, refers to thousands of species of Macroscopic scale, macroscopic, Multicellular organism, multicellular, ocean, marine algae. The term includes some types of ''Rhodophyta'' (red), ''Phaeophyta'' (brown) and ''Chlorophyta ...
, and
cacti A cactus (plural cacti, cactuses, or less commonly, cactus) is a member of the plant family Cactaceae,Although the spellings of botanical families have been largely standardized, there is little agreement among botanists as to how these names ...
. Being able to identify the versions of these plants that are safe to eat is an important survival skill. Many animals are also edible, including domesticated livestock as well as wild insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Advocates of the increase in consumption of edible insects cite the environmental benefits of being able to raise more food using less land while producing fewer
greenhouse emissions Greenhouse gas emissions are emissions of greenhouse gases A greenhouse gas (sometimes abbreviated GHG) is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ ( ...
. More than 1,900 insect species have been documented as being used for food, including ants and beetle larvae in the diets of some African and Australian tribes, and crispy-fried locusts and beetles enjoyed as street food in parts of Thailand.


Etymology

The term "edible" dates back to the 1590s. It comes from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
word "edibilis" (eatable), which comes from the word "edere" (to eat), which comes from the prefix "ed-" (to eat).


References

{{Reflist Foods