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215px, Unprocessed seeds of spelt, a historically important staple food A staple food, food staple, or simply a staple, is a
food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology ...
that is eaten routinely and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet for a given people, supplying a large fraction of energy needs and generally forming a significant proportion of the intake of other
nutrient A nutrient is a substance used by an organism to survive, grow, and reproduce. The requirement for dietary nutrient intake applies to animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biolo ...
s as well. A staple food of a specific society may be eaten as often as every day or every meal, and most people live on a diet based on just a small number of food staples. Specific staples vary from place to place, but typically are inexpensive or readily available foods that supply one or more of the
macronutrient A nutrient is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, anything that has mass and ta ...
s needed for survival and health:
carbohydrate is a disaccharide found in animal milk. It consists of a molecule of D-galactose and a molecule of D-glucose bonded by beta-1-4 glycosidic linkage. A carbohydrate () is a biomolecule consisting of carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) ato ...
s,
protein Proteins are large biomolecules or macromolecules that are comprised of one or more long chains of amino acid residue (biochemistry), residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including Enzyme catalysis, catalysing m ...
s, fats,
minerals In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the proces ...
, and
vitamin A vitamin is an organic molecule (or a set of molecules closely related chemically, i.e. vitamers) that is an Nutrient#Essential nutrients, essential micronutrient which an organism needs in small quantities for the proper functioning of its m ...
s. Typical examples include tubers and roots, grains, legumes, and seeds. Among them, cereals, legumes, tubers and roots account for about 90% of the world's food calories intake. Early agricultural civilizations valued the foods that they established as staples because, in addition to providing necessary
nutrition Nutrition is the biochemical and physiological process by which an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, pr ...
, they generally are suitable for storage over long periods of time without decay. Such nonperishable foods are the only possible staples during seasons of shortage, such as
dry season The dry season is a yearly period of low rainfall, especially in the tropics The tropics are the region of Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at N and the Tropi ...
s or cold
temperate In geography, the temperate climates of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continent A continent is one ...
winters, against which times harvests have been stored. During seasons of plenty, wider choices of foods may be available. Staple foods are derived either from vegetables or animal products, and common staples include
cereal A cereal is any grass cultivated (grown) for the edible components of its grain A grain is a small, hard, dry seed, with or without an attached husk, hull or fruit layer, harvested for human or animal consumption. A grain crop is a grain-pro ...
s (such as
rice Rice is the seed A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reproduction Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which n ...
,
wheat Wheat is a grass widely Agriculture, cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The Taxonomy of wheat, many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most widely grown is common wheat (''T. aest ...

wheat
,
maize Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn ( North American and Australian English), is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as F ...
, millet, and sorghum), starchy tubers or root vegetables (such as potatoes, cassava, sweet potatoes, Yam (vegetable), yams, or taro), meat, Fish as food, fish, Egg as food, eggs, milk, and cheese, and dried legumes such as lentils and other beans. Other staple foods include sago (derived from the pith of the sago palm tree), and fruits such as breadfruit and Plantain (cooking), plantains. Staple foods may also include (depending on the region): olive oil, coconut oil, and sugar (e.g. from plantains).


Demographics

The dominant staple foods in different parts of the world are a function of weather patterns, local terrain, farming constraints, acquired tastes and ecosystems. For example, the main energy source staples in the average African diet are cereals (46 percent), roots and tubers (20 percent) and animal products (7 percent). In Western Europe the main staples in the average diet are animal products (33 percent), cereals (26 percent), and roots and tubers (4 percent). Most of the human population lives on a diet based on one or more of the following staples: cereals (
rice Rice is the seed A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reproduction Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which n ...
,
wheat Wheat is a grass widely Agriculture, cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The Taxonomy of wheat, many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most widely grown is common wheat (''T. aest ...

wheat
,
maize Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn ( North American and Australian English), is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as F ...
(corn), millet, and sorghum), roots and tubers (potatoes, cassava, yam (vegetable), yams and taro), and animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, cheese and fish. Regional staples include the plants rye, soybeans, barley, oats, and teff. Just 15 plant crops provide 90 percent of the world's food energy intake (exclusive of meat), with
rice Rice is the seed A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reproduction Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which n ...
,
maize Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn ( North American and Australian English), is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as F ...
, and
wheat Wheat is a grass widely Agriculture, cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The Taxonomy of wheat, many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most widely grown is common wheat (''T. aest ...

wheat
comprising 2/3 of human food consumption. These three are the staples of about 80 percent of the world population, and rice feeds almost half of humanity. Roots and tubers, meanwhile, are important staples for over one billion people in the developing world, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the food eaten by half the population of sub-Saharan Africa. Roots and tubers are high in carbohydrates, calcium, and vitamin C, but low in
protein Proteins are large biomolecules or macromolecules that are comprised of one or more long chains of amino acid residue (biochemistry), residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including Enzyme catalysis, catalysing m ...
. Cassava root, for example, is a major food staple in the developing world, a basic food source for around 500 million people. With economic development and free trade, many countries have shifted away from low-Nutrient density, nutrient-density staple foods to higher-nutrient-density staples, as well as towards greater Meat Consumption by Country, meat consumption. Despite this trend, there is growing recognition of the importance of traditional staple crops in nutrition. Agriculture constantly seeks to identify better plant strains with superior nutrition, disease resistance, and higher yields. Some foods like quinoa—a Pseudocereal, pseudocereal grain that originally came from the Andes—were also staples centuries ago. Oxalis tuberosa, Oca tubers, Ullucus, ulluku tubers and grain amaranth are other foods claimed to be historical Andean staples. Pemmican made from dried meat and fat was a staple of the Plains Indians, Plains Indians of North America. In 2010, the global consumption of "speciality grains", such as quinoa, was very small compared to other staples, such as rice, wheat, and maize. These grains, once popular, are being reevaluated and reintroduced to certain markets.


Production

Most staple food is currently produced using modern, conventional farming practices. However, the production of staple food using organic farming methods is growing.


Processing

Rice is most commonly cooked and eaten as separate entire grains, but most other staple cereals are milled into a flour or meal that can be used to make bread, noodles, pasta, porridge and ''mushes'' like mealie pap. Root vegetables can be mashed and used to make porridge-like dishes such as poi (food), poi and fufu. Pulses (such as chickpeas, from which gram flour is made) and starchy root vegetables (such as Canna indica, canna rhizomes) can also be made into flour.


Nutrition

Plant-based food staples may not provide a full range of
nutrient A nutrient is a substance used by an organism to survive, grow, and reproduce. The requirement for dietary nutrient intake applies to animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biolo ...
s. The nutrient-deficiency disease pellagra is associated with a diet consisting primarily of
maize Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn ( North American and Australian English), is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as F ...
, while the disease beriberi is associated with a diet of refined white rice. Scurvy can result from a lack of vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. One author indicated that the nutritional value of some staple foods are negatively impacted by higher levels of carbon dioxide, as occurs in climate change.


Comparison of 10 staple foods

The following table shows the nutrient content of 10 major staple vegetable foods in raw form, with the caveat that raw grains are not edible and cannot be digested. Raw grains must be cooked, sprouted, or otherwise prepared for human consumption. In sprouted and cooked form, the relative nutritional and anti-nutritional contents of each of these grains is different from that of the raw form of these grains, as shown. Potatoes also must be cooked, but should not be sprouted. Note that the highlighted values show the highest nutrient density among these 10 staples. Other foods, consumed in smaller quantities, may have nutrient densities different from these values.


Images

File:Boiled White rice.jpg, White rice, boiled File:Weißbrot-1.jpg, Bread made from
wheat Wheat is a grass widely Agriculture, cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The Taxonomy of wheat, many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most widely grown is common wheat (''T. aest ...

wheat
flour (contains gluten) File:YellowCorn.jpg, Maize (corn) File:Edamame - boild green soybeans.jpg, Edamame (green soybeans) File:Red Rajma BNC.jpg, Kidney beans File:Pop sorghum and sorghum seeds 2011.jpg, Sorghum seeds and popped sorghum File:Amaranth und WW.jpg, Amaranth (left) and Common wheat, common Wheat berry, wheat berries File:Pearl millet after combine harvesting.jpg, Millet grains File:Colored quinoa Genebank INIA Juliaca.JPG, Colored quinoa File:YosriUbiKayu.jpg, Cassava roots File:Yama imo.JPG, Chinese yams File:Sweet potato salad.jpg, Sweet potato salad File:Ulluco.jpg, Ulluco tubers File:Oca.jpg, Oxalis tuberosa, Oca tubers File:Taro corms 2.jpg, Taro roots File:Patates.jpg, Potatoes File:Plantain and banana.jpg, Cooking banana, Plantain and banana


See also

*Cash crop *Famine food *Center of origin#Vavilov centers, Vavilov centers


References


External links

* {{Authority control Staple foods,