To survive, we need to eat food, the basic building block of our existence. Food is any material consumed to give nutrition to an organism for sustenance. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and normally has all necessary nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or minerals. Food can be eaten to sustain life or it can be used as a means of food preparation, in which case it is called food processing.
Some people think that they are on a natural diet; i.e. that they have no need for food processing or eating in moderation. This is not the case; instead, most people’s diet (at least in the Western world) is severely deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, as well as in calories and other substances that lead to weight gain. The only exception may be those who consume small amounts of highly processed lean meats. A healthy, varied diet is the basis of maintaining good health. However, it is not possible to obtain all the needed elements from natural sources, which explains the need for food processing and special diets.
Over processed and commercialized food has led to a decline in the quality and richness of natural foods. Natural food processing and preservation methods such as pasteurization and irradiation are used for increasing shelf-life and texture, color and flavor. In addition, artificial flavorings and preservatives are added to many natural foods to extend their shelf-life and/or increase their taste. These artificial enhancements do not contribute to the nutritional value of the food, but are used instead to enhance the product’s attractiveness and thus increase its sales.