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1.1: Thinking About Food

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  • What comes to mind when you think of food? What does it mean to you? 

    Maybe it is this morning’s breakfast, essential fuel grabbed as you ran out the door to make it to work or class on time.

    Or perhaps it’s the smell of food cooking in your childhood kitchen, building anticipation for a meal to be shared with family.

    Maybe it is the feeling of soil crumbling between your fingers as you prepare a garden bed for the first seeds of spring, each one a promise of fresh food for the months to come.

    Or perhaps it is the thought of navigating your grocery cart down fluorescent-lit aisles at the grocery store, wondering what to choose and how to stay within your budget.

    Maybe you think of food as a collection of nutrients, tiny molecules that will nourish and energize you, defend your health, and fuel your brain.

    Or perhaps you think of the food traditions of your family’s culture, recipes shared for generation upon generation, over decades of change.

    Maybe you think primarily of feeding yourself. Or perhaps you’re already planning what to cook for your large family tonight.

    Maybe food is a collection of sweet memories for you. Or perhaps your relationship with food is more complicated, one of struggle and control.

    Fresh oranges on a table
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Photo by Jonathan Pielmayer / Unsplash License

    Maybe the meaning of food is bigger than you and your family. Perhaps you think of how to best feed patients in a hospital, to nourish children in a school, or to get food to elderly shut-ins looking for a warm meal and a friendly face. Or maybe you think of how food production affects the environment, workers, and communities. Perhaps you wonder how we’ll feed the world as the population grows and the climate warms.

    Food is all of these things and more. It is a basic human need that permeates every day of our lives. The choices we make about food can affect something as small as the cells in our body and as large as the environment around us. We can’t cover every facet of food in this book, but what we can do is give you a foundation on which to understand the science of food and nutrition and how to apply it in your everyday life.



    Nutrition: Science and Everyday Application by Alice Callahan, PhD, Heather Leonard, MEd, RDN, and Tamberly Powell, MS, RDN is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.  Available at:




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