A staple food
, food staple
, or simply a staple
, is a food
that is eaten routinely and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet
for a given person, supplying a large fraction of energy needs
and generally forming a significant proportion of the intake of other nutrients
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 macronutrients
needed for survival and health: carbohydrates
, and vitamins
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.
Unprocessed seeds of spelt
, a historically important staple food
Early agricultural civilizations valued the foods that they established as staples because, in addition to providing necessary nutrition
, 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 seasons
or cold temperate
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 cereals
(such as rice
, and sorghum
), starchy tubers
or root vegetables
(such as potatoes
, sweet potatoes
, or taro
, 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
. Staple foods may also include (depending on the region): olive oil
, coconut oil
, and sugar
(e.g. from plantains).
Food energy consumption per person, per day, worldwide
Average daily food energy (kcal) per person, 1979–1981
Average daily food energy (kcal) per person, 2001–2003
Except for war-torn countries, the people of the world are getting more daily calories, despite a growing population globally.
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
, and sorghum
), roots and tubers (potatoes
), and animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, cheese and fish. Regional staples include the plants rye
, and teff
Just 15 plant crops
provide 90 percent of the world's food energy intake (exclusive of meat), with rice
, and 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
, and vitamin C
, but low in protein
. 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 staple foods to higher-nutrient-density staples, as well as towards greater 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.
Ten staple foods of global importance (ranked by annual production)
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
like mealie pap
. Root vegetables can be mashed and used to make porridge
-like dishes such as poi
(such as chickpeas
, from which gram flour
is made) and starchy root vegetables (such as canna
rhizomes) can also be made into flour.
Plant-based food staples may not provide a full range of nutrients
. The nutrient-deficiency disease pellagra
is associated with a diet consisting primarily of maize
, while the disease beriberi
is associated with a diet of refined white rice
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.
Nutrient content of 10 major staple foods per 100 g,
in order of rank
raw yellow dent cornB
raw unenriched long-grain white riceC
raw hard red winter wheatD
raw potato with flesh and skinE
raw green soybeansG
raw sweet potatoH
- ^ a b c Su, Wen-Hao; He, Hong-Ju; Sun, Da-Wen (2017-03-24). "Non-Destructive and rapid evaluation of staple foods quality by using spectroscopic techniques: A review". Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 57 (5): 1039–1051. doi:10.1080/10408398.2015.1082966. ISSN 1040-8398. PMID 26480047. S2CID 40398017.
- ^ a b United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization: Agriculture and Consumer Protection. "Dimensions of Need - Staples: What do people eat?". Retrieved 15 October 2010.
- ^ "Around the world in dishes made with pulses". Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- ^ The Sago Palm: The Food and Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century. Kyoto University Press. 2015. p. 331. ISBN 978-1-920901-13-4.
- ^ "African Food Staples". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- ^ "Olive Oil & Health - All Olive Oil". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- ^ "How Sugar Went From a Condiment to a Diet Staple". Time.
- ^ "Dimensions of Need: An atlas of food and agriculture". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 1995.
- ^ E.A. Oelke; et al. "Quinoa". University of Minnesota.
- ^ Arbizu and Tapia (1994). "Plant Production and Protection Series No. 26. FAO, Rome, Italy". FAO / Purdue University.
- ^ John E. Foster. "Pemmican". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- ^ Allianz. "Food security: Ten Crops that Feed the World". Allianz.
- ^ "Food and Agricultural commodities production / Commodities by regions". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2012.
- ^ The numbers in this column are country average; regional farm productivity within the country varies, with some farms even higher.
- ^ "FAOSTAT: Production-Crops, 2010 data". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2011.
- ^ "Food and Agricultural commodities production / Countries by commodity (2013 data)". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
- ^ United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization: Agriculture and Consumer Protection. "Rice and Human Nutrition" (PDF). Retrieved 15 October 2010.
- ^ Wernick, Adam (29 October 2017). "Global warming threatens nutrition levels in staple crops". Public Radio International (PRI). Retrieved 30 October 2017.
- ^ "Nutrient data laboratory". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
Last edited on 28 April 2021, at 04:34
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.