In everyday usage, a VEGETABLE is any part of a plant that is consumed by humans as food as part of a meal. The term vegetable is somewhat arbitrary, and largely defined through culinary and cultural tradition. It normally excludes other food derived from plants such as fruits , nuts , and cereal grains, but includes seeds such as pulses . The original meaning of the word vegetable, still used in biology, was to describe all types of plant, as in the terms "vegetable kingdom" and "vegetable matter".
Originally, vegetables were collected from the wild by hunter-gatherers and entered cultivation in several parts of the world, probably during the period 10,000 BC to 7,000 BC, when a new agricultural way of life developed. At first, plants which grew locally would have been cultivated, but as time went on, trade brought exotic crops from elsewhere to add to domestic types. Nowadays, most vegetables are grown all over the world as climate permits, and crops may be cultivated in protected environments in less suitable locations. China is the largest producer of vegetables and global trade in agricultural products allows consumers to purchase vegetables grown in faraway countries. The scale of production varies from subsistence farmers supplying the needs of their family for food, to agribusinesses with vast acreages of single-product crops. Depending on the type of vegetable concerned, harvesting the crop is followed by grading, storing, processing, and marketing.
Vegetables can be eaten either raw or cooked and play an important role in human nutrition, being mostly low in fat and carbohydrates, but high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber . Many nutritionists encourage people to consume plenty of fruit and vegetables, five or more portions a day often being recommended.
* 1 Etymology * 2 Terminology * 3 History * 4 Some common vegetables
* 5.1 Dietary recommendations
* 6 Production
* 6.1 Cultivation * 6.2 Harvesting * 6.3 Storage * 6.4 Preservation * 6.5 Top producers
* 7 Standards * 8 See also * 9 References * 10 External links
Domestic vegetable garden in
The word vegetable was first recorded in English in the early 15th
century. It comes from
The meaning of "vegetable" as a "plant grown for food" was not established until the 18th century. In 1767, the word was specifically used to mean a "plant cultivated for food, an edible herb or root". The year 1955 saw the first use of the shortened, slang term "veggie".
As an adjective , the word vegetable is used in scientific and technical contexts with a different and much broader meaning, namely of "related to plants" in general, edible or not — as in vegetable matter, vegetable kingdom, vegetable origin, etc.
The exact definition of "vegetable" may vary simply because of the many parts of a plant consumed as food worldwide – roots, tubers, bulbs, corms , stems, leaf stems, leaf sheaths, leaves, buds, flowers, fruits, and seeds. The broadest definition is the word's use adjectivally to mean "matter of plant origin" to distinguish it from "animal", meaning "matter of animal origin". More specifically, a vegetable may be defined as "any plant, part of which is used for food", a secondary meaning then being "the edible part of such a plant". A more precise definition is "any plant part consumed for food that is not a fruit or seed, but including mature fruits that are eaten as part of a main meal". Falling outside these definitions are edible fungi (such as mushrooms ) and edible seaweed which, although not parts of plants , are often treated as vegetables.
In everyday language, the words "fruit " and "vegetable" are mutually exclusive. "Fruit" has a precise botanical meaning, being a part that developed from the ovary of a flowering plant . This is considerably different from the word's culinary meaning. While peaches , plums , and oranges are "fruit" in both senses, many items commonly called "vegetables", such as eggplants , bell peppers , and tomatoes , are botanically fruits. The question of whether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable found its way into the United States Supreme Court in 1893. The court ruled unanimously in Nix v. Hedden that a tomato is correctly identified as, and thus taxed as, a vegetable, for the purposes of the Tariff of 1883 on imported produce. The court did acknowledge, however, that, botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit.
Before the advent of agriculture , humans were hunter-gatherers .
They foraged for edible fruit, nuts, stems, leaves, corms, and tubers,
scavenged for dead animals and hunted living ones for food. Forest
gardening in a tropical jungle clearing is thought to be the first
example of agriculture; useful plant species were identified and
encouraged to grow while undesirable species were removed. Plant
breeding through the selection of strains with desirable traits such
as large fruit and vigorous growth soon followed. While the first
evidence for the domestication of grasses such as wheat and barley has
been found in the
Throughout recorded history, the rich have been able to afford a varied diet including meat, vegetables and fruit, but for poor people, meat was a luxury and the food they ate was very dull, typically comprising mainly some staple product made from rice, rye, barley, wheat, millet or maize. The addition of vegetable matter provided some variety to the diet. The staple diet of the Aztecs in Central America was maize and they cultivated tomatoes , avocados , beans , peppers , pumpkins , squashes , peanuts , and amaranth seeds to supplement their tortillas and porridge . In Peru, the Incas subsisted on maize in the lowlands and potatoes at higher altitudes. They also used seeds from quinoa , supplementing their diet with peppers, tomatoes, and avocados.
In Ancient China , rice was the staple crop in the south and wheat in the north, the latter made into dumplings , noodles , and pancakes . Vegetables used to accompany these included yams , soybeans , broad beans , turnips , spring onions , and garlic . The diet of the ancient Egyptians was based on bread , often contaminated with sand which wore away their teeth. Meat was a luxury but fish was more plentiful. These were accompanied by a range of vegetables including marrows, broad beans, lentils, onions, leeks, garlic, radishes, and lettuces.
The mainstay of the Ancient Greek diet was bread, and this was
accompanied by goat's cheese, olives, figs, fish, and occasionally
meat. The vegetables grown included onions, garlic, cabbages, melons,
and lentils. In
SOME COMMON VEGETABLES
SOME COMMON VEGETABLES
IMAGE DESCRIPTION PARTS USED ORIGIN CULTIVARS World production (×106 tons, 2012)
Brassica oleracea leaves, axillary buds , stems, flowerheads
cabbage, red cabbage ,
turnip Brassica rapa tubers, leaves Asia turnip, rutabaga , Chinese cabbage , napa cabbage , bok choy , collard greens
radish Raphanus sativus roots, leaves, seed pods, seed oil, sprouting Southeastern Asia radish, daikon , seedpod varieties
carrot Daucus carota root tubers Persia carrot 36.9
parsnip Pastinaca sativa Root tubers Eurasia parsnip
Beta vulgaris tubers, leaves
Europe, Near East, and India
beetroot, sea beet ,
lettuce Lactuca sativa leaves, stems, seed oil Egypt lettuce, celtuce 24.9
broad beans Vicia faba pods, seeds North Africa South and southwest Asia broad bean
peas Pisum sativum pods, seeds, sprouting Mediterranean and Middle East pea , snap pea , snow pea , split pea 28.9
potato Solanum tuberosum root tubers South America potato 365.4
aubergine/eggplant Solanum melongena fruits South and East Asia eggplant (aubergine) 48.4
tomato Solanum lycopersicum fruits South America tomato, see also list of tomato cultivars 161.8
cucumber Cucumis sativus fruits Southern Asia cucumber, see also list of cucumber varieties 65.1
pumpkin /squash Cucurbita spp. fruits, flowers Mesoamerica pumpkin , squash, marrow , zucchini (courgette), gourd 24.6
onion Allium cepa bulbs, leaves Asia onion, spring onion , scallion , shallot , see also list of onion cultivars 87.2
garlic Allium sativum bulbs Asia garlic 24.8
leek Allium ampeloprasum leaf sheaths Europe and Middle East leek, elephant garlic 21.7
spinach Spinacia oleracea leaves Central and southwestern Asia spinach 21.7
yam Dioscorea spp. tubers Tropical Africa yam 59.5
sweet potato Ipomoea batatas tubers, leaves, shoots Central and South America sweet potato, see also list of sweet potato cultivars 108.0
cassava Manihot esculenta tubers South America cassava 269.1
* ^ Includes both carrots and turnips. * ^ A B C D Productions of dry and green vegetables added up.
NUTRITION AND HEALTH
Vegetables play an important role in human nutrition. Most are low in fat and calories but are bulky and filling. They supply dietary fiber and are important sources of essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Particularly important are the antioxidant vitamins A , C , and E . When vegetables are included in the diet, there is found to be a reduction in the incidence of cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic ailments. Research has shown that, compared with individuals who eat less than three servings of fruits and vegetables each day, those that eat more than five servings have an approximately twenty percent lower risk of developing coronary heart disease or stroke. The nutritional content of vegetables varies considerably; some contain useful amounts of protein though generally they contain little fat , and varying proportions of vitamins such as vitamin A , vitamin K , and vitamin B6 ; provitamins ; dietary minerals ; and carbohydrates .
However, vegetables often also contain toxins and antinutrients which interfere with the absorption of nutrients. These include α-solanine , α-chaconine , enzyme inhibitors (of cholinesterase , protease , amylase , etc.), cyanide and cyanide precursors , oxalic acid , and others. These toxins are natural defenses, used to ward off the insects, predators and fungi that might attack the plant. Some beans contain phytohaemagglutinin , and cassava roots contain cyanogenic glycoside as do bamboo shoots . These toxins can be deactivated by adequate cooking. Green potatoes contain glycoalkaloids and should be avoided.
The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables daily. The total amount consumed will vary according to age and gender, and is determined based upon the standard portion sizes typically consumed, as well as general nutritional content. Potatoes are not included in the count as they are mainly providers of starch. For most vegetables and vegetable juices, one serving is half of a cup and can be eaten raw or cooked. For leafy greens, such as lettuce and spinach , a single serving is typically a full cup. A variety of products should be chosen as no single fruit or vegetable provides all the nutrients needed for health.
International dietary guidelines are similar to the ones established
by the USDA.
Vegetables have been part of the human diet from time immemorial . Some are staple foods but most are accessory foodstuffs, adding variety to meals with their unique flavors and at the same time, adding nutrients necessary for health. Some vegetables are perennials but most are annuals and biennials , usually harvested within a year of sowing or planting. Whatever system is used for growing crops, cultivation follows a similar pattern; preparation of the soil by loosening it, removing or burying weeds, and adding organic manures or fertilisers; sowing seeds or planting young plants; tending the crop while it grows to reduce weed competition, control pests, and provide sufficient water; harvesting the crop when it is ready; sorting, storing, and marketing the crop or eating it fresh from the ground.
Different soil types suit different crops, but in general in temperate climates, sandy soils dry out fast but warm up quickly in the spring and are suitable for early crops, while heavy clays retain moisture better and are more suitable for late season crops. The growing season can be lengthened by the use of fleece , cloches , plastic mulch , polytunnels , and greenhouses . In hotter regions, the production of vegetables is constrained by the climate, especially the pattern of rainfall, while in temperate zones, it is constrained by the temperature and day length. Weeding cabbages in Colorado, US
On a domestic scale, the spade, fork, and hoe are the tools of choice
while on commercial farms a range of mechanical equipment is
available. Besides tractors, these include ploughs , harrows , drills
, transplanters , cultivators , irrigation equipment, and harvesters .
New techniques are changing the cultivation procedures involved in
growing vegetables with computer monitoring systems,
Harvesting beetroot in the United Kingdom
When a vegetable is harvested, it is cut off from its source of water and nourishment. It continues to transpire and loses moisture as it does so, a process most noticeable in the wilting of green leafy crops. Harvesting root vegetables when they are fully mature improves their storage life, but alternatively, these root crops can be left in the ground and harvested over an extended period. The harvesting process should seek to minimise damage and bruising to the crop. Onions and garlic can be dried for a few days in the field and root crops such as potatoes benefit from a short maturation period in warm, moist surroundings, during which time wounds heal and the skin thickens up and hardens. Before marketing or storage, grading needs to be done to remove damaged goods and select produce according to its quality, size, ripeness, and color.
All vegetables benefit from proper post harvest care. A large proportion of vegetables and perishable foods are lost after harvest during the storage period. These losses may be as high as thirty to fifty percent in developing countries where adequate cold storage facilities are not available. The main causes of loss include spoilage caused by moisture, moulds, micro-organisms, and vermin. Temporary storage of potatoes in the Netherlands
Storage can be short-term or long-term. Most vegetables are perishable and short-term storage for a few days provides flexibility in marketing. During storage, leafy vegetables lose moisture , and the vitamin C in them degrades rapidly. A few products such as potatoes and onions have better keeping qualities and can be sold when higher prices may be available, and by extending the marketing season, a greater total volume of crop can be sold. If refrigerated storage is not available, the priority for most crops is to store high-quality produce, to maintain a high humidity level, and to keep the produce in the shade.
Proper post-harvest storage aimed at extending and ensuring shelf life is best effected by efficient cold chain application. Cold storage is particularly useful for vegetables such as cauliflower, eggplant, lettuce, radish, spinach, potatoes, and tomatoes, the optimum temperature depending on the type of produce. There are temperature-controlling technologies that do not require the use of electricity such as evaporative cooling. Storage of fruit and vegetables in controlled atmospheres with high levels of carbon dioxide or high oxygen levels can inhibit microbial growth and extend storage life.
The irradiation of vegetables and other agricultural produce by ionizing radiation can be used to preserve it from both microbial infection and insect damage, as well as from physical deterioration. It can extend the storage life of food without noticeably changing its properties.
The objective of preserving vegetables is to extend their availability for consumption or marketing purposes. The aim is to harvest the food at its maximum state of palatability and nutritional value, and preserve these qualities for an extended period. The main causes of deterioration in vegetables after they are gathered are the actions of naturally-occurring enzymes and the spoilage caused by micro-organisms . Canning and freezing are the most commonly used techniques, and vegetables preserved by these methods are generally similar in nutritional value to comparable fresh products with regards to carotenoids , vitamin E , minerals . and dietary fiber . Bean field and canning factory, New Jersey, US
Canning is a process during which the enzymes in vegetables are deactivated and the micro-organisms present killed by heat. The sealed can excludes air from the foodstuff to prevent subsequent deterioration. The lowest necessary heat and the minimum processing time are used in order to prevent the mechanical breakdown of the product and to preserve the flavor as far as is possible. The can is then able to be stored at ambient temperatures for a long period.
Freezing vegetables and maintaining their temperature at below −10 °C (14 °F) will prevent their spoilage for a short period, whereas a temperature of −18 °C (0 °F) is required for longer-term storage. The enzyme action will merely be inhibited, and blanching of suitably sized prepared vegetables before freezing mitigates this and prevents off-flavors developing. Not all micro-organisms will be killed at these temperatures and after thawing the vegetables should be used promptly because otherwise, any microbes present may proliferate. Sun-drying tomatoes in Greece
Traditionally, sun drying has been used for some products such as tomatoes, mushrooms, and beans, spreading the produce on racks and turning the crop at intervals. This method suffers from several disadvantages including lack of control over drying rates, spoilage when drying is slow, contamination by dirt, wetting by rain, and attack by rodents, birds, and insects. These disadvantages can be alleviated by using solar powered driers. The dried produce must be prevented from reabsorbing moisture during storage.
High levels of both sugar and salt can preserve food by preventing
micro-organisms from growing. Green beans can be salted by layering
the pods with salt, but this method of preservation is unsuited to
most vegetables. Marrows, beetroot, carrot, and some other vegetables
can be boiled with sugar to create jams.
In 2010, China was the largest vegetable producing nation, with over half the world's production. India, the United States, Turkey, Iran, and Egypt were the next largest producers. China had the highest area of land devoted to vegetable production, while the highest average yields were obtained in Spain and the Republic of Korea.
COUNTRY Area cultivated thousand hectares (2,500 acres) Yield thousand kg/ha (890 lb/acre) Production thousand tonnes (1,100 short tons )
China 23,458 230 539,993
India 7,256 138 100,045
United States 1,120 318 35,609
Turkey 1,090 238 25,901
Iran 767 261 19,995
Egypt 755 251 19,487
Italy 537 265 14,201
Russia 759 175 13,283
Spain 348 364 12,679
Mexico 681 184 12,515
Nigeria 1844 64 11,830
Brazil 500 225 11,233
Japan 407 264 10,746
Indonesia 1082 90 9,780
South Korea 268 364 9,757
Vietnam 818 110 8,976
Ukraine 551 162 8,911
Uzbekistan 220 342 7,529
Philippines 718 88 6,299
France 245 227 5,572
TOTAL WORLD 55,598 188 1,044,380
International Organization for Standardization
* Food portal
* ^ A B Harper, Douglas. "vegetable". Online Etymology Dictionary .
* ^ A B Swedenborg, Emanuel (2003). Swedenborg Concordance 1888.
Kessinger Publishing. p. 502. ISBN 0-7661-3728-7 .
* ^ Ayto, John (1993). Dictionary of Word Origins. New York: Arcade
Publishing. ISBN 1-55970-214-1 .
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