Staple foods span continents and cuisines and include rice, beans, pasta, bread and potatoes. Read on to learn why these foods are so important to so many people across the globe.
What Are Staple Foods?
Staple foods are items that form the basis of cuisines and are are usually eaten at every meal. They are typically easy to grow and produce, can be stored for a long time without going bad and, best of all, are high in calories and carbohydrates and reasonably priced.
Rice, a cheap staple food, can be purchased in large quantities at a very low price., which is why it is the basis for cuisines across Asia and Latin America. Rice has also become a staple food in North America. Rice grains are five to 12 millimeters long and two to three millimeters thick, and the most popular type consumed is the long-grain variety. Best of all, rice can serve as a main course or complementary side dish.
Beans are cheap, plentiful and are high in protein and fiber, boasting three times more protein than rice and double the amount of protein as wheat. And, like rice, they can be a meal in themselves. Beans, which are legumes that grow in pods, are good for large families because they are reasonably priced and can stretch meals.
Bread has long been a staple. Bread loaves and grain millstones date back as much as 5,000 years. Bread was a staple of the Egyptian, Greece and Roman diets. Here in North America the sandwich, hamburger and hot dog would be nothing without the bread to wrap it in. Though bread is a valued staple it cannot stand alone.
Baked, mashed, au gratin---you name it and it can be done to a potato. They offer great variety because they can be cooked in almost any fashion, and they are made even more invaluable because they are very reasonable. Like bread, potatoes are best enjoyed as a supplement to other foods.
Pasta is a staple food in many cultures. Made from wheat flour or semolina and water, there are about 50 different pasta types. High in fiber and low in sugar, pasta is one of the healthier staples, though they are very high in carbohydrates---which is great for athletes and a source of concern for diabetics and those concerned about their weight.