Vegetables, like fruits, are low in calories and fats but contain good amounts of vitamins and minerals. All the Green-Yellow-Orange vegetables are rich sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, beta-carotene, vitamin B-complex, vitamin-C, vitamin-A, and vitamin K.
Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans as food as part of a meal. The original meaning is still commonly used and is applied to plants collectively to refer to all edible plant matter, including the flowers, fruits, stems, leaves, roots, and seeds. The alternate definition of the term vegetable is applied somewhat arbitrarily, often by culinary and cultural tradition. It may exclude foods derived from some plants that are fruits, nuts, and cereal grains, but include fruits from others such as tomatoes and courgettes and seeds such as pulses.
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.
The word vegetable was first recorded in English in the early 15th century. It comes from Old French, and was originally applied to all plants; the word is still used in this sense in biological contexts. It derives from Medieval Latin vegetabilis “growing, flourishing” (i.e. of a plant), a semantic change from a Late Latin meaning “to be enlivening, quickening”.
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
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 Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, it is likely that various peoples around the world started growing crops in the period 10,000 BC to 7,000 BC. Subsistence agriculture continues to this day, with many rural farmers in Africa, Asia, South America, and elsewhere using their plots of land to produce enough food for their families, while any surplus produce is used for exchange for other goods.
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 Ancient Rome, a thick porridge was made of emmer wheat or beans, accompanied by green vegetables but little meat, and fish was not esteemed. The Romans grew broad beans, peas, onions and turnips and ate the leaves of beets rather than their roots