Foods eaten by human beings and other animals are largely organic matter, meaning that these must contain elements known as carbon. Food for human beings and animals contain minerals, such as iron to make blood, as well as calcium to form bones, including certain chemicals, such as iodine; also a group of organic substances called vitamins. People eat almost anything considered nutritious. Some things can be eaten safely and some cannot, for which reasons exhaustive experiments were made to ascertain which foods are safe to eat.
There is no way to define taste. In some cultures, termites are considered to be a delicacy. We generally find these to be disgusting. Some people eat seaweed and other things that we do not include in the category of food. Certain grasses, for instance, are considered to be nourishing but, being so tough, the human body cannot digest these.
Some religions forbid people to eat certain foods. In ancient times, it was the responsibility of the priests to decide which food was safe to eat. The fear and suspicion then was the possibility that some foods may be poisonous, with the result that sometimes priests made it a matter of religion not to eat such foods that may sicken people. For instance, Jews and Muslims do not eat pork or shellfish, since, without refrigeration, these spoil very easily. There are other reasons for not eating certain foods. A person who belongs to almost any religion may refrain from eating certain kinds of foods as an act of devotion to God. Most religions have fast days on which certain foods may not be eaten, or no food at all may be eaten.
Today there are exotic varieties of foods that people crave to eat. Chinese and Indian cuisine is spicy and palatable, so much so that there are many Chinese and Indian restaurants everywhere. Vietnamese and Thai cuisine is also appreciated and is included among foods that are tasty. Of course, Italian cuisine is popular in the United States and elsewhere. Most people have the tendency to taste any kind of exotic food, as long as they are safe.
As we all know, the Food and Drug Administration must supervise the kinds of foods people eat and sees that the laws about pure foods and drugs are obeyed. The organization began fifty years ago when companies used to package foods and drugs about which they were not telling the truth. Labels specify the ingredients and certain other requirements governing manufacturers, in order to assure consumers that whatever they buy is pure and healthful.