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10 top staple foods in the world

Staple foods are those that are eaten regularly and in such quantities as to constitute the bulk of the diet and supply a major proportion of energy and nutrient needs. Here are the most consumed foods according to World Atlas and Business Insider.

1. Maize/Corn

Corn is the most produced grain in the world. It’s a staple food for the majority of sub-Saharan Africa, and is a great source of carbohydrates, protein, iron, vitamin B, and minerals.

Plus it is being used more and more for ethanol. With international trade, corn has been spread throughout the world and now makes up a major source of food in Africa, Europe and the US. Today, global calorie intake is over 19.5 per cent.

2. Wheat

Wheat covers more of the earth than any other crop. It’s a resilient crop, growing in the dry and cold climates where rice and corn cannot. Wheat is the leading source of vegetable protein for humans worldwide.

The US, China, Russia, India, and France are the largest producers of wheat in the world. Wheat is typically dried and pulverized to make flour which is used to make bread, crackers, pasta, breakfast cereals, and pastries. It contributes approximately 15 per cent of the world’s calorie intake.

3. Rice

Rice is the predominant source of nourishment each day for more than 1.6 billion people around the world, from Asia to Latin America to Africa.

First domesticated in India and Southeast Asia, people have been growing it for thousands of years. During Portuguese trade expeditions, it was brought to South America. Rice is the source of more than 1/5th of all calories consumed by humans.

4. Potatoes

Sweet potatoes. Photo/Courtesy
Sweet potatoes. Photo/Courtesy

Potatoes are the number one non-grain food products. Originally grown in the Andes, the Spanish introduced Europe to the potato in the 16th century and the starchy crop hasn’t looked back since. China is now the largest potato-producer worldwide.

5. Cassava

Cassava’s importance in Africa and South America cannot be overstated. As a drought-resistant crop that does well in poor soils, cassava is a starch-heavy lifesaver for low-income areas.

Cassava eaters know that the roots and leaves must be cooked in order to lose that toxic level of cacogenic glycosides. Alone it provides 2.6 per cent of global calorie intake

6. Soybeans

Soybeans are an excellent source of nutrition — with significant amino acids, protein and oil — and for soil as a natural fertiliser. It produces twice as much protein per acre as any other major vegetable crop. Supply is far outweighed by demand for this energizer bean.

7. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are another crop native to South America now majorly produced by China. They are only distantly related to regular potatoes, and in the US they are often confused with yams. Sweet potatoes are a great source of protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium.

8. Sorghum

Sorghum is drought and heat tolerant and thus an important crop in arid regions where major cereals do not produce sufficient yields. Arid regions love sorghum, a heat and drought-resistant crop.

Though overall consumption of sorghum has gone down in many African countries, it’s still considered the fifth most important cereal crop globally. Sorghum bicolor is the name of the edible plant — it has other, wilder relatives that are grown as foliage.

9. Yams

Most yams are produced in West and Central Africa, with Nigeria by far the biggest producer in the world. Yams are the first harvested crop of the year, which marks the beginning of several Yams Festivals throughout Africa. They can get up to almost five feet in length.

10. Plantains

Despite its similar look to the banana, plantains differ from bananas in structure, feel, taste and use. Plantains are starchier and lower in sugar than bananas, and they are cooked before eating.

Overall worldwide production of plantains has been dropping since 1970s, thanks to soil degradation, pests, drought and poor crop husbandry. They are a good source of potassium and dietary fibre.

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