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What Are the Different Types of Food Raw Materials?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Food raw materials, as a group, encompass a wide range of products needed by many businesses, including food processing plants and restaurants. Meat, seafood and poultry are gathered from slaughtered animals. From trees, grasses and shrubs, people can gather food raw materials such as grains, seeds and nuts that often have high levels of fiber and proteins. Fruits, fungi and vegetables are gathered from fields, caves and trees; have high vitamin contents; and tend to be either sweet or somewhat bitter. Dairy milk comes from many mammals, such as cows and goats, while eggs come from birds such as chickens and ducks.

Meat, seafood and poultry involve slaughtering animals so their muscle tissue can be harvested and used for cooking and eating. Poultry comes from birds, including chickens and turkeys; seafood comes from creatures that live in water, including lobster and salmon; meat is a general term used to categorize many different animals, including cows as beef, pigs as pork and lamb as mutton. These materials tend to have the highest protein levels, and are included in many main-course dishes.

Grains, seeds and nuts are calorically dense food raw materials that may be consumed directly, but they often go on to further processing. Seeds come from the inside of fruits and flowers, often have high fiber and usually are a good source of protein. Most "nuts" come from trees — though cashews are actually seeds from cashew apples and peanuts are legumes — and have high protein and fat contents. Certain grasses create grains, which often are made into cereal, and they usually have a good amount of fiber and some protein but are dense with carbohydrate calories.

Fruits, fungi and vegetables are harvested from fields, caves and trees, and they are often consumed whole or are added into dishes. All three have a high amount of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables are often grown in fields, and they are considered to be any type of plant that is not a fruit, leading to discrepancies between countries and regions. Flowering plants create fruit, which is often sweet; legumes come from flowers, but they are often not considered a fruit because of their taste. Fungi are typically mushrooms for the purpose of food raw materials, and they grow in moist places such as in caves and under trees.

Dairy milk and eggs come from animals, but the animals are not slaughtered to get the products. Both can only be harvested from female animals. Milk is typically gathered from female cows and goats, though horses and buffalo may be used, as well, and this is the milk that otherwise would go to their young. Eggs are often unfertilized — though, in some very rare instances, consumers and buyers may get a fertilized egg — and are laid by birds such as chickens and ducks. These are both high in protein, and these food raw materials are important to food processing plants to make cheese, yogurt, baked goods and other items.

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Discussion Comments

By irontoenail — On Nov 24, 2014

@clintflint - Our raw materials are definitely going to change in some ways, although I don't know if that's how they will change. I do know that we're facing a lot of shortages soon, including cacao which is one of the raw materials for chocolate. Since countries like China are becoming increasingly wealthy and growing their middle class, they can afford to buy the same kinds of foods as Westerns traditionally enjoyed and it's going to put a huge strain on a lot of markets.

By clintflint — On Nov 23, 2014

@MrsPramm - I'm actually kind of hoping that we will eventually start incorporating more "gross" raw materials into our processed foods, as they tend to be much better for you and much more environmentally sustainable. Insects are already being used as a protein rich food in a lot of countries and you can get staples like cricket flour online even now.

Another important addition to the modern diet is going to be algae. It grows fast, doesn't need an excess amount of nutrients or space and people are already eating it in some products, sometimes with it promoted as a health food because it's fairly nutrient-dense.

We might not like the idea at the moment, but eventually it's going to be a necessity and I suspect at that point people will find these raw ingredients just as commonplace as wheat flour and chicken are now.

By MrsPramm — On Nov 22, 2014

I'm always kind of grossed out when I look too closely at the raw materials used in processed foods. I mean, they use a lot of chemicals, which is bad enough, but they also use things like gelatin (from boiled animal skins and bones) and that red food coloring that comes from crushed beetles.

One of my friends is vegan and she loves telling me about all the worst ingredients, although she hasn't managed to get me to change my eating habits yet.

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