Vegetable. In a general sense, the term "vegetable" refers to any plant. However, the term is commonly used to refer only to a plant or part of a plant that is used for food. In popular usage the term also refers to such edible organisms as mushrooms and algae and does not refer to such edible plant parts as nuts, berries, fruit from trees, and grains (with the exception of corn).
Among the edible plant parts that are considered vegetables are the following:
|Edible Plant Parts|
|Leaf Buds||Brussel sprouts|
|Flower Buds||Globe artichokes|
|Unripe Fruits||Cucumbers, green beans|
|Whole Plant||Green onions, turnips|
Vegetables are produced commercially in market gardens, small farms close to their markets, and on truck farms, larger farms that ship their products to places outside their immediate localities. In the United States, truck farming is particularly important in California and Florida.Asparagus spears are popular vegetables.
Vegetables consist largely of water, often 90 per cent or more. Nevertheless, vegetables are highly important foods. Most vegetables, especially those that are dark green (such as spinach) or deep-yellow (such as carrots), are excellent sources of vitamin A. Many vegetables, including broccoli and potatoes, are good sources of vitamin C. Vegetables generally provide many minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and calcium. Many vegetables, especially leafy vegetables, are excellent sources of indigestible cellulose, called dietary fiber or roughage, which aids the intestines in eliminating body wastes. Vegetables are low in fat and high in carbohydrates. Vegetables in the pea, or legume, family are high in protein.
Vegetables are most nutritious when eaten raw, and most can be eaten this way. Cooking reduces the content of vitamins and minerals. The amount of nutrient loss increases as the cooking time and amount of water used increase. Pressure cooking and steaming destroy fewer nutrients than boiling. If vegetables are to be boiled, they should not be placed in the water until it is boiling briskly. Water in which vegetables have been boiled may be used for soups, sauces, and gravies.