In culinary terms, a vegetable is an edible plant or its part, intended for cooking or eating raw. The term “vegetable” is a non-biological one largely defined through culinary and cultural tradition. Apart from vegetables, other main types of plant food are fruits, grains and nuts. The division between vegetables and other food types is somewhat arbitrary and based on culture. For example, some people consider mushrooms to be vegetables, even though they are not biologically plants, while others consider them a separate food category; some cultures group potatoes with cereal products such as noodles or rice, while most English speakers would consider them vegetables. Vegetables are most often consumed as salads or cooked in savory or salty dishes, while culinary fruits are usually sweet and used for desserts, but it is not the universal rule. Some vegetables can be consumed raw, while some, such as cassava, must be cooked to destroy natural toxins or microbes in order to be edible. A number of processed foods available on the market contain vegetable ingredients, and can be referred to as “vegetable derived” products. These products may or may not maintain the nutritional integrity of the vegetable used to produce them.
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