As food, plants provide us with energy, chemical building blocks, minerals, and vitamins. Worldwide, humans get 80% of their calories from food of plant origin. In addition, plants arc nutritious. We can meet our needs for all eight essential amino acids by eating a diversity of plants. Plants arc higher in dietary fiber and lower in saturated fats than animal products. Many of our neccssarv vitamins arc readilv available in fruits and vegetables. Finally, consumption of plants makes good ecological sense since less energy is lost through the food web.
This laboratory topic is divided into two exercises. Exercise A explores the flow of energy from the sun through your personal food web. You will have an opportunity to determine your "piece of the sun." Exercise B allows you to compare your food consumption against the Recommended Daily Allowances prescribed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). You will be able to sec which foods are more nutritious in various ways and to assess how balanced your diet actually is. You will then determine if a carefully planned vegetarian diet can meet a person's nutritional needs.
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