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In the broadest sense, all plant life and plant products (vegetable matter); in common, narrow usage, the fresh edible portion of herbaceous plants (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, or fruit), either eaten fresh or prepared in some way. Almost all current vegetables were cultivated in ancient Old or New World civilizations, though some have been greatly modified. Vegetables are good sources of minerals (especially calcium and iron), vitamins (especially A and C), and dietary fiber. All the amino acids needed to synthesize protein are available in vegetables. Fresh vegetables quickly age and spoil, but their storage life can be extended by such preservation methods as dehydration, canning, freezing, fermenting, and pickling.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on vegetable, visit Britannica.com.