The American way of eating is composed equally of content, the foods that we eat, and concept, the reasons we have come to eat them. Determining the American diet requires an understanding of our individual preferences and how those individual decisions fit into the whole. Each of us has idiosyncratic ways of doing things; each of us is a member of a larger group that has its own ways of doing things. A new American diet is described in context of the forces that altered it from the traditional diet. Our unique food preferences are the end product of a lifetime of personal experiences and an eternity of genetic and cultural evolution. The cuisine of each community has a history that has been shaped by the people who have lived there. Innovations spread rapidly in communities and regions undergoing constant growth, working their way not only down the urban hierarchy but outward across the nation.