Different Food and Culture of US


The United States of America is a rich and varied blend of ethnicities, religions and races, and this diversity is reflected in the country’s cuisines. The eating habits in the country speak more about the country’s demographic, social, cultural and economic history. The country have for many years received new culinary from waves of immigrants. According to Massachusetts Department of Education (2006), while the country is celebrating its amazing culinary adversity, it is celebrating its diversity per se. Within each individual culture, people prefer certain foods, food combinations for snacks and meals, and food preparation method. Therefore, food is used to identify a certain culture because “people are what they eat”.

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Every individual consumes food, but what they eat is a powerful symbol of who they are. If a person’s sets themselves apart from others on what they eat or not eat, it is viewed as a social barrier or an incest taboo. This is as illustrated in a New Guinea proverb by Margaret Mead “Your own mother, your own sister, your own pigs, your own yams which you have piled up, you may not eat” (Dailey, 2015). This concludes that, an individual identifies themselves with others through eating the same thing in an equivalent way. In achieving this identification, a person may eat even what they loath while avoiding perfectly delicious foods that are not on forbidden list in their culture.

According to Fox (n.d.), there exists different kind of food identification as there are same manners, music, speech, fashion and the like. The apparent ones are class, religious and ethnic identifications. For example, ethnic food preferences become an identity when an individual travels to another country where they may tend to cling to their home habits. If different ethnic groups are forcibly thrown together, there is a growing mishmash and an intensifying of food identity.

Dailey (2015) explains that the association between foods eaten by a person and how others view them, and how they view themselves is remarkable. A survey was conducted Dailey (2015) on how people perceive themselves as consumers of food and the way they view others according to their dietary habits. Five different diets were listed by the researchers; fast foods, gourmet foods, vegetarian, synthetic and healthy foods like yoghurt where the participant were to associate a certain food with personality. Different personalities were identified according to the class of food. Psychological and social factors influence people’s food choice and habits. For example, children may choose to eat what is eaten by their admired adults, or those eaten by favorite’s fictional peers and characters.

Food as a way of expressing of identity is obvious in the experience of going out to eat. For example, restaurants serve more than the meal because they strive to satisfy both the emotional and nutritional needs of their clients. When a person is deciding where to dine, they consider a variety of factors like value, cost of meal, menu, service, location and atmosphere. Ethnic restaurants allure the clients too. The natives of the Homeland are appealed by them as they offer authenticity and familiarity in the foods they serve. For persons not sharing the ethnicity, they go to dine in the restaurants with the urge to explore the novelty of unfamiliar and different culinary adventure (Dailey, 2015).

Counter Arguments

However, culture is not the only thing that influences what a person eats. Peer pressure and social conscience impacts the food choices too. People from totally different ethnics, races or religion may enjoy a similar meal, not because of their culture but because of peer pressure and social conscious. According to Savarln (2004), group disapproval or approval of a certain food impacts food choices. For example, if that food was favored by the group, the individual is likely to accept the food as part of her or his diet. On the other hand, if a certain food is disapproved by a group the person making selection automatically rejects the food.

Additionally, cultural identity according to Savarln (2004) is not restricted to specific foods that an individual associates with a given racial or ethnic group. A good example in America is the social standards and norms followed while dining in a social setting. Food may cause clashes and difficulties within a single society or between cultures due to migration in to new cultures while trying to retain their old or traditional culture. Also, in American cuisine “melting pot” is a myth which is less terrible than the American’s culture melting pot.

Dailey (2015) explains that in America, food and identity have often been overlooked due to the several options available where they literally absorb multiple cultures due to the “melting pot” society. The Americans have Americanized many of the food they thought were traditional. Every religion and culture uses food in their celebration which helps in defining the particular group. Also the American cuisine is fashioned by the country’s natural wealth.


In conclusion, food shapes every society, and the culture is causing the Americans to obsess over it daily. Food has been found to identify what and who we are. Therefore, what an individual eats may identify their religion, ethnic or racial group. However, due to the immigrations, people are exploring foods that were originally of specific group. Other factors like peer pressure and social conscience are contributing to what the communities are eating. As the global community continues to grow, it is important to understand the origin behind a culture’s eating habit due to the multicultural society in America.


Dailey, U. (2015). What You Eat Tells a Story About Who You Are, Spright. Retrieved from http://archive.spright.com/news/how-food-connects-identity-and-culture/

Fox,. The Myth of Nutrition. Food And Eating: An Anthropological Perspective.

Massachusetts Department of Education,. (2006). Its More Than a Meal. Nutrition Resource Manual For Adult Day Health Programs.

Savarln,. (2004). AMERICANS AT THE TABLE: REFLECTIONS ON FOOD AND CULTUREE. USA Society And Values. Retrieved from https://www.ait.org.tw/infousa/zhtw/DOCS/ijse0704.pdf

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