In trying to understand the making of the modern food system, it is necessary to be aware of both continuity and change in the social processes which shape the ways in which food is being produced, distributed and consumed. In the accounts which are focused on the development of the modern food system in the West, there is an emphasis on changes which can be interpreted as progress: the triumph over the difficulties of improving the scale and quality of production; the technological achievements in both preservation and the food distribution network; the extension of consumer choice free from seasonal constraints. Indeed, the symbolic potential of food and eating is virtually limitless, and food items and food consumption events can be imbued with meanings of great significance and surpassing subtlety, according to the occasion and the context. Of course, the role of food and food preparation conventions in symbolizing ethnic differences is also significant, given the fact that these conventions are such central features of cultural distinctiveness, and can retain their potency among minority groups for several generations after their physical separation from the parent culture. These categories are: cultural super foods, the main staples of the society in question; prestige foods, whose consumption is limited to special occasions or to high-status groups; body-image foods, which are seen as directly promoting health and bodily well-being; and, finally, physiologic group foods, which are seen as suitable for specific categories of individuals defined in terms of gender, age and bodily condition related to health, pregnancy, etc.