“Robyn Metcalfe—one of the world’s leading experts on food supply chains—shines a bright light on the humanity that is often invisible in our food system. As delicious as it is detailed, Humans in Our Food is a must-read for anyone who cares about the past, present, or future of food.”

Max Elder, Co-founder and CEO of Nowadays

Humans in Our Food by Robyn Metcalfe

Through her insightful personal photographs and engaging writing, Robyn Metcalfe’s latest work of nonfiction goes behind the scenes to provide profiles of the Humans in Our Food (9/15/2020; 9781649709141; Hardcover; $29.95). From airport coffee robots to camel sellers in Cairo, Metcalfe’s newest book paints an in-depth picture of what it means to be human in connection with the food industry, explores the “maker urge” in all of us, and delves into the unspoken contract we have to honor the relationship between our natural and unnatural worlds.

Humans in Our Food transports readers to the poorest county in the United States, across the nation’s landscape to the Port of Los Angeles and even overseas to the Gobi Desert, to name a few of the venues she explores. The unprecedented times of the pandemic fostered an historic loss of jobs, setting the stage for a future script of science fiction as robots and automated machines take control of our food system. The one element these machines cannot replace, however, is our need for human connection, ingenuity, in-the-moment pivots, and adaptation.

There is no better time than now to meet the humans who feed us every day, everywhere, even through hurricanes and pandemics. While we have become familiar with farmers, food bloggers, and chefs, we haven’t seen the people inside our food system – way inside, like in a food processing company, shucking lobsters, or tending industrial flour mills.

Metcalfe seeks out those humans in a moment when technology is promising to replace them. What we’re discovering is that the humans in our food system are here to stay, and they’re even more important to the preservation of our humanity than ever before. Wearing masks or not, these human faces are reassuring reminders that food and humans are connected in more ways than one.

“Robyn’s global exploration into the inventiveness and resiliency of the humans who feed us, now and post-pandemic, is a refreshing celebration of the traditions, the individuals, and the communities who shape us and our relationship to food. With vivid pictures and intimate stories from around the world, my eyes were opened to the magnitude of these efforts and the deep linkages we all share across cultures and geographies.”

—Eva Antczak, Global Program Manager, Food at Google


Robyn S Metcalfe headshotRobyn Metcalfe is a historian, desert distance runner, author, producer, and food futurist with a lifelong hunger to take on irrational challenges. She has written four books: Food Routes: Growing Bananas in Iceland and Other Tales from the Logistics of Eating (2019), Meat, Commerce and the City: The Food Markets in Nineteenth Century London (2012), and The New Wizard War (1988). While at The University of Texas at Austin, she taught courses about the history of food and produced five food startup challenge prize events that provided funds for over 80 startups from around the world. She founded and led Food+City, a non-profit organization at UT dedicated to telling stories about the food supply chain through a print and digital magazine and supporting startups with an annual startup prize challenge. She has been known for her quest to track down the ingredients to dozens of meals in cities around the world, and you can find her speaking at events such as SXSW, Google’s Food Lab, PopTech, and TEDx.