In Food Routes, Robyn Metcalfe explores an often-overlooked aspect of the global food system: how food moves from producer to consumer. She finds that the food supply chain is adapting to our increasingly complex demands for both personalization and convenience-but, she says, it won't be an easy ride.
Networked, digital tools will improve the food system but will also challenge our relationship to food in anxiety-provoking ways. It might not be easy to transfer our affections from verdant fields of organic tomatoes to high-rise greenhouses tended by robots. And yet, argues Metcalfe-a cautious technology optimist-technological advances offer opportunities for innovations that can get better food to more people in an increasingly urbanized world.
Metcalfe follows a slice of New York pizza and a club sandwich through the food supply chain; considers local foods, global foods, and food deserts; investigates the processing, packaging, and storage of food; explores the transportation networks that connect farm to plate; and explains how food can be tracked using sensors and the Internet of Things. Future food may be engineered, networked, and nearly independent of crops grown in fields. New technologies can make the food system more efficient-but at what cost to our traditionally close relationship with food?
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"Narrator Donna Postel ensures that Robyn Metcalfe's plea for food efficiency comes through with passion. She rattles off the qualities of various types of packaging as if she's giving a high-powered sales pitch and quietly appeals to our senses as she talks about the food experience. Metcalf brings philosophical issues, such as the question of what is local, into a roundup of food developments, including a few listeners may have heard of such as the Impossible Burger and lab culture meat. Listeners may detect a bit of incredulity as the author mentions the facial recognition ability of poultry. Metcalfe ends with a dual discussion of the future of food--one evolutionary, one revolutionary. They differ only in degree, making it clear that change is coming to listeners' pantries. J.A.S. © AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine"
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