An entertaining and timely exploration of how our food—from where it’s grown to how we buy it—is in the midst of a transformation, showing how this is our chance to do better, for us, for our children, and for our planet, from a global expert on consumer behavior.
Our food system—how we produce, process, distribute, and consume food—is broken. But we have the opportunity to do better. Market researcher and bestselling author Paco Underhill sets out to solve these problems and show us where our eating and driving lives are headed in his newest book, How We Eat. Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a Sherlock Holmes for retailers,” Underhill takes an upbeat, hopeful, and characteristically witty approach to how we can change the way we consume. How We Eat reveals the future of food in surprising ways, like how the city is getting country-fied with the rise of farmer’s markets and rooftop farms; how supermarkets are on their way out with their most valuable real estate, their parking lot, for growing their own food and hosting community events; and how marijuana farmers, who have been using artificial light to grow a crop for years, have developed a playbook so mainstream merchants and farmers across the world can grow food in an uncertain future.
Paco Underhill is the expert behind the most prominent brands, consumer habits, and market trends and the author of multiple highly acclaimed books, including Why We Buy. In How We Eat, he shows how food intersects with every major battle we face today, from political and environmental to economic and racial, and invites you to the market to discover more.
Environmental psychologist Underhill (Why We Buy) leans more Malcolm Gladwell than Alice Waters in this patchy survey of American eating habits. He presents factoids galore: Most common search term on Grubhub during the pandemic? Wine, followed by cake. The world's oldest bar? Luain's Inn in Ireland goes back around 1,100 years. Occasionally, though, the writing reads like an advertisement for Underhill's company, Envirosell; the market research firm consults for clients like Walmart, which, in addition to employing "stellar" executives, he writes, sells more than 1.5 billion pounds of bananas annually. Though Underhill interviews experts like nutrition guru Marion Nestle, he sometimes seems out of his depth: when talking to a pair of Instagram food influencers about "yolk porn," he admits he was "clueless" about Instagram stories before the interview. The most appealing passages are his personal anecdotes such as the story of how he became the owner of a bar in New York City in his 20s, or the time when, as the eight-year-old son of a diplomat stationed behind the Iron Curtain ("the first sign I saw in western Germany: not 'Welcome to Freedom' but 'Drink Coca-Cola' "), he was plied with hamburgers and foosball by the Polish secret service. While pleasantly meandering, this fails to draw any meaningful conclusions about its subject. \n