The authors review the key features of trace elements in soils, plants and the food web on which human beings survive. Currently, the quality of food is highlighted and has become a subject of broad studies of various disciplines. Minor inorganic constituents of food, trace elements, are of special interest due to their specific properties in both abiotic and biotic environmental compartments. Hence, there is a need for comprehensive information on the distribution of trace elements in given environmnetal compartments and organisms. The authors' intention is to summarize up-to date interdisciplinary data for the concise presentation of our understanding of trace-element transfer in the chain from soil to man. Geochemical processes and information on international legislation on trace elements as both micronutrients and contaminants in soil and food are presented in parallel and are related to ecology and health risk assessments.