The Food Chain

The Food Chain

By BBC World Service

The Food Chain examines the business, science and cultural significance of food, and what it takes to put food on your plate.


Last orders: Why I quit hospitality

The hospitality industry is facing a staffing crisis, but why have thousands of chefs and waiters quit, and why now? Tamasin Ford speaks to three former restaurant and bar workers to find out why the coronavirus pandemic prompted them to leave, and what they're doing instead. We find out what, if anything, might tempt them back - higher pay, more sociable hours, or better work culture, maybe kinder customers? And we ask whether Covid-19 might really be the moment for industry reform. If you would like to get in touch with the show please email Producer: Simon Tulett Contributors: Adam Reiner, New York; Melissa Sosa, Miami; Renée Harper, Phoenix. (Picture: Upset waitress leaning on a bar. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
13/10/2128m 17s

The drinking experiment

Alcohol is part of the fabric of life in many cultures. It’s associated with socialising, dating, networking, even commiserating . But what happens if you take it away? Tamasin Ford brings together three people who decided to give up alcohol in a drinking culture. We ask them why and how they did it. What effect did it have on their lives professionally, socially, physically and emotionally? And would they ever want to drink again? If you Would like to get in touch with the show please email If you have found any of the issues raised in this programme upsetting and are looking for further information or support - please visit BBC Action Line by clicking on the link below. Contributors: Annie Grace - Author and founder This Naked Mind Colorado, USA Andy Ramage - Performance coach, Essex, UK Kate Gunn - Author 'The Accidental Soberista' Whitlow, Ireland (Picture: Hand on empty bottle. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
07/10/2127m 59s

The bug business

Insects are cheap, packed full of nutrients, and farming them for food could help save the planet. Convincing more people to eat them, though, remains a big challenge. Tamasin Ford speaks to three insect entrepreneurs trying to persuade the squeamish, especially in Europe and North America, to overcome their fears of crickets, worms, and spiders, and instead see them as a tasty, sustainable, alternative source of protein. We also hear that it’s not just the ‘yuck factor’ holding this fledgling industry back - should governments, chefs, and climate campaigners be doing more to support it? If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email Producer: Simon Tulett Contributors: Joseph Yoon, chef and executive director of Brooklyn Bugs; Marjolaine Blouzard, former co-owner of Bugs Cafe; Andy Holcroft, founding director of Grub Kitchen and Bug Farm Foods. (Picture: A dish of peas, carrots and worms prepared by chef David Faure. Credit: Didier Baverel/Getty Images/BBC)
29/09/2128m 29s

Cooking by computer

From bread making to Thai cuisine, cookery classes have become a popular way for people to learn new culinary skills and meet people. But coronavirus lockdowns suddenly brought these businesses to a standstill. Rory Cellan-Jones hears from three cooks, who quickly pivoted to virtual cooking classes to survive. Could they get over the technical challenges, and can you really teach someone to cook through a computer? (Picture: mother and child on a virtual cooking course. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) Contributors: Fayruza Abrahams, Taste Malay Rawan Al Waada, Rebels in the Kitchen Sue Hudson, Bread Workshops
22/09/2127m 6s

OCD, the kitchen, and me

Hot stoves, perishable food, and potentially dirty surfaces can make the kitchen a difficult place for someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. People with OCD will frequently experience unwanted thoughts, images or urges - which may include worries about contamination or harming themselves and others. They will often use repetitive behaviours to relieve their anxiety - including washing and cleaning, or repeatedly checking their actions. All this means that both cooking and eating food prepared by others can become very distressing. In this episode, Emily Thomas meets three people who have suffered from the disorder. They explain how debilitating the condition can be by describing just one aspect of daily life - the way they eat. Contributors: Chrissie Fadipe, Shai Friedland, Patricia Grisafi If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this programme, please see the related links section at the bottom of this page.
15/09/2128m 44s

The power of a photograph

Food photography is about much more than beautifully presented dishes in cookbooks - it’s also being used to change the way we think about what we eat. Emily Thomas meets three photographers to discuss some of their most powerful images - from a bloody scene in a Thai slaughterhouse to a display of human resilience in a refugee camp. They explore why still images of food and food production can be a compelling way to communicate about politics, society, and economics. We also hear about the impact such hard-hitting photography can have on the people behind the lens. To see the images described on the show, plus a few more, visit our homepage If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email Producer: Simon Tulett. Contributors: Jo-Anne McArthur; Dorte Verner; Li Huaifeng. (Picture: A Moken spear fisherman diving for his catch. Credit: Dorte Verner)
08/09/2135m 34s

The unstoppable rise of starch

Starches are among the most important and versatile additives in processed food, but most of us know little about them and there are some we should be wary of. Emily Thomas hears why starch is a food manufacturer’s best friend - making pies crispier, cakes airier, and yoghurts creamier. It’s even used to mimic and replace ingredients some of us want to limit, like sugar and fat. But although starch is a vital source of energy for all of us, some highly processed starches have been linked with negative health outcomes, and it can be hard for the consumer to find out which type they’re eating. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email Producers: Simon Tulett and Siobhan O'Connell. Contributors: Peter Hendrikx, Ingredion; Marty Jopkin, author of 'The Science of Food'; Fred Warren, The Quadram Institute (Picture: Bread 'flying' in mid-air. Credit: Getty/BBC)
25/08/2130m 17s

Is there a ‘chefsplainer’ in your kitchen?

Is there someone in your life who needs to have total control in the kitchen? Someone who breathes down your neck, micromanages your every move and can’t resist explaining exactly how to chop a carrot? If so, you may be in the company of what we’re calling ‘a Chefsplainer’. Or perhaps all this rings a bell because you are a chefsplainer? Whoever you are - this episode of The Food Chain is for you. Emily Thomas meets a married couple, a mother and son, and two friends to unpack their power dynamics in the kitchen. They explore why some people feel the need to take control over the cooking, how this reflects our emotional attachment to food, and whether what happens in the kitchen reflects or changes relationships outside it. Plus - why do some of us think that it’s ok to behave in certain ways in the kitchen - that we wouldn’t dream of elsewhere? If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email (Picture: couple argue in a kitchen. Credit: Getty/BBC) Contributors: Abby Saverino Russell Newlove Harriet Gore Joel Gore Louis Coiffait Ali Potter
04/08/2129m 27s

Is it time to kill the calorie?

Calories are ubiquitous across most of the world and have been used to help people manage their weight for more than a century. But have we been counting them wrong all along? In this episode, Emily Thomas finds out how the calorie is a lot more complex than many of us realise. Historian Louise Foxcroft describes how this measure of energy became the darling of scientists and public health experts across the globe, and the unwitting bedfellow of the diet industry. Geneticist Giles Yeo argues that calorie counting can actually be harmful, encouraging us to make unhealthy choices, and Bridget Benelam from the British Nutrition Foundation explains why she thinks that despite all its flaws, the calorie will be with us for a good while yet.
28/07/2132m 5s

Should 'junk food' sponsor sport?

Sugary drink and fast food sponsors have become almost inseparable from sporting superstars and major events like the Olympics. But why are these epitomes of health and exercise aligning themselves with products linked to obesity, heart disease and diabetes? Simon Tulett explores the reasons for this relationship's long history and hears about the damage it could be doing to young, impressionable fans. If this sponsorship is a problem, whose job is it to end it, and can it be done without leaving event organisers, athletes and grassroots sport facing a financial black hole? Producer: Sarah Stolarz Contributors: Michael Payne, former IOC marketing executive; Dr Sandro Demaio, VicHealth; Tuhin Mishra, Baseline Ventures; Tammy Aitken If you would like to get in touch with the show please email (Picture: Composite of an American football player catching a burger. Credit: Lew Robertson, Rubberball/Mike Kemp, Getty Images/BBC)
21/07/2130m 37s

Life lessons from the honey bee

When it comes to food, we have a lot more than honey to thank bees for - more than three quarters of the world’s food crops depend, at least in part, on pollinators. But bee populations, we often hear, are under threat, and that’s largely due to human behaviour. Emily Thomas speaks to three beekeepers about the challenges of making money from honey and the complicated relationship between the human and the honey bee. If we look carefully into the hive, she discovers, bees can teach us much about the environment, society and ourselves. Producer: Simon Tulett Contributors: Joan Kinyanjui, Yatta Beekeepers, Nairobi; Dale Gibson, Bermondsey Street Bees, London; Ian Steppler, Steppler Farms, Manitoba. If you would like to get in touch with the show please email (Picture: A honey bee on the end of a human finger. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
07/07/2129m 35s

The endurance diet

When you’re competing in a round-the-world race and you have to take all your food with you, what do you bring and how do you cook it? If you’re scrambling up and down mountains for days on end, or swimming across an entire ocean, how do you find the time to eat, and what can you stomach? Tamasin Ford speaks to three extreme endurance athletes about the planning, practicalities and monotony of these gruelling events. Is food simply fuel, or can it power competitors in other ways? Producer: Simon Tulett Contributors: Dee Caffari; Billy White; Benoit Lecomte If you would like to get in touch with the show please email (Picture: A runner in the 2019 Marathon des Sables race. Credit: Erik Sampers/Gamma-Rapho/Getty/ BBC)
30/06/2128m 27s

The lure of on-demand groceries

Do you need a lemon right now but don’t want to leave the house? Just download an app and you’ll have it in 13 minutes. That’s the kind of service you can expect from a swathe of new ‘rapid delivery’ grocery apps. Dozens have appeared around the world since the start of the pandemic, and investors have been flocking to invest, pumping billions into the sector. So are these apps the obvious next step in our on-demand lifestyles, or should they be a cause for concern? When it comes to food, can things become just a bit too convenient? Tamasin Ford hears from one company boss with big ambitions and a former competition lawyer who’s worried these apps could spell the end for smaller food stores. Plus, we travel to Istanbul in Turkey where people have already been using them for years. (Picture: Man sat on sofa groceries being handed to him. Credit: Getty/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show please email Contributors: Alec Dent: Co-Founder, Weezy Kaya Genç: Novelist Michelle Meagher: Founder, Balanced Economy Project
23/06/2127m 0s

The school that food built

When chef Jamie Oliver launched a campaign to improve British school meals, it inspired one headteacher to take things much further. Charlton Manor Primary School, in south London, now grows its own produce, keeps bees and chickens, and has a restaurant aiming for a Michelin star. Head Tim Baker has also overhauled the teaching curriculum to put food centre stage - from learning about fair trade banana growers in geography lessons to slicing pizzas to help with fractions. Tamasin Ford speaks to teachers and students to find out how they did it, and asks whether this could act as a model for how to teach our children about food's impact on our health and the planet. Producer: Simon Tulett If you would like to get in touch with the show please email (Picture: Students Sarah and Vaidas in the garden at Charlton Manor Primary School) Contributors: Students at Charlton Manor Primary School; Joe Grollman, teaching chef; Nick Shelley, gardener; Flavio Hernandez, head chef; Tim Baker, headteacher; Kim Smith, TastEd and City, University of London; Dennis Hollywood, teacher
16/06/2136m 57s

Raymond Blanc: My life in five dishes

The celebrated French chef Raymond Blanc tells Emily Thomas about his life through five dishes. From a childhood roaming magical forests in Eastern France, to the rather less enticing restaurant scene of 1970s England, Raymond describes how with little grasp of the language and no formal training, he quickly became one of the UK’s best known chefs. His restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, has been thriving for almost 40 years and during that time he has added a string of cookbooks, TV shows and brasseries to his name. Raymond explains how he balances being a gastronome and perfectionist with running a large business. But we also hear another side to the exuberant chef. The past year has been perhaps one the most difficult of Raymond’s life - closing his restaurants, the isolation of lockdown, the death of his mother and being hospitalised with coronavirus for a month. He tells us why he thinks it will make him a better man.
09/06/2135m 24s

Inside the mind of a kitchen gadget

Meet the unsung heroes of your kitchen drawers. When you hold a vegetable peeler or potato masher, do you ever think about the person behind it? We celebrate chefs and cookbook writers - but what about the people who make the tools that make it all easier? Emily Thomas meets three product designers who explain the thinking behind the everyday objects we keep in our kitchens. We’ll hear about accessibility and segregation - but also art and beauty. Welcome to the philosophy of kitchen gadgets. Contributors: Dan Formosa, Scott Jarvie, and Gavin Reay.
02/06/2127m 3s

Do we need to talk about ‘ultra-processed food’?

The Food Chain delves into the world of ‘Ultra-Processed Food’ - a term coined in Brazil that has been provoking debate around the world. Ultra Processed Food is a term that encompasses a broad range of common products from industrialised bread to breakfast cereals to chocolate bars. A growing body of evidence points to an association between their consumption and negative health outcomes including obesity, over-eating, depression, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes. Countries like Brazil are so concerned they are recommending people avoid UPFs all together. But in some of the world's most developed economies these foods make up, up to 80% of our diets, whilst the public understands very little about them. Emily Thomas speaks to representatives from the food industry and people at the forefront of the science into UPFs to try to find out whether this is just another dietary buzzword that muddies the waters when it comes to improving the nation’s diets - OR whether it’s something we should ALL be talking about. (Picture; Cookie talking in chocolate chips, Credit: BBC/Getty) If you would like to get in touch with the show please email Contributors: Gyorgy Scrinis: Associate professor of Food Politics and Policy, University of Melbourne Maria Laura Louzada: Assistant professor, Department of Nutrition at the University of Sao Paulo Kevin Hall: Senior investigator, National Institutes of Health, Maryland Kate Halliwell: Chief Scientific Officer, Food and Drink Federation, UK
26/05/2134m 56s

What's the appetite for gene edited food?

Gene editing could revolutionise agriculture, with some scientists promising healthier and more productive crops and animals, but will consumers want to eat them? With the first gene edited crops recently approved for sale, Emily Thomas hears why this technology might be quicker, cheaper and more accurate than the older genetic engineering techniques that produced GMOs, and asks whether these differences could make it more acceptable to a deeply sceptical, even fearful public. Some are not convinced by the claims, and there are concerns that current regulations won't protect consumers or the environment from any potential risks. By putting their faith in technology, have scientists and companies overlooked other simpler solutions to our food security problems? Producer: Simon Tulett If you would like to get in touch with the show please email (Picture: A DNA model on a plate. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) Contributors: Jennifer Kuzma, North Carolina State University; Hiroshi Ezura, University of Tsukuba and Sanatech Seed; Neth Daño, ETC Group; Philippe Dumont, Calyxt
19/05/2136m 7s

Dan Barber: My life in five dishes

In an illustrious career spanning three decades, there’s little that booking-writing, seed-breading, ‘philosopher chef’ Dan Barber has not put his hands to. Celebrated as the poster child of the ‘farm to fork’ movement, he tells Graihagh Jackson how a visit to a wheat farm called into question everything he thought he knew about agriculture and changed his cooking and ethos forever. Surprisingly though, Dan started life wanting to be a writer not a chef. Through five dishes, we hear how a failed stint as a baker, a baptism of fire in french kitchens and running a company from a mice-infested kitchen eventually won him over to the cause. We learn that an obsession with simplicity and flavour has taken him on a farming odyssey around the world, what coronavirus can teach us about the future of food, and how it all started with a humble dish of scrambled eggs. If you would like to get in touch please email (Picture: Chef Dan Barber. Credit: Richard Bolls/BBC)
12/05/2128m 3s

The blind cooks

Three people who lost their vision as adults tell Emily Thomas how they learnt to cook again, becoming so accomplished in the kitchen that they became restaurateurs, cookbook writers, food podcast makers and Masterchef winners. They explain how their relationships with food have changed, and why cooking with just four senses can make you a better chef. (Picture: Payal Kapoor, Simon Mahoney, Christine Hà. Credit: BBC/Julie Soefer Photography) If you would like to get in touch with the show please email Contributors: Christine Hà, chef, writer and owner of ‘The Blind Goat’ restaurant Payal Kapoor, host of ‘Rasoi ke Rahasya’ YouTube channel Simon Mahoney, author ‘First Catch Your Rabbit!: Or Cooking Without Fear’
05/05/2128m 28s

America's 'food apartheid'

Millions of Americans live in so-called ‘food deserts’ - areas where it’s hard to access fresh affordable food. For people who aren’t able to travel to other neighbourhoods to do their food shopping, this might mean microwave meals bought from the local gas station are the only way to feed themselves. Emily Thomas meets two people who live in areas where fresh food is hard to come by in Albany, NY State and St Louis, Missouri. They explain why they reject the term food desert in favour of ‘food apartheid’ - which they say addresses the food system in its entirety, including race. (Picture: two shopping trollies with food, credit: Getty/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show please email Contributors: Tyrean Lewis, Founder and CEO of Heru Urban Farming Roni Minter
28/04/2126m 15s

The man taking on fast food

Carlo Petrini is leading a food revolution - one that fights to protect local, traditional ingredients and farming methods in the face of a standardised, industrialised food system. From a protest against a McDonald's in the heart of Rome, to a network of more than 100,000 members in 160 countries, his Slow Food movement strives for a world where producers are fairly treated and the planet is better protected. Carlo tells Emily Thomas the story of his life and activism and why he believes that a post-pandemic world offers a profound opportunity for economic, environmental and social change - should we choose to take it. Producer: Simon Tulett If you would like to get in touch with the show please email (Picture: Carlo Petrini. Credit: James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images/BBC)
21/04/2131m 21s

How to love chillies

Chillies can be hard to love at first, but they are integral to the cuisines of many countries. So what do you do if hot peppers are at the heart of your food culture, but your child can’t stand the heat? Emily Thomas is joined by three cooks and parents. Each of them grew up in a food culture where chillies are important, but are now bringing up their own children in a country where hot peppers have less significance. We hear why you might want a child to develop a taste for chilli, how young they should be introduced to it, and whether you should ever resort to bribery. Guests: MiMi Aye, Sunrita Dutta, Mei Li.
14/04/2126m 32s

Portion distortion

Serving sizes have increased dramatically in recent decades. It’s happened so subtly that many of us simply don't realise, but it’s having a serious impact on our health and our planet. So, how can we reverse it? Emily Thomas learns how food manufacturers and clever marketers have nudged us into buying ever larger portions, leveraging ultra cheap ingredients and our own psychology. We hear that the phenomenon is so pervasive it’s also crept into the home, where many of us have lost any concept of what an appropriate portion is. Given the increasing awareness of the poor health and environmental outcomes linked to overconsumption, we find out what regulators and companies are doing to shrink portions back to a more sustainable size, and ask whether the real answer might lie in a fundamental shift in the way we all value food. Producer: Simon Tulett If you would like to get in touch with the show please email (Picture: A woman drinking from a giant coffee cup. Credit: Getty/BBC) Contributors: Pierre Chandon, professor of marketing and director of the INSEAD Sorbonne University Behavioural Lab, Paris; Theresa Marteau, director of the behaviour and health research unit at Cambridge University; Denise Chen, chief sustainability officer at Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Hong Kong.
07/04/2131m 57s

A year in the life of a Chinese restaurant

Anti-Asian hate has surged since the coronavirus outbreak, and some of the most common targets have been Chinese food businesses. Tamasin Ford speaks to three people who’ve witnessed the rise of Sinophobia first hand and seen it damage not only their livelihoods, but also their families. They explain why they’re not prepared to stay silent, as was often the case for previous generations, and how they plan to use food in the fight against racism and ignorance. Producers: Simon Tulett and Sarah Stolarz If you would like to get in touch with the show please email (Picture: A person holds a sign during a rally against anti-Asian hate in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Credit: Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty/BBC) Contributors: Patrick Mock, manager of 46 Mott bakery in New York; John Li, owner of Dumpling Shack, London; Ying Hou, owner of ShanDong MaMa, Melbourne
31/03/2126m 30s

Should the US abandon tipping?

President Biden has pledged to scrap the 'tipped wage' in the US - a salary system where diners effectively subsidise waiters' wages. It's a move that's divided restaurant staff across the country. Tamasin Ford hears from those who want a higher minimum wage and an end to a system they argue makes servers vulnerable to discrimination and harassment. On the other hand, some staff are outraged because, they say, the changes could wipe out their chance to make double or even triple their hourly wage in tips. With the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on the hospitality industry, restaurant owners too are wondering whether now is the time for a shake-up, and also how customers might react. If you would like to get in touch with the show please email (Picture: A waitress writes notes on a pad. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) Contributors: Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage USA; Dr Michael Lynn, professor of services marketing at Cornell University, New York; Xian Zhang, co-owner of Cafe China and Birds of a Feather, New York; Joshua Chaisson, president of the Restaurant Workers of America and a waiter in Portland, Maine
25/03/2126m 43s

The food that broke through lockdown

On the streets of Bucharest a woman unwraps a package of Chinese pepper ... and falls in love. In Portland Oregon, a family finds a new home - in a farmers market. A food writer opens her front door in London and finds a Chinese banquet waiting for her. On a cold winter’s morning, in a city 10,000 kilometres away from her family, a woman stands and waits for a taste of home. As part of the BBC World Service festival exploring how the Coronavirus pandemic is reshaping our social lives, Emily Thomas hears four stories of how food can bring us closer together when we’ve never been more distant from one another. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email (Picture: Two women sit on a bench talking, Credit: Getty/BBC) Contributors: Albertina Coacci Tse Yin Lee Fuchsia Dunlop Schlifka Collier
18/03/2128m 32s

Is it time to add vitamin D to food?

Vitamin D keeps our bones and muscles strong, and now there's some evidence it could help protect us from Covid-19. With many of us deficient in the 'sunshine vitamin' could food fortification be the best way to ensure we're getting enough? Emily Thomas hears how enriched milk and margarines have helped to almost completely eliminate vitamin D deficiencies in Finland, and how plans to fortify flour could prevent devastating bone diseases like rickets in Mongolia. As more countries are urged to act, we ask whose responsibility fortification should be - governments' or the food industry's? Plus, why is it so hard to get enough vitamin D from sunlight or our regular diets, and is it possible to get too much? If you would like to get in touch with the show please email Producers: Simon Tulett and Sarah Stolarz Contributors: Kevin Cashman, professor of food and health at University College Cork, Republic of Ireland; Amaraa Bor, operations manager at the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, Mongolia; Christel Lamberg-Allardt, professor of food and nutrition at the University of Helsinki, Finland (Picture: An optical illusion of a boy 'eating' the sun. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
11/03/2129m 27s

How to feed a footballer

When a footballer is around, does food simply become fuel? Emily Thomas is joined by the wives of two former professional footballers and the ex-captain of the New Zealand National team. They reveal how the game affects meals for the players and the people around them. We hear about the highs and lows of fuelling a professional athlete - from managing diet through injury and retirement, to turning a blind eye to 2am curries, to keeping all the chocolate hidden away. (Picture: Footballer shoots at goal. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show please email Contributors: Bex Smith Prudencia Buxton Shauna Muamba
04/03/2129m 34s

Alice Waters: My life in five dishes

Alice Waters is one of America’s most influential chefs and food writers. In the 1970s she led a food revolution that sparked a movement towards local, sustainable, organic food. Alice tells Emily Thomas about her life, from a suburban childhood in New Jersey to the radical politics of the University of California, Berkeley. She explains how she was inspired to set up a small French restaurant called Chez Panisse, after a trip to France as a student, and how it became a mecca for writers, chefs, musicians and artists. After almost half a century of food activism, Alice tells us that she still has plenty of work to do. She talks about her mission to educate children through her Edible School Yard project, how lockdown has focused her mind on climate change, and what it has felt like to see her beloved restaurant forced to close its doors over the past year. (Photo: Alice Waters. Credit: Amanda Marsalis/ BBC).
25/02/2134m 6s

Sourdough love stories

A spongy collection of flour, water, wild yeasts and bacteria may seem an unlikely object of affection, but some sourdough starters are truly cherished, and can even become part of the family. Emily Thomas hears how one starter has been used to bake bread in the same family since the Canadian gold rush more than 120 years ago, and speaks to a man trying to preserve sourdough diversity and heritage by running the world's only library dedicated to starter cultures. And a German baker, whose starter has survived Nazism and communism, reveals the commercial demands of maintaining it and why old ‘mothers’ (as sourdough starters are known) hold a powerful lesson for us all in nurturing living things. Producers: Simon Tulett and Sarah Stolarz (Picture: A woman holding bread. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) Contributors: Ione Christensen; Karl de Smedt, Puratos; Christoph Hatscher, Bäckerei & Konditorei Hatscher
18/02/2129m 10s

Has coronavirus changed school meals for ever?

In March 2020, as countries struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic, 90% of the world’s school children were sent home. With all eyes - and headlines - on the spread of Covid-19, it took a while for many to see that another crisis had been unleashed - hundreds of millions of children around the world were now going hungry because they relied on free school meals as their main source of nutrition. Not every parent had the money to buy more food - and few governments had adequate plans in place to help them. Emily Thomas hears extraordinary stories from Kenya and the US of how schools and charities fought to reach children throughout school closures. Could the coronavirus have changed school meals for good - and if so, why did it take a pandemic for the world to wake up to their importance? (Picture: boy with school lunch. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email Contributors: Wawira Njiru: Founder and Executive Director, Food for Education Carmen Burbano: Director of the World Food Programme’s School Feeding Division Dr. Gabriella McLoughlin: Research Associate, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri
11/02/2132m 53s

Nigella Lawson: My life in five dishes

The internationally-acclaimed food writer and TV cook Nigella Lawson, tells her life story through five memorable dishes. Often filmed devouring food with a showy relish, she tells Emily Thomas how her mother’s bulimia sparked a life-long determination to enjoy eating. Nigella explains how a series of bereavements has led her to memorialise her loved ones through recipes, and why she’s become more protective of her privacy in recent years. Nigella’s books and TV shows often give the impression of a gregarious host, cooking for a multitude of family and friends, but her latest book ‘Cook, Eat, Repeat’ and its accompanying TV series, partly written and produced during lockdown, show her on her own. We find out how she’s coped. (Picture: Nigella Lawson. Credit: Matt Holyoak/ BBC).
04/02/2137m 44s

Divided by drink: A tale from dry America

Trump vs Biden isn’t the only issue that's been dividing communities in the USA in recent months - some have also been arguing over alcohol. Alongside November’s presidential vote, several counties and cities voted on whether to give up their ‘dry’ status and allow alcohol sales, many for the first time in 100 years. This week we hear from Bath County, Kentucky, which narrowly voted to go ‘wet’. Emily Thomas hears the story of this small rural community told by the people on opposite sides of the sometimes bitter argument - a pastor whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, and a young metal worker convinced alcohol sales will bring prosperity. Producers: Simon Tulett and Sarah Stolarz Contributors: The Reverend Lowell Rice, pastor at Owingsville First Church of God, Kentucky Dallas Whisman, Bath County Alcohol Beverage Control administrator, Kentucky (Picture: A broken beer bottle on a US flag. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
28/01/2129m 58s

The power of food emojis

Do you give food emojis much thought? If not, perhaps you should. Emily Thomas hears how these tiny digital images can have a big social and economic impact. We reveal who decides which emojis are accepted and how you can propose your very own. Two Venezuelans living in the US explain why their brand new ‘flatbread emoji’ could be one the most significant achievements of their lives, and the emoji artist responsible for everything from the ‘dumpling’ to ‘bubble tea’ tells us why she sees her work as a calling, and how it has made her an unexpected cultural ambassador. (Picture: selection of food emojis. Credit: Lumen Bigott/Yiying Lu/BBC) Contributors: Sebastian Delmont, software developer Lumen Bigott, graphic designer Yiying Lu, artist and entrepreneur If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email
21/01/2126m 17s

The arctic eating adventure

When the only road into her town was blocked by a landslide, documentary filmmaker Suzanne Crocker was shocked by how quickly supermarket shelves went bare. It set her mind racing; would her remote Canadian town - just 300km from the Arctic circle - be capable of sustaining itself? She decided to undertake a radical experiment: an entire year of eating 100% local. Emily Thomas hears how she grew, hunted, foraged and negotiated her way through the seasons with a cupboard bare of salt, sugar and caffeine. How did she persuade three hungry teenagers to come on board, and what did a year of eating local do to family dynamics? Suzanne’s film about the experience is available on until 1 February 2021. If you would like to get in touch with The Food Chain please email (Picture: The Crocker family: Credit: Suzanne Crocker/BBC)
14/01/2130m 52s

Yotam Ottolenghi: My life in five dishes

The influential Israeli-born, UK-based chef tells his life story through some of his most memorable dishes. Often credited with bringing Middle Eastern food into the mainstream in the UK, he now has a string of restaurants and delicatessens behind him, along with several best-selling cookbooks, but he was a late starter in the kitchen - almost pursuing a career in philosophy instead. He tells Emily Thomas about his youth in the vibrant and diverse Jerusalem of the 1970s, coming out as gay in Tel Aviv, and the huge impact of his younger brother’s death. Usually reluctant to delve into politics, Yotam also explains why he’s decided to speak out in support of his industry during the coronavirus pandemic. Producers: Simon Tulett, Siobhan O'Connell and Sarah Stolarz If you would like to get in touch with the show please email (Picture: Yotam Ottolenghi. Credit: David Loftus/BBC)
07/01/2131m 10s

Too many cookbooks?

Many of us love cookbooks. For some, they are a useful tool, and for others a source of inspiration. But then there are those for whom they are a whole lot more. Emily Thomas meets two people who are obsessed with cookbooks, collecting thousands of copies, and building emotional connections with each of them. Irish food writer Diana Henry explains how books can become soulmates, and Californian chef Cindy Pawlcyn describes how it feels to have a collection built over decades, destroyed overnight. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email (Picture: Pile of books. Credit: Getty/BBC)
31/12/2026m 13s

What's food got to do with destiny?

What is it about garlic that wards off the evil eye? Why is rice sometimes thrown over the happy couple at a wedding? The way we grow, eat and use certain foods is said to bring us luck - good or bad - but why do we imbue them with these mystical powers, and why do these beliefs persist? Tamasin Ford explores some of the most common and also unusual food superstitions practiced around the world. Producers: Simon Tulett and Sarah Stolarz (Picture: Two hands pulling a wishbone. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) Contributors: Jayanti 'Jonty' Rajagopalan, owner of Detours India, Hyderabad; Mae Azango, journalist with FrontPage Africa, Liberia; Tasha Marks, food historian, London.
24/12/2027m 30s

Lockdown food fails

Coronavirus shutdowns have seen many more people step into the kitchen to cook for themselves this year. Whilst some have boasted about the joy, comfort and delectable dishes they’ve discovered, it was the food failures that really went viral. Three amateur cooks tell Tamasin Ford about their epic kitchen catastrophes and the valuable lessons failure taught them about food, and themselves. Producers: Simon Tulett and Sarah Stolarz (Picture: A woman looking at burnt cakes in the oven. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) Contributors: Ngo Thi Viet Anh; Heidi Allen; Dan Nash
17/12/2027m 2s

The chef who took on hospital food

Almost ten years ago, chef Joshna Maharaj walked into a hospital kitchen and was horrified by what she saw. Since then she’s been leading a movement to change what patients eat. But it’s not easy to make large cash-strapped public institutions up their food game, nor to win over cooks whose culinary skills have been reduced to opening packets. Joshna tells Emily Thomas the story behind her new book Take Back the Tray - Revolutionising Food in Hospitals, Schools and Other Institutions. (Picture: Joshna Maharaj. Credit: Joshna Maharaj/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email
03/12/2027m 8s

Why the whale hunt continues

Only three countries still hunt whales commercially. They do it despite little demand for whale meat and sometimes fierce international condemnation. So why do they continue? Emily Thomas finds out why Norway, Japan and Iceland still kill whales for their meat and discovers that tradition, culture and a strong sense of national identity can outweigh all of these factors. She hears why aggressive international pressure, particularly from environmental or animal welfare NGOs, can backfire, and speaks to the man behind a campaign that may have helped end commercial whaling in one of these countries for good. Producers: Simon Tulett and Sarah Stolarz (Picture: A captured minke whale is lifted by a crane at a port in Kushiro, Japan, in July 2019. Credit: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/BBC) Contributors: JohnJo Devlin, BBC reporter; Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, Norway’s Minister of Fisheries and Seafood; Michal Kolmaš, assistant professor of Asian studies and international relations at the Metropolitan University in Prague; Sigursteinn Másson, journalist and anti-whaling campaigner
26/11/2031m 9s

Selassie Atadika: My life in five dishes

Selassie Atadika spent a decade working for the UN in some of the world’s most volatile regions, and it led to a realisation - that food has an essential role to play in rebuilding economies and bringing communities together. The Ghanaian chef is now on a mission to revive many of Africa’s lost or forgotten foods, and make the rest of the world sit up and take notice. She tells Emily Thomas how, aged five, she was forced to flee her home in Ghana following a military coup, and why she caused a ‘scandal’ in her family by dropping her plans to be a doctor for a career in humanitarian work. Selassie is now gaining international acclaim for Midunu, a nomadic restaurant she set up in her family’s former home in Accra, which embodies what she calls ‘new African cuisine’. She explains how she wants to use it to make the continent healthier, wealthier, and greener. (Picture: Selassie Atadika. Credit: Selassie Atadika/BBC)
12/11/2035m 10s

Opening a restaurant in a pandemic

Is there ever a good time to open a restaurant? Surely, during a global pandemic isn’t one of them? As coronavirus rips through communities around the globe, lockdowns are forcing tens of thousands of restaurants to close their doors. Tamasin Ford meets the entrepreneurs who are doing the opposite. We hear how a West African restaurant in London and a Chinese restaurant in LA are managing their openings. Plus, how putting food on the menu, became a matter of survival for one of London's top dance clubs. (Picture: Adejoké, Henry and Stuart. Credit: BBC/Adejoké Bakare/Henry Molina/Stuart Glen) If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email Contributors: Adejoké Bakare: Chishuru restaurant, London Henry Molina: Good and Nice restaurant, LA Stuart Glen: co-founder The Cause, London
05/11/2027m 4s

How to enjoy eating with your own children

Mealtimes with small children, whether they are your own or someone else's, can be a far from relaxing experience. Dinner with a toddler can be a wild affair, leaving the adults around the table exhausted. Is this a key part of a child’s learning, or should we get in quick and teach table manners in the high chair? How can a parent banish mealtime battles and turn a child into a dream dinner companion? And what can we tell about our attitudes to food and parenting philosophies when we look at how we teach our children to eat? Emily Thomas meets three parents from around the globe, who’ve mastered the art of a chilled family mealtime. Contributors: Pamela Druckerman, author of French Children Don’t Throw Food, Sherlyn Kim, CEO of Molly Manners Korea and Vaishali Sudan Sharma of The Champa Tree parenting blog.
29/10/2028m 29s

One election, two farmers

Four years ago some of the biggest electoral shifts in the US were seen in the north-central state of Wisconsin. It was one of the swing states that decided that election. And it could be again. This week Emily Thomas hears the stories of two farmers who live and work in this key battleground region. How much have Donald Trump's trade wars with China, Canada and Mexico challenged a traditionally Republican community? And has Joe Biden offered enough incentives for farmers to vote Democrat? (Picture: Carrie Mess and Will Hsu. Credit: Will Hsu/Carrie Mess/BBC) If you would like to get in touch, please email Contributors: Carrie Mess, dairy farmer Will Hsu, farmer and President - Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises
21/10/2026m 36s

How does food make a president?

Presidential campaigns are all about connecting with voters, and Donald Trump and Joe Biden have both been using food to do it. Emily Thomas hears how they’ve targeted food brands, food media and even food influencers to help bolster their image, promote their policies, and reach new audiences. But the deep cultural connections that come with food can make it a risky policy - eating the wrong thing or in the wrong way on the campaign trail can have a devastating impact. And, entertaining though all of this might be, does it detract from the serious food issues that affect the lives of every American, and the fact that actual food policies are rarely discussed? Contributors: Emily Contois, assistant professor of media studies at the University of Tulsa Jeremy Jacobowitz, @brunchboys Jayson Lusk, distinguished professor and head of the agricultural economics department at Purdue University (Picture: Fries being dropped into a ballot box. Credit: Getty Images/Katie Horwich/BBC)
14/10/2029m 10s

Facing fat hatred

Does it feel uncomfortable calling someone fat because we think there is something bad about fatness? And if so - does that come from a concern about health, or is it something more insidious? Emily Thomas examines how society sees fatness - exploring the idea that we live in an inherently fat-phobic world. We hear from those who say viewing fatness as a health problem alone, obscures some uncomfortable truths about poverty, racism, misogyny and ourselves. What would a less fat-phobic world look like? (Picture: woman sitting on sofa. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the team, please email Contributors: Esther D. Rothblum, professor of women's studies, San Diego State University Sonya Renee Taylor, founder, The Body is Not An Apology Sabrina Strings, associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine Sigrún Daníelsdóttir, project manager for mental health promotion, Iceland Directorate of Health
07/10/2028m 43s

Plundering the planet under cover of coronavirus

Some thought Covid-19 would give our planet a breather while many of our movements and industries were restricted, but there are worrying signs that in some parts of the world exactly the opposite is happening. Emily Thomas finds out how the pandemic has left many people hungry, desperate, and turning to rainforests and wild animals to feed themselves, whilst for others there's growing evidence the virus could be providing cover to make profit at the planet’s expense. We hear allegations of illegal slashing and burning of an Indonesian rainforest to make way for a palm oil plantation and ask Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, what it’s doing to make sure its products are deforestation free. The head of the UN’s Environment Programme explains why it’s more vital than ever for countries to put environmental protection at the heart of their economic recovery plans, and a conservation worker in Kenya shares fears that decades of animal and environmental preservation work is in danger of being undone. Contributors: Michael O'Brien-Onyeka, senior vice president for the Africa field division at Conservation International; Farwiza Farhan, founder of HAkA; Benjamin Ware, head of responsible sourcing, Nestlé; Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (Picture: Giraffe at Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
30/09/2035m 11s

Coronavirus: Obesity's defining moment?

Emily Thomas asks whether the coronavirus pandemic will turn out to be the defining moment in the fight against obesity. Will we see governments take radical action, now that the pandemic has turned the spotlight on this growing global problem? And why hasn’t the pandemic made most of us eat more healthily? Even experts have been surprised by just how strong an impact obesity has been found to have on the risks of coronavirus. We hear from Professor Barry Popkin, of the University of North Carolina, who led a major study into the relationship between the two. He tells us he’s worried that food companies are using the pandemic to push ultra processed food on low-income populations. Professor Corinna Hawkes, of City, University of London, explains how obesity policy became personal in the UK after Boris Johnson caught the virus. And Jacqueline Bowman-Busato, Policy Lead for the European Association for the Study of Obesity, tells us how her own experience of living with obesity has led her to lobby for changes in how obesity is viewed and treated. She says the pandemic has provided a much needed wake up call on a neglected and misunderstood public health issue. If you would like to get in touch with the show please email (Picture: Fat cells, Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
23/09/2027m 16s

The preppers and the pandemic

Preppers have been preparing for a global emergency like coronavirus for years, stocking up supplies just in case society was ever brought to a standstill. So when our food systems began to buckle under the pressure of the pandemic, were they sitting pretty, and has this much ridiculed community now been vindicated? Emily Thomas revisits some preppers she first met three years ago to see how they’ve been coping since the crisis hit. Pete Stanford tells her he didn’t need to join the supermarket scramble for food in the first weeks of lockdown, but the crisis has made him rethink the way he preps and how much he’s willing to share. Lincoln Miles tells us he’s had a flood of new customers to his prepping shop, but that even he wasn’t prepared for the spike in demand. And we speak to a prepping newcomer, New York Times reporter Nellie Bowles, who’s gone from ridiculing this community to believing that being prepared is the socially responsible thing to do. (Picture: A man with a backpack and axe in the forest. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
16/09/2027m 30s

The fertiliser that blew up Beirut

Following the Beirut explosion, we’re exploring the chemical that caused the blast - ammonium nitrate. It’s something many of us will have come across before, it’s in some of our antibiotics and used to feed yeast but it’s most commonly sold as a fertiliser. Graihagh Jackson examines how this substance has changed the world - feeding millions on the one hand, and fuelling warfare, pollution and biodiversity loss on the other. If you would like to get in touch, please email (Picture: Ammonium nitrate on petri dish. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
09/09/2029m 44s

Margarita Forés: My life in five dishes

She was born into one of the most prominent and wealthy families in the Philippines, but life has not been easy for Margarita Forés. She was forced to flee her country during President Ferdinand Marcos’ military dictatorship, she battled bulimia as a young woman and has overcome cancer twice. She tells Graihagh Jackson how cooking has helped her cope with some of her toughest challenges, offered a way to win her family’s approval, and helped her prove to herself that she could make it on her own. Now an award-winning chef and owner of Cibo, a successful chain of restaurants in her home country, she made her mark by blending Filipino ingredients with Italian cooking techniques, after falling in love with the country whilst at a cookery school there. And she has set her sights on pushing for Filipino food to be internationally recognised, whilst championing local farmers and their ingredients. (Photo: Margarita Forés. Credit: Margarita Forés/BBC)
03/09/2030m 10s

Sean Sherman: My life in five dishes

After decades of racism, persecution and forced assimilation, Native Americans had lost many of their traditional foods and recipes. Award-winning chef Sean Sherman has made it his life’s mission to bring them back from the brink of extinction. He tells Graihagh Jackson about a “feral” childhood spent on a vast reservation in South Dakota, USA, and how his impoverished community was forced to rely on highly processed, government-supplied commodity foods, which he says have had serious and long-term health implications for his people. A successful but highly stressful career running restaurant kitchens pushed him to the point of burnout – he explains how a recuperation mission to Mexico led to an epiphany about his own food heritage and a meticulous effort to revive it and rid it of colonial influences. He’s since written an award-winning cookbook, set up a non-profit to educate others about North America’s native cuisines, plans to open a restaurant next year, and tells us he wants to make his indigenous food movement a global one. (Picture: Sean Sherman. Credit: Heidi Ehalt/BBC)
26/08/2032m 38s

Food media's moment of reckoning?

When a misguided halloween costume resurfaced on social media in June - no one could have predicted the events that ensued. It ignited a twitter storm about racism in food writing and led ultimately to the resignation of two food editors at major US publications. Graihagh Jackson hears from the whistleblower at the centre of the controversy and from critics of mainstream food media, who say myopic, white-washed and problematic representations of food are all-too-common. We hear from people trying to change the status quo and ask if this is the moment of reckoning the industry needs. If you would like to get in touch please email (Picture: Letters on a chopping board. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
19/08/2028m 53s

Meatpacking's coronavirus problem

Meatpacking plants around the world are quickly becoming hotspots for Coronavirus outbreaks. In many rural parts of the United States, meat processing factories have now become the main source of Covid-19 infections. But why are other food factories not experiencing the same problem? And why is the US so adversely affected? Tamasin Ford takes a look at the unique conditions at meat processing factories that enable the virus to thrive and how the outbreaks have revealed some of the gruelling working conditions facing many workers around the world. In Denmark, Europe’s largest pig processor, we explore whether artificial intelligence and the use of robots could help prevent future outbreaks, or whether it’s simply about providing better working conditions for people working in the factories. If you'd like to get in touch with the team, please email (Picture: A man cuts meat for sausage. Credit: Lev Fedoseyev/TASS via Getty Images/BBC)
12/08/2027m 33s

Single parents: Cooking solo

Money, time, and healthy choices can make mealtimes a challenge for many parents, but how do things change when sole responsibility falls on one adult's shoulders? In some parts of the world single parent families are now more common than ever before, but how does being a single parent influence your relationship with food, and also your child's? Tamasin Ford speaks to three lone-parents about their experiences: Salma Abdo, from Madrid, explains why mealtimes with her young son were the loneliest part of her day; Billy McGranaghan, founder of London charity Dads House, says he regularly had to skip meals so his child could eat; and Neferteri Plessy, who runs Single Mums Planet, in Santa Monica, California, talks about how food decisions can be tricky to negotiate with your ex. But all three describe how, despite the challenges, food can help create unique bonds in a single parent home through cooking and eating together. Producer: Simon Tulett Studio Manager: Hal Haines (Picture: Neferteri Plessy, Salma Abdo, and Billy McGranaghan. Credit: BBC)
06/08/2027m 40s

Dominique Crenn: My life in five dishes

Abandoned by her biological mother at six months old, a victim of sexual harassment and discrimination in the kitchen, and a recent breast cancer survivor – Dominique Crenn has faced her fair share of battles. The award-winning chef, author and campaigner – not to mention the first woman in the US to win three Michelin stars – tells Graihagh Jackson how sheer determination and a desire to make a difference have taken her to the top. She discusses the five key dishes that have shaped her life, from enjoying fresh oysters in a fish market with her father at 4am, to tomatoes – the ingredient that showed her the power of food and the importance of where it comes from. Dominique tells of her struggles in a male-dominated restaurant world, the heartache of her father’s death, and how she’s facing up to her latest challenge – Covid-19. Plus, she explains her recent decision to scrap land-based meat from all of her restaurants, and why cancer has prompted her to seek out her birth mother. Producer: Simon Tulett Studio manager: Annie Gardiner (Picture: Dominique Crenn. Credit: Jordan Wise/BBC)
30/07/2031m 10s

Does comfort food really comfort us?

It’s something many of us intuitively believe - certain foods have the power to make us feel better. But what’s the science behind this, why do we crave certain dishes, and do they provide solace for everyone? Graihagh Jackson explores what’s really happening when we turn to food for a pick-me-up: psychologist Shira Gabriel explains these foods’ links to memory and social connection; and psychiatrist Lukas Van Oudenhove reveals why so many comfort foods are high in fat or carbohydrates, and how this could be problematic in the long run. But comfort foods aren’t always comforting - we find out why an unhappy childhood can mean they provide little or no solace. And the concept is far from universal - food writer Jenny Linford says in some food cultures the idea is irrelevant. Plus, of all the millions of dishes out there, why do some rise to comfort food status? Food writer Kay Plunkett-Hogge explains why rice is the ultimate comfort food for many Thais. Producer: Simon Tulett Studio Manager: Hal Haines Let us know what you think about the show - email (Picture: A man hugging a giant ice cream. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
23/07/2032m 37s

Asma Khan: My life in five dishes

When Asma Khan was born it was said her mother cried, but not tears of joy. As a second daughter born in 1960s India, Asma felt she was a disappointment, even a burden, because she could not inherit and would cost her family a fortune in dowries. But she went on to defy those low expectations and open one of London’s most sought-after restaurants. Asma tells us how she could barely boil an egg when she first got married and moved to England, about the intense loneliness she felt so far from home, and how the smell of paratha convinced her that the only way to recover was to learn how to cook. The Darjeeling Express founder describes the restaurant’s humble beginnings as a supper club in her London flat, why it has always had an all-female kitchen, and her plans to use food to empower female refugees and prostitutes. This programme was first broadcast in January 2020. Let us know what you think about the show - email (Picture: Asma Khan with a pakora and chutney. Credit: BBC)
16/07/2026m 16s

Jacques Pépin: My life in five dishes

Jacques Pépin is a household name across much of the US. He shot to fame starring alongside Julia Child on TV cookery shows in the 1990s, has written more than 30 books, and picked up multiple awards. He tells Graihagh Jackson about his precarious childhood dodging bombs in wartime France and the near-fatal car crash that ended his restaurant career, but set him on a path towards celebrity. Plus, the 84-year-old explains why he’s still sharing his cooking and recipes with the world through the coronavirus lockdown. Producer: Simon Tulett Studio Manager: Hal Haines Let us know what you think about the show - email (Picture: Jacques Pépin. Credit: Tom Hopkins/BBC)
09/07/2034m 47s

Losing your taste to coronavirus

Taste and smell loss are thought to be two of the most common symptoms of coronavirus, but some of the least understood, persisting long after the virus has gone. Scientists all over the world are racing to find out why Covid-19 is attacking these senses, and what this might teach us about the virus and how to track it – we hear about the latest theories from Turkey-based research scientist Maria Veldhuizen from The Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research. Meanwhile, thousands of coronavirus survivors are struggling to adapt to a life without taste and smell, including a young doctor who tested positive for the virus more than three months ago. She tells Graihagh Jackson how she’s been desperately trying to recover her sense of smell ever since, and how it has destroyed one of her great passions – food. We hear how smell is vital to the way we perceive flavour, but that it’s also important in other ways. Dr Rachel Herz, a neuroscientist and researcher on the psychology of smell at Brown University and Boston College in the US, explains that long-term smell loss is linked to depression because of the way the sense is plugged into the part of our brain that processes emotions and memories. But there is some hope - we speak to Chrissi Kelly, from the charity Abscent, who tells us how it’s possible to train your nose to smell again. Producer: Simon Tulett Studio Manager: Hal Haines Let us know what you think about the show - email (Picture: A woman staring at an apple on a plate. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
02/07/2029m 15s

Is lockdown good news for fish?

The fishing industry has been brought to its knees in some countries, with Covid-19 forcing fishing to stop. Graihagh Jackson asks if the global slowdown could present an opportunity for beleaguered fish stocks to flourish once more and what would it mean for the fishing industry. If you would like to get in touch please email (Picture: Fisherman holds fish on trawler. Credit: Chris Furlong/Getty Images/BBC)
24/06/2026m 22s

Antonio Carluccio: My life in five dishes

Antonio Carluccio describes his most memorable dishes in his last ever interview. The cook, restaurateur and writer, known as the 'Godfather of Italian cooking', died five days after this recording was made, aged 80. He tells Emily Thomas about his passion for simple, authentic Italian cuisine, and why he only began to pursue it professionally relatively late in life. He describes his horror at Britain's version of Italian food in the 1970s, his obsession with mushrooms, and reveals how much the late opera singer Luciano Pavarotti could devour in one sitting. Plus, hear about his struggles with fame and heartache, the tensions that came with expanding his eponymous chain of restaurants and delis, and the dish he would choose as his last. This interview was first broadcast on 16 November 2017. (Picture: Antonio Carluccio. Credit: Fred Duval/FilmMagic via Getty Images/BBC)
18/06/2027m 13s

Coronavirus: The survival business

Food businesses have been some of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Worldwide lockdowns have forced thousands of restaurants, bars and cafes to close, but many entrepreneurs have managed to keep their businesses afloat, forced to innovate to survive. We revisit some past Food Chain guests to find out how they’ve been coping and ask what they’ve learned about their business, their customers, and themselves. Tamasin Ford speaks to a chocolate maker in Ghana who hasn’t sold a single bar since the country locked down in March, and a fried chicken entrepreneur in South Africa who’s turned to feeding frontline workers to keep his kitchens and staff going. But business hasn’t been all bad - we hear from a baker in Montreal, Canada, who says he’s never sold more bread and has started selling bags of flour to meet a growing demand from home bakers. Plus, a restaurant critic from Melbourne, Australia, tells us what it was like going out for a meal for the first time in more than three months. Let us know what you think about the show by emailing or using #BBCFoodChain on social media. Presenter: Tamasin Ford Producers: Simon Tulett and Siobhan O’Connell Studio manager: Hal Haines (Picture: A woman picks up food and a drink from a restaurant during lockdown. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
11/06/2030m 25s

Has the crisis made us more generous?

Have you noticed how there have been so many acts of kindness during the pandemic, especially when it comes to food? Graihagh Jackson hears how millions were raised in a matter of days to feed healthcare workers and how people have rallied to support food banks in the past few months. But what is behind this outpouring of generosity? And crucially, can it last? This week we delve into the psychology of why so many have felt compelled to help and ask whether COVID-19 could make us more generous. If you would like to get in touch, please email (Picture: woman carries box of food from food bank, Credit: REUTERS/ Lucy Nicholson/BBC)
03/06/2026m 48s

Is our food creating pandemics?

Scientists are still trying to uncover exactly how COVID-19 emerged, although some evidence suggests the disease may have originated in bats and infected us via another animal host. Recently, we’ve seen the emergence of many such viruses - so-called zoonotic diseases - that jump from animals to humans; including Ebola, SARS and MERS. Some scientists believe they’re becoming increasingly common and that the primary driver is likely food and farming. So how have zoonotic diseases been dealt with in the past and can we learn any valuable lessons about our food chain there? Graihagh Jackson travels to Malaysia to uncover the story of Nipah virus that first emerged in 1999, killing up to 75% of those it infected. We hear how the virus emerged, how it changed the community there forever and how it was eventually curbed. Could the story of Nipah virus hold the key to how we protect ourselves from future pandemics like COVID-19? If you would like to get in touch, please email (Picture: Forest burning in the Amazon. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
27/05/2028m 37s

Should China ban 'wet' markets?

China’s so-called ‘wet’ markets have been under intense scrutiny ever since the first coronavirus cases were linked to one in Wuhan six months ago. Now a growing number of influential figures, including leading White House adviser Dr Anthony Fauci, are calling for them to be banned. But the suggestion has been met with dismay and even anger in China - an expert on the markets tells Graihagh Jackson they are the main source of fresh food in Chinese cities and a healthier and more affordable option than many supermarkets. A market trader in Beijing tells us they play a vital cultural and community role too. But if these markets were shut down, would it prevent future outbreaks? We speak to a virus-hunter and expert in the region, who explains that it's global agriculture’s growing encroachment into wild spaces that's making us most vulnerable to emerging infectious diseases. If you would like to contact us about this or any other episode please email (Picture: A vendor sells meat at Xihua Farmer's Market in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China. Credit: Alex Plavevski/EPA/BBC)
14/05/2028m 35s

What next for restaurants?

Lockdowns around the world have seen many restaurants close overnight, but how many will be able to re-open once restrictions are lifted? And if so, what will they look like? Graihagh Jackson hears from a top New York chef and a London food writer how an existing culture of high rents, razor-thin margins and low-paid workers has plagued the industry leaving many vulnerable to permanent closure. Could this forced break be a chance to ‘reset’ for the better? A strategist explains how restaurants need to completely re-orientate their business models to weather the storm and keep their suppliers in business in the process. Plus, a veteran franchise investor explains why - contrary to many others - he is excited about the opportunity this time of huge change could bring. If you would like to get in touch please email (Picture: Man arranges single table outside his restaurant in Rome. Credit:EPA/FABIO FRUSTACI/BBC)
06/05/2027m 8s

Coronavirus: Chefs fight back

Coronavirus has crippled the restaurant industry, leaving thousands of chefs fighting to save their businesses, but some have been using the crisis, and their own influence, to help and inspire others. Massimo Bottura, one of the world’s most celebrated chefs, hasn’t been able to serve guests in his three-Michelin-star restaurant, Osteria Francescana, since early March. He tells Graihagh Jackson why, instead, he has been inviting the world into his home kitchen via Instagram every night during Italy’s long lockdown. Deepanker Khosla, one of Thailand’s top young chefs, refused to close his kitchen when Bangkok’s eateries were forced to shut. He’s now using it to cook thousands of meals for the migrant workers who’ve been left jobless and hungry by the pandemic. And Ana Roš, chef at one of the world’s top 50 restaurants - Hiša Franko - has been creating new products to support her local farmers and suppliers, and is trying to use the crisis to reform Slovenia’s entire food industry. If you'd like to get in touch with us please email (Picture: Massimo Bottura, Ana Roš, and Deepanker Khosla handing out food to a woman in Bangkok. Credit: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan, Pablo Cuadra, Getty Images, Deepanker Khosla, BBC)
30/04/2029m 41s

Death by coronavirus or hunger?

As coronavirus continues to spread and lockdowns leave swathes of people unemployed, a new problem is emerging: hunger. It is being witnessed in communities around the world, especially where people are living hand to mouth. We travel to India and Kenya to see how the unfolding hunger crisis is being addressed. Graihagh Jackson hears from one of Nairobi's poorest neighbourhoods - Mathare - that many are not able to buy enough food and are surviving on one, innutritious meal per day. The local community has rallied to provide fresh water, food donations and cash transfers - but it is not nearly enough to address the scale of the problem. Many say they would rather go out to find work and risk getting coronavirus, than stay home and face starvation. Then to Delhi, where a last-minute lockdown in the country has left thousands of migrant workers stranded and without the means to feed themselves. We speak to a food charity on the unprecedented need for food, how you manage preparing and distributing 22,000 meals per day and what this could all mean for the future of how hunger is perceived and addressed. To get in touch with the show, please email (Picture: Man receives food donation. Credit: Getty Images/Hindustan Times/BBC)
22/04/2029m 44s

My quarantine kitchen

As the spread of Covid-19 confines millions of us to our homes, we go behind closed doors to hear how people all over the world are using food and cooking to help them through the crisis. Graihagh Jackson speaks to an artist from Iran who has found inspiration in stories of shared recipes, a sense of healing in her own cooking, and hope for a more peaceful future. A young lawyer from Italy tells us that lockdown meals have helped her reconnect with her family, but that her mother’s exuberance in the kitchen has posed a problem for her waistline. And an Azerbaijani living alone in Barcelona explains why she set up virtual tapas parties to replace the physical ones she’d enjoyed with other expats before the pandemic. We also hear listeners’ quarantine cooking stories: a Sri Lankan who now lives in Australia tells us how the crisis has reminded him of growing up amid civil war and driven him to reconnect with the food and culture of his birthplace; and a newlywed from Vatican City tells us how discovering a passion for cooking has helped him express his love for his new wife, and that the kitchen has made him a better person. Let us know what you think about the show, or share your own quarantine cooking stories by emailing (Picture: A man in quarantine taking delivery of groceries. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
16/04/2028m 20s

Coronavirus: Food’s frontline heroes

This week, we pay homage to the workers making sure we stay fed in times of lockdown. As farmers around the world struggle to find enough people to plant and harvest their crops, we travel to Bavaria in Germany to hear from a school teacher-turned hop farmer about what it’s like to swap his classroom for a field. He tells Graihagh Jackson how the backbreaking work has changed his perceptions about food and farming. A Welsh Michelin-starred chef talks about his decision to move his family into his restaurant and start making thousands of free meals for hospital workers, after coronavirus forced him to shut his business. A supermarket cashier reveals the toll her job is taking and her hopes the pandemic may change perceptions about the importance of frontline food work. Plus, a trucker in the US says his work transporting goods for Walmart has never been more appreciated by the general public, as empty supermarket shelves highlight how vital his job is in keeping food flowing. If you would like to get in touch please email (Picture: Man brings meal to hospital workers. Credit: Natalia Fedosenko/Getty Images/BBC)
08/04/2028m 28s

Coronavirus: Where did all the food go?

As coronavirus tightens its grip on the world, many of us are facing life in lockdown and are worried about food. Graihagh Jackson takes a journey along the global food supply chain - via her grandparents - to see how it is holding up so far through the crisis. We hear how supermarkets are responding to the strain of widespread stockpiling and panic buying and what implications this could have on the future of food shopping. Food giant Unilever reveals how they are weathering transport bottlenecks and are adapting production to cater to the 'post-virus' food penchants of different nations. As global lockdowns affect the flow of local and migrant labour forces we speak to one of Europe’s largest fresh food producers about how they will manage this season’s fruit and vegetable harvests; and the United Nations warns that cooperation by consumers and between countries is key, if we are to avert a global food crisis. If you would like to get in touch, please email (Picture: Woman stares at nearly empty supermarket shelves. Credit: Michel Porro/Getty Images/BBC)
01/04/2029m 6s

How not to run a brewery

If you are a beer lover, the idea of running your own brewery might sound like the stuff of dreams. And it might seem like the perfect time to do it - an explosion of interest has seen craft breweries pop up in huge numbers in many parts of the world. But the industry is notoriously hard to crack. Expensive equipment, the space required for brewing, a need for big marketing budgets and fierce competition from other brands are all factors. Then there’s the hugely important, but rather subjective question of whether your beer actually tastes any good. Tamasin Ford speaks to three craft beer aficionados in the UK, USA and Brazil who all tried - and failed - to turn their hobby into a viable business. They talk about their hopes, hurdles and mistakes and whether the journey has affected their love for the amber nectar. If you'd like to get in touch with us about the show please email (Picture: Jon Cockley, Sergio Fraga and Carol Waggener. Credit: Handsome Frank, Sergio Fraga, Bold Missy Brewery, BBC)
26/03/2026m 22s

The mystery of mukbang

What's the fascination with watching total strangers eat plate after plate of junk food? Is it a grotesque and irresponsible spectacle, or could it be a way to tackle loneliness, and even help some deal with their own food issues? Graihagh Jackson finds out what's fuelling the internet craze 'mukbang' and asks what it says about our attitudes to food and each other. An avid mukbang watcher explains how it gives her emotional and social connections she's lacking in her offline life, and also helps her resist the urge to eat foods she shouldn't. Performer Moxie Beast describes how she amplifies the sounds of her crunching and chewing to soothe her viewers, and how she tries to stay healthy while doing it. In South Korea, where mukbang started, we hear how mukbang is helping to forge digital communities at a time when many, especially the young, are living alone. Plus, a clinical psychiatrist talks us through his latest research into the links between mukbang and eating disorders.
19/03/2031m 15s

The end of the road for street food?

Street food is one of the many charms of South East Asia, but there are signs this much-loved way of life and much-needed source of food is on the decline. We visit three of the region’s best-known street food areas – Bangkok, Singapore and Penang – to find out why. A food hawker in Bangkok tells us his family’s stall, like thousands of others, was forced off the streets as part of a government move to clean up the city. Plus, Graihagh Jackson hears how these changes could have serious consequences for the city’s residents, many of whom have no kitchens at home and rely on cheap street food for their daily meals. A family of street food vendors in Singapore, where the trade has been moved into enclosed food courts, tells us it’s long, hard and poorly-paid work, and that young people often have no interest in carrying on the tradition. And in Penang, Malaysia, a government move to preserve local dishes by banning foreign workers may have backfired by removing a source of cheap labour vital to keeping many vendors afloat. (Picture: A street food vendor in Bangkok, Thailand. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
12/03/2027m 38s

Fried chicken: Fast food champion

Fried chicken is loved the world over - it’s the most popular dish in global fast food, according to industry analysts, eclipsing even the burger. From Senegal to Singapore many countries have their own native twist on it, whether it’s covered in sesame seeds, battered in tempura or finished with a dunk in aioli. But what is it that makes fried chicken so appealing to so many different cultures? Graihagh Jackson speaks to three fried chicken shop owners from South Korea, the UK and South Africa to find out how battered poultry has come to achieve such global dominance. They explain how different cultures like their birds fried, how competitive the industry can be, and go deep into the science behind the perfect bite. We also learn how hard it can be to convince customers that fried chicken should be viewed as a gourmet meal, and priced accordingly, rather than a cheap, unhealthy snack. And how important is it to source the best possible meat, without going bust? Plus, is the smell of a deep fat fryer any good for your love life? (Picture: A hand holding a piece of fried chicken. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
05/03/2027m 13s

Made in space

Why are companies blasting bottles of alcohol and crops into space? Are they just publicity stunts, or are there some serious scientific discoveries to be made? We explore the potential of space when it comes to producing food and drink - not for astronauts or the first settlers on Mars, but by developing crops that could be more productive and more resistant to climate change here on Earth. A NASA scientist tells Graihagh Jackson how microgravity on the International Space Station could be the key to unlocking the potential of many Earth crops, and a serial entrepreneur explains why he’s investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the idea in a bid to save Bordeaux wine. Plus, we find out how space science has already helped us grow indoor crops and develop more efficient and environmentally friendly fertilisers. (Picture: Planet Earth, composed by NASA images. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
27/02/2029m 41s

Why are people putting chemicals in our food?

Have you ever looked at the ingredients on your microwave meal and wondered what dextrose and sodium nitrite are doing in your dinner? These are some of the many chemicals used in processed foods - some are found in nature, but others can also be made in a laboratory. They’re used by food manufacturers for many reasons, from making sure rice doesn’t go mouldy, to ensuring yoghurt is low fat. But has the industry gone too far, adding too many synthetics to our food? Graihagh Jackson meets three food scientists to find out what they're adding to our food, and why. Does it matter whether we use 'natural' or synthetic substances, why are some added ingredients not listed on the label, and how do these scientists ensure they are safe? Plus, how do you bake cookies at 30,000 feet, and what does space smell like? (Picture: A scientist picking up a plant leaf. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
20/02/2026m 20s

Nobu Matsuhisa: My life in five dishes

Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has more than 40 restaurants spread across six continents, many of them frequented by some of the world’s top celebrities. His business partner and friend is Hollywood star Robert De Niro, and he’s even been in a handful of movies himself. Nobu, as he's known, is one of the most famous chefs in the world, but his early life and career were marked by tragedy and disaster – his father died in a motorcycle accident when he was eight, and one of his first restaurants burnt to the ground just weeks after opening, leaving him broke and contemplating suicide. But the sushi master eventually plucked up the courage to give the restaurant business one last shot, and his eponymous restaurant in Beverley Hills, California, was a huge success. He tells Graihagh Jackson the story of his life through five of his most memorable dishes, from the miso soup whose aroma would wake him most mornings as a child, to the dish that caught the attention of Robert De Niro and eventually catapulted him to global fame. (Picture: Nobu Matsuhisa. Credit: BBC)
13/02/2028m 46s

Why is wheat making people sick?

Gluten-free is booming – it’s become a multi-billion dollar industry, supermarket aisles are crammed with products, with a number of high-profile celebrities endorsing their health impacts. But this is much more than a fad diet - doctors are seeing a growing number of patients who have serious problems with this protein, most commonly found in wheat products like bread and pasta. And, an increasing number of these patients do not have coeliac disease - for a long time the adverse reaction most commonly associated with wheat. So what’s going on? Graihagh Jackson hears about an emerging condition called non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, which could be affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide, and meets the doctors fighting over how best to treat it. She asks why this condition is spreading so fast – could it be something to do with our modern lives and diets? And are wheat and gluten entirely to blame, or could there be dangers lurking in a whole range of other foods? (Picture: A woman's hand touching wheat in a field. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
06/02/2027m 25s

The tipping point

In some corners of the world tipping a waiter or waitress would be considered an insult. In other countries, the exact opposite is true. So why did these dramatically different cultures of gratuity evolve, and how difficult is it to change them? We speak to two restaurant owners on opposite sides of the world struggling to reverse tipping norms – one restaurateur in New York explains why he eventually had to abandon a ban on gratuity, and another in Shanghai describes how difficult it is to convince Chinese customers that they should pay extra. But is there any relationship between tips and service quality anyway? One academic who’s spent his life studying the custom has found it to be almost non-existent. So why do customers continue to tip? Apparently, it’s all down to guilt. (Picture: A waitress refusing a tip. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
30/01/2028m 0s

Fantasy, fiction and food

What do Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Lady and the Tramp have in common? Both use food in subtle ways to immerse us in their stories and help us make sense of fictitious worlds - from jumping chocolate frogs to kissing over spaghetti. The same is true for many novels, where food can be an integral part of building characters, plots, even entire worlds. Graihagh Jackson speaks to three world-acclaimed writers – two authors and one Nollywood script writer and film director - to find out how and why they employ food in their work. How do you create make-believe foods for a science fiction world, yet still imbue them with meanings that real world listeners will understand? When you’re trying to appeal to multiple audiences and cultures, how do you stop your food references getting lost in translation? And can food be used to highlight or send subtle messages about subjects that are traditionally seen as taboo? (Picture: Artistic depiction of a woman lying on top of an orange. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
23/01/2026m 19s

What's climate change doing to cows?

Australia's bushfires are thought to have killed more than one billion animals, and although many of the country's wild species have been worst affected thousands of livestock have also died, some of them buried in mass graves. The severe droughts that partly fuelled the flames have been affecting cattle in Australia for several years, destroying many of their grazing lands - a vital source of nutrition. There are also signs that the extreme heat in some parts of the country could even be making these animals infertile. Graihagh Jackson speaks to Gundula Rhoades, a livestock vet from New South Wales, to find out more. We also hear about the impact of climate change from two other farm vets. Edwin Chelule, from Nairobi, Kenya, says droughts there have been making dairy cows less productive, destroying families' livelihoods. And Emily Gascoigne, a sheep expert from the south west of England, tells us some disease patterns have been changing. All three work in an industry that's a big part of the climate change problem – livestock are responsible for almost 15 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions - so can they use their medical expertise and close relationship with farmers to bring change? (Picture: A farmer standing near the bones of a dead cow in a drought-affected paddock in New South Wales, Australia. Credit: Getty/BBC)
16/01/2026m 11s

Eat the year

New Year's resolutions about food often involve cutting down on something, or giving something up, but how about committing to trying something new for the next 12 months? How much harder is it, and what do we learn about ourselves along the way? Graihagh Jackson meets three women who went to extraordinary lengths in search of change: a working mum who cooked a different meal every day of the year to escape a cooking rut; a writer who made her own salt from seawater and learned how to butcher a sheep as part of a pledge to only eat non-processed foods; and a blogger who logged and photographed everything she ate for 365 days. We hear how difficult, expensive and exhausting the challenges were, but also how they brought each of these women closer to their families and friends, as well as their food. (Picture: A tree through four seasons. Credit: Getty/BBC)
02/01/2026m 9s

Samin Nosrat: My life in five dishes

The award-winning star of Netflix series 'Salt, Fat, Acid Heat' and author of the best-selling cookbook of the same name tells us about her life through five of her most memorable dishes. The Iranian-American writer and cook has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame in the last few years, but has struggled to come to terms with that success and says she still feels like an impostor and outsider. She very nearly took a completely different career path - she tells Emily Thomas that her dream was always to be a poet until a magical experience at a fine-dining restaurant changed everything. Even now, though, she doesn't aspire to run a restaurant or establish a culinary empire - she doesn't like the person she becomes when put in charge of a team of chefs. This episode was recorded at The Cookery School at Little Portland Street and was first broadcast on 30 May 2019. (Picture: Samin Nosrat. Credit: BBC)
26/12/1926m 29s

I hate Christmas pudding!

Does your stomach turn at the thought of a Christmas pudding? How about pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? Foods like these, commonly served at annual celebrations, are deeply ingrained in our cultures, but why, and how hard is it to reject them? We meet three people who dislike dishes that traditionally appear during festive or other holidays, and ask why they continue to serve them anyway: Ed Levine, a food writer and broadcaster from the US, explains his antipathy towards pumpkin pie; chef and restaurateur Emily Roux, daughter of Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr., tells us how she dodges Christmas pudding and turkey; and Al Pitcher, a comedian from Sweden, recalls his traumatic experience tasting one of the country's most famous national dishes - sour herring. Why can it be so hard to admit our dislike of these foods, and what’s the best way to banish them from our tables without upsetting family, friends or even entire nations? Thanks to Canal Digital Sweden for the extract from Al Pitcher's surströmming video. (Picture: An unhappy young boy looking at a Christmas pudding. Credit: Getty/BBC)
19/12/1926m 19s

Can chocolate be clean?

The bittersweet world of chocolate is complex - cocoa beans are produced by some of the poorest people on the planet and turned into chocolate for some of the richest, and the sweet stuff is haunted by child labour, slavery, trafficking and deforestation. But could the rise of artisan chocolatiers change this? We speak to three people who are putting traceability and sustainability at the heart of their chocolate businesses, and find out just how difficult that can be - still today, there is no guarantee your chocolate bar is free from the industry's ills. One of our entrepreneurs, in Ghana, tells us about her determination to put one of the world’s biggest cocoa producers on the chocolate map, and a chocolatier in Singapore explains why she gave up a career in banking to make chocolate bonbons. Plus, we ask whether consumers are willing to pay a relatively high price for bar that's been more ethically sourced. We also get up close with a cocoa pod, find out what 'bean to bar' really means, and discover the science behind how chocolate is actually made. (Picture: A chocolatier making a chocolate truffle. Credit: Getty/BBC)
12/12/1926m 5s

Sommeliers: Wine waiters uncorked

Sommeliers are to a restaurant’s wine what a head chef is to its food. These waiters taste and study thousands of bottles, and the best can even tell you exactly where a wine was grown and when its grapes were harvested, just with a sniff and a slurp. But to some they can seem part of a stuffy, exclusive and mysterious club. We meet three sommeliers from the USA, Sweden and London who are all trying to change that image and guide even the most clueless of customers through their wine lists. We hear how much wine they actually drink, how they deal with know-it-all customers and a master sommelier tells us how he passed one of the most difficult exams in the world. Plus, we put all of them to the ultimate blind taste test. (Picture: Cameron Dewar, Fernando Beteta and Emma Ziemann. Credit: Cameron Dewar, Fernando Beteta, Emma Ziemann, BBC)
05/12/1925m 56s

Marcus Samuelsson: My life in five dishes

Award-winning chef, restaurateur and writer Marcus Samuelsson describes his extraordinary culinary and personal journey from one of the world's poorest countries to Sweden and then to Harlem, New York. His life in five dishes takes us from his birthplace in Ethiopia, where his mother died when he was just a few years old, to his adoption by a couple in Sweden. He tells Emily Thomas how his adopted grandmother taught him about homemade locally-sourced food and installed a work ethic in the kitchen that he’s never lost. His sense of culinary adventure then took him through some of the top restaurants in Europe and on to the US, where he’s now opened a string of restaurants of his own, cooked President Obama’s first White House state dinner, published many books and become a regular feature on TV cooking programmes. He's also rediscovered the foods of his birthplace and tells us about the emotional moment he met the father he'd long assumed was dead. Marcus reveals how racism was a career obstacle, but that it also contributed to his success, and explains why his focus has changed from cooking for the one per cent, as he puts it, to a more democratic dining scene. (Picture: Marcus Samuelsson at Red Rooster Shoreditch. Credit: BBC)
28/11/1926m 27s

Can palm oil be sustainable?

It’s the world’s most consumed vegetable oil, used for everything from frying food to making it last longer – but can palm oil be produced in a way that doesn't wreak enormous environmental and human damage? In conjunction with another BBC World Service programme, Crowd Science, we visit the Sabah region of Malaysian Borneo, where different groups are working together to change the way palm oil is produced. Presenter Graihagh Jackson hears about a certification system aimed at raising standards on smallholders, reducing the industry’s impact on biodiversity, and boosting incomes. And she speaks to an organisation fighting for the rights of indigenous communities against land-hungry palm oil companies. Plus, what can consumers do to affect change in the industry? We hear how it's sometimes difficult to know whether products contain sustainable palm oil or not. For more on the steps being taken to lessen palm oil's environmental impact listen to Crowd Science: Should I stop eating palm oil? (Picture: A man harvesting palm oil. Credit Getty/BBC)
21/11/1932m 7s

Bakers: Earning a crust

Running a bakery is hard work - you’re up all night mixing, kneading, proving and baking, and then when the sun rises you need to actually sell your bread and run the business. It’s physically demanding too - repetitive strain injuries to hands are not uncommon. So who’d be willing to put themselves through it? Emily Thomas meets three artisan bakers from different continents to find out what drives them, and why they think most of us have been eating bread all wrong: Islam Sabry, who runs Cairo's Baker, in Egypt; Lee Utsumi, of Lee's Bread, just outside Tokyo, Japan; and Seth Gabrielse, co-owner of Automne Boulangerie in Montreal, Canada. Plus, what happens to your waistline when you're surrounded by freshly baked bread and pastries all day? (Picture: Islam Sabry, Seth Gabrielse and Lee Utsumi. Credit: Cairo's Baker, Automne Boulangerie, Lee's Bread, and BBC).
14/11/1926m 28s

Can you have your plate and eat it?

The food industry has a big problem with packaging, but what if you could simply eat your wrapper or coffee cup instead of throwing it away? Could packaging made from food ingredients prevent our oceans and landfill sites from being clogged with waste, much of it plastic? Could it still preserve and protect our food from damage or spoiling? And does it taste any good? Emily Thomas speaks to two companies developing edible products - one producing plates, cups and bowls, the other making a protective coating for fruit -to find out whether edible packaging is really a clever solution to some serious environmental problems, or just a marketing gimmick. And a food futurologist explains why we're all likely to see more food-based packaging on our supermarket shelves, and how that could change the way we eat and shop. (Picture: A woman pretending to eat a plate. Credit: Getty/BBC)
07/11/1926m 40s

How dangerous is your food delivery?

How dangerous is your takeaway? If you ever order food through an online delivery service like UberEats, DoorDash, or Deliveroo, you probably think only about the meal that will soon will arrive at your door - will it arrive quickly, and piping hot? You possibly don’t think much about the person delivering it, let alone whether they have put themselves at risk in getting it to you. These companies allow customers to order food from a range of restaurants, and then provide a delivery service - by assigning jobs to drivers who are usually self-employed. Across the world, their popularity is soaring. But one hidden aspect of their growth is the dangers faced by their growing legions of delivery drivers, from road accidents, to intimidation, to violence. The Food Chain has seen dozens of reports from all over the world, and spoken to numerous people who work with these companies, all suggesting that the safety of takeaway delivery drivers, needs closer scrutiny. Emily Thomas investigates what it is about food delivery in particular that can be so dangerous - and whether enough is being done to keep these drivers safe. Please note: This programme contains content that some may find disturbing. (Photo: Food delivery driver. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)
31/10/1926m 28s

Will robot pickers change our fruit?

Across the world, as fruits ripen, teams of pickers set out across the fields. Without them, produce would be left to rot and farms profits would plummet. But in many countries, population shifts and changes to immigration laws have left farmers struggling to find enough people to do the work. The effect has been particularly pronounced in the US where President Trump has cracked down on immigration, and the UK with its plans to leave the EU. Enter the robots. Over the past few years, interest and investment in machines that can pick fruit and vegetables that are usually harvested by humans, have been ramping up. Emily Thomas asks whether we should welcome these new developments. Picking fruit is low paid, low-skilled and physically demanding work, and exploitation in the industry is well-documented. But it’s also a source of income that many depend on, and the main source of employment in some parts of the world. Plus, if we do let machines do the job, what are the implications for the environment, and how our food looks and tastes? (Picture: Man reaches forward to pick an apple from a tree. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)
17/10/1926m 29s

How to date a vegan

How can you have a successful relationship with someone whose eating habits you find repulsive, infuriating, even morally abhorrent? What do you do when your wife and mother are locked in a fierce battle over what you eat, when your long term partner insists on eating sandwiches in bed, or when you’re in love with a vegan but like nothing better than a chicken teriyaki? As part of Crossing Divides, a BBC season bringing people together in a fragmented world, Emily Thomas meets three couples who are strongly divided when it comes to their food preferences, and asks them to divulge how they handle it. As economies develop and our eating habits become ever more individualised and with ever more choice, is food becoming the ultimate passion killer? And are arguments about food ever really just about food, or do they signify a deeper incompatibility? Plus, do couples that eat together stay together? And does it matter whether they are sharing the same dish? (Image: A woman and a man disagree about meat Image credit: Getty Images)
10/10/1926m 28s

How to cook for a megastar

What do the most famous names in film, sport and politics eat for dinner, and what does it say about who they really are? Three private chefs give us the ultimate insight into the lives of the rich and famous - after all, what's more exposing than what and how we choose to eat? Emily Thomas hears about the Premiership footballer who wanted to helicopter a chef to his home to make him and his girlfriend oven chips, the politician who had a romantic meal with not one, but three beautiful young women, and the Hollywood star who would only eat what she could squeeze into half of a small plastic cup. How do you even become a private chef, and how much money can you make? And what happens when the person you are cooking for is not someone you want to pander to - a politician whose policies you can’t abide, or a celebrity whose private behaviour makes you uncomfortable? Emily speaks to Charlotte Leventis, the London-based founder and executive chef of Extravaganza Food; Kwame Amfor, founder of Biishville, a Ghanaian catering company; and Kathleen Schaffer, the founder and creative director of Schaffer LA. Between them they’ve cooked for A-listers including Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Idris Elba, Eddie Murphy, David Beckham and Kate Beckinsale. (Picture: Kate Beckinsale, David Beckham and Idris Elba. Credit: Getty/BBC)
03/10/1926m 29s

Down on the farm: Suicide, stress and farmers

Farming has some of the highest suicide rates of any profession in many parts of the world. Emily Thomas explores why depression and stress amongst farmers is a global problem that is thought to be on the rise. It can be an incredibly tough business and many farmers struggle to make ends meet. But aside from financial pressures, are there other aspects of agricultural work and life that could contribute to mental illness? Farmers in Australia explain why social and physical isolation, along with a culture of stoicism and strength, could be contributing to the problem, especially amongst men. And a specialist in farm succession in the US state of Oregon explains why family pressures and the tricky business of inheritance can cause enormous stress, and even lead people to take their own lives. Plus, we hear how social media and criticism of farmers over climate change and animal welfare might be adding to the problem. But there are solutions - we hear how mindfulness, governments, and even farm animals themselves can be the key to escaping depression. For advice and support on the issues raised in this programme, and details of help available where you live, visit (Picture: A farmer looking out over his fields. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
26/09/1927m 40s

Ken Hom: My life in five dishes

Ken Hom is a Chinese-American cook who became famous for introducing Chinese cooking to the British public through a BBC TV series in the early 1980s. Since then he has written almost 40 books, sold around eight million woks, and become regarded as an authority on Chinese cuisine. Emily Thomas visits the 70-year-old in his Paris flat to hear about his life told through five memorable dishes. He describes his impoverished childhood in Chicago’s Chinatown, from using his mother’s packed lunches to barter for better treatment at school, to working in a kitchen as an 11-year-old – a job that would put him off the restaurant business for life. Ken describes the dishes only served to Americans in a 1960s Chinese restaurant, and re-enacts the nerve wracking screen test at the BBC 40 years ago, that was to change his life. Ken also explains what he thinks matters most in the food world today, why he has always kept his personal life, private, and how his early childhood experiences fed an entrepreneurial streak that would last his entire life. (Picture: Ken Hom. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)
19/09/1926m 29s

Eating with Etna

What’s it like to live and farm on one of the world’s most active volcanoes? Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, regularly erupts, blasting lava and ash over the Mediterranean island and causing dozens of earthquakes each year. So why do so many food producers stake their livelihoods on its rocky slopes? Benjamin Spencer, an American wine expert who has adopted Etna as his home, meets its wine, olive and fruit growers, as well as the chefs whose dishes take inspiration from the fiery mountain. They explain how millennia of lava flows have made the volcano’s soils rich in nutrients and that the volcano is a vital branding tool, but also how some eruptions have almost wiped out entire farms. Ben discovers that people’s desire to farm there, despite the risks, is part of an almost spiritual connection with the land and the mountain. (Picture: Mount Etna erupting. Credit: Antonio Parrinello/ReutersS/BBC)
12/09/1926m 28s

Foraging: Pleasure or profit?

Most of us have no need to hunt in the wild for our food, so why is foraging seeing a resurgence in some parts of the world? Emily Thomas speaks to professional foragers in Peru, Sweden and England to find out the appeal of combing rocky shores for seaweed or trekking up mountains for rare fruits. Is it the love of a freebie, the thrill of the chase, or simply a sense of wonder at our natural world? We hear about the rules governing what, where and how much you can harvest from the wild, and that the forager’s freedoms can be extensive. But as wild finds become increasingly visible on the menus of top restaurants and sometimes end up on our supermarket shelves, could natural habitats become threatened, and does something integral get lost when money changes hands? Producers: Marijke Peters and Simon Tulett. (Photo: John Wright picking seaweed. Credit: BBC)
05/09/1926m 29s

Ritual slaughter under threat

Belgium is the latest European country to put restrictions on religious slaughter methods. For many this is purely an animal welfare issue, but others see the changes as part of an anti-immigration shift pushed by right-wing nationalists. For some, the new laws are an assault on religious freedom. Emily Thomas visits the country to explore the impact the new laws are having on Muslim and Jewish communities and businesses, and to find out whether ritual slaughter practices are being driven underground. (Photo: Pair of hands hold a joint of meat. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)
29/08/1926m 28s

The young pub bosses reviving the British boozer

For decades we’ve been warned about the demise of the British pub, but despite this the number of young people signing up to run them appears to be rising. Pubs have been the cornerstone of UK communities for centuries, but around a quarter of them have closed in the last decade - taxes, cheap alcohol in supermarkets, and the smoking ban are often blamed. But that’s not putting off people in their twenties and thirties from taking them on. Emily Thomas is in the pub with three young publicans - Elliott Dickinson, Laura Field, and Liam Holyoak-Rackal, to find out why. Can they be in it for the money, or is it something else - what exactly is the lure of the traditional British pub? And how do you encourage more young people to drink in them, without losing the customers who’ve been propping up the bar for decades? (Photo left-to-right: Elliott Dickinson, Liam Holyoak-Rackal and Laura Field. Credit: BBC)
22/08/1926m 28s


What’s it like to have food in your blood? Would you want to spend all day working with your family, even if it was in a brewery or a chocolate factory? Emily Thomas meets the descendants of three dynasties to find out how well work and family really mix when it comes to the food business. Kayo Yoshida, the first female president of Japanese sake brewery Umenoyado explains how she broke with tradition when she asked her father if she could inherit the family business instead of her brother. Bob Unanue, the boss of the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the US – Goya Foods – explains how important family values, and in particular his immigrant heritage, are to his company’s bottom line. Plus, James Cadbury, of the famous UK chocolate dynasty, explains why he formed his own chocolate company three years ago but dares not put his family name on it. (Picture: A family portrait with cans replacing heads. Credit: BBC/Getty Images)
15/08/1926m 28s

Blogs! Money! Power!

Social media hasn’t killed off the food blog apparently. Emily Thomas meets three food writers from three continents, who reveal their power and influence over what and how we eat. How much money do they make and how does social media fit with their business model? Have they disrupted the publishing industry and democratised food writing, or lowered standards - opening it up to any old amateur with a laptop? What’s a popular Instagram account worth, and does anyone really have the time for long posts these days? David Lebovitz, a Californian pastry chef and writer based in Paris is joined by Dunni Obata, a Nigerian food blogger in London, and Monika Manchanda, in Bangalore, India. (Photo: David Lebovitz and Dunni Obata. Credit: BBC/ David Lebovitz/ Dunni Obata)
08/08/1926m 27s

Food under siege

If access to a city is blocked food supplies can quickly plummet, electricity and water can become scarce, and people can be forced to find new ways to feed themselves. Black markets thrive and some may risk their lives to feed their families, but creativity and compassion may also flourish and a food shortage can inspire ever greater heights of inventiveness. Emily Thomas meets people who have lived under siege in Aleppo, Syria, and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. A journalist reveals how it feels to feast in a cafe in the middle of a city where most are struggling to eat, and an electrician explains why feeding cats in the middle of a war-zone felt like a message of compassion and resistance. We also hear about the Palestinians living under the blockade of the Gaza strip. A cook explains how to run a catering company when electricity, water and some ingredients are scarce. This programme was originally broadcast on August 1 but has since been re-edited to provide more context about the Gaza blockade and to distinguish this more clearly from conditions in Aleppo and Sarajevo. (Photo: A group of men share a meal on the street in war-torn Syria. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)
01/08/1926m 55s

Baristas: The daily grind

What is the person making your coffee secretly thinking about you? Which orders make their heart sink? Emily Thomas is joined by three top baristas in Dublin, Brazil and India. They explain how making coffee was once seen as a low-wage, unskilled job in much of the world, but these days, it holds a certain cache. But what's driving the meteoric rise of the barista - and who ultimately is benefitting? Most still earn a very low wage - like many of the farmers producing the coffee - whilst big chains thrive. (Photo: Barista Daniel Horbat makes a cup of coffee. Credit: Kristaps Selga/ World Coffee Events/ BBC)
25/07/1926m 28s

Angela Hartnett: My life in five dishes

Angela Hartnett is one of the UK's most high profile chefs. She tells Emily Thomas about her life through five memorable dishes, from learning to cook with her Italian grandmother, to being awarded a Michelin star just four months after opening her first restaurant. Plus, she explains what it was like working alongside the notoriously fiery Gordon Ramsay for 17 years. (Photo: Angela Hartnett. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)
18/07/1926m 28s

The pig plague

A deadly and highly contagious disease is sweeping across Asia, killing millions of pigs and destroying the livelihoods of millions of farming families. African Swine Fever is not harmful to humans, but it kills infected pigs in just a few days and there is no known cure. The virus has taken hold in the world’s most densely populated pig farming region, spreading from China – home to half of the world’s pigs – to Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia, Laos and North Korea in the last year. So can it be stopped, and if so how? Gareth Barlow speaks to three people on the front line of the fight against the disease - the woman tasked by the United Nations to eradicate it, a major food business in Thailand trying to keep it at bay, and the man who eliminated the disease from Spain more than 20 years ago. We ask whether African Swine Fever could mean the end of small-scale pig farming in Asia, and find out how it could forever change food cultures and cuisines in a region so dominated by pork. (Picture: Health officials spraying disinfectant on a dead pig at a farm in Hanoi, Vietnam. Credit: Manan Vatsayana/AFP/Getty Images)
11/07/1926m 28s

When is a burger not a burger?

Vegetarian and vegan food companies are under attack for using words like ‘burger', ‘sausage’, or ‘steak’ to describe their meat-free products. The meat industry and some politicians argue such words can only be used to describe foods that came from an animal and that plant-based alternatives should come up with new names to avoid consumer confusion. But can you really claim ownership of a word? And what’s in a name anyway – is this argument about transparency and trust or marketing and profits? Willem Van Weede, CEO of Dutch plant-based food company Vivera argues the case with Jess Peterson, senior policy adviser at the US Cattlemen’s Association, which represents the beef industry. Plus, language expert Carrie Gillon tells us the real origins of the word 'meat' and suggests some new names for plant-based alternatives.
04/07/1926m 28s

The quest for black gold

How powerful can a steaming pile of rotting food be? One third of the world’s food is lost or wasted, greenhouse emissions are warming our planet, and about a third of the world’s soil is degraded. Composting our food waste can help with all of this. But does it make economic sense and does it deserve it’s moniker ‘black gold’? Emily Thomas meets people in the compost business to ask whether composting at scale will ever turn a profit without government money. And why, if compost is so good for the land, are farmers still so reluctant to use it? For the compost business to thrive, people need to separate their food waste - but how can they be persuaded to do so? We hear from Seoul in South Korea, where the solution lies in a talking bin, and from Colombo in Sri Lanka, where a failure to address the problem has had devastating consequences. (Picture: Plants growing in a pile of compost. Credit: Getty Images)
27/06/1926m 28s

How not to run a restaurant

It’s a dream shared by many a food lover - a restaurant of their very own. A showcase for their skill and creativity. A passion that also pays the bills. But are aspiring restaurateurs always aware of just how difficult the restaurant trade can be? Is food is the most dangerous passion to have when it comes to business? Emily Thomas meets three cooks in Abuja, Toronto, and London, and hears how they poured heart, soul and bank balance into opening their own restaurants - before packing it all in. These stories show just how tough the business can be. (Picture: Woman rests on chair. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)
20/06/1930m 17s

Lunches changing lives

Millions of children in India risk being deprived of a good education because of hunger. Poverty means they often go to school on an empty stomach, making it hard for them to concentrate, and malnutrition can mean they don’t even make it to the classroom – they either cannot face the journey or need to work to buy food for their families. But over the last 20 years Akshaya Patra has been trying to change that by ensuring almost two million children get a free school meal each day. The organisation is the world’s largest school lunch programme and it has been chosen as the winner of the The Food Chain’s Global Champion Award 2019. In this episode we visit one of its giant kitchens in Bangalore to find out what it takes to feed that many students, and we hear from teachers and children about the impact it’s having. Plus we hear one remarkable story about how a simple meal changed a child’s life, and speak to the organisation’s boss about his plans to scale up even further. (Picture: School children eating lunch. Credit: Akshaya Patra)
13/06/1926m 28s

Finding a food champion: The finalists

The world faces a daunting challenge - how to feed a growing population without harming the planet, our economies, or our health. With a billion people still going hungry, obesity and diabetes on the rise, and warnings of a climate change emergency, how can we change our food system for the better? Emily Thomas meets four remarkable people and projects trying to meet that challenge, from cheap and nutritious meals aimed at increasing school attendance in Kenya to campaigns cutting out millions of tonnes of food waste. They were all nominated by our World Service audience to win The Food Chain’s Global Champion Award, which recognises people changing the way we deal with our food for the better. Our international panel of judges, headed by the writer, cook and Netflix star Samin Nosrat, considered entries from all over the globe. This week we meet the inspiring shortlist. (Picture: [clockwise from top left] A farmer and CGIAR scientist in Nepal; Richard Swannell, development director at WRAP; Lucy May, co-founder of The Organic Cookery School; and Wawira Njiru, founder of Food4Education. Credit: CGIAR; WRAP; Lucy May; Wawira Njiru.)
06/06/1926m 30s

Samin Nosrat: My life in five dishes

The award-winning star of Netflix series 'Salt, Fat, Acid Heat' and author of the best-selling cookbook of the same name tells us about her life through five of her most memorable dishes. The Iranian-American writer and cook has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame in the last few years, but has struggled to come to terms with that success and says she still feels like an impostor and outsider. She very nearly took a completely different career path - she tells Emily Thomas that her dream was always to be a poet until a magical experience at a fine-dining restaurant changed everything. Even now, though, she doesn't aspire to run a restaurant or establish a culinary empire - she doesn't like the person she becomes when put in charge of a team of chefs. This episode was recorded at The Cookery School at Little Portland Street. (Picture: Samin Nosrat. Credit: BBC)
30/05/1926m 28s

Bitter sweets

Could candy be the next target in the global fight against rising levels of obesity and diabetes? Dozens of governments have already imposed taxes on sugary drinks, and now some are considering doing the same with sweets. So how worried are confectionery companies and what can they do about it? How do you replace or even reduce candy’s key component, and can you do so without causing upset? We hear how consumers don’t take kindly to their favourite treats being messed with, even when they taste the same. Plus, could the war on sugar provide an opportunity for manufacturers to develop sweets with more of a medicinal role? Simon Tulett speaks to three firms: Nestle; Parle Products in India; and Turkish Delight specialist Haci Bekir in Istanbul. (Picture: A smashed lollipop. Credit: Getty Images)
23/05/1926m 28s

Food on the streets: London and Los Angeles

How do you eat when you have no home? Nowhere to store food, nowhere to cook, no table to eat at? In this episode we are with homeless people in two of the world’s most prosperous cities - London and Los Angeles - to talk about how they feed themselves. This is a tale of two cities - a surprising story perhaps of the abundance of food in the most deprived parts of society. What does it tell us about our global food supply chain? (Photo: Homeless man looks out on LA and London streets. Credit: BBC/Getty Images)
16/05/1926m 28s

Organic Inc

At heart, the organic movement is driven by ethics, not market-forces. It started out as a reaction to large-scale industrial agriculture, with an anti-establishment vibe which abhorred mass produced, processed food. But, as demand for organic products has grown, big business has moved in, and now accounts for an increasing amount of the market. Big Food has money and clout. It can support farmers to transition to organic, and throw its weight behind marketing the virtues of organic methods and food. But whilst its products might be organic on paper, has it truly embraced the spirit of the movement, and does that matter? Emily Thomas talks to three organic farmers who are uneasy about 'Big Organic', and General Mills, one of the largest food producers in the US. (Image: Composite image of a chicken standing in a suitcase. Credit: Getty)
09/05/1926m 29s

Widowed: Food after loss

In the second of two James Beard Award-winning episodes on food and grief, Emily Thomas explores the food experiences of the widowed. In parts of the world where widowhood is seen as a source of shame, widows might be excluded from mealtimes, forbidden from eating nourishing food, and even forced to take part in degrading eating rituals. And even in some of the world's most developed countries, where widowhood elicits sympathy rather than suspicion, the bereaved are still more likely to suffer nutritional deprivation than those who are still married. No matter where we are in the world, when we’re grieving, we need the nourishment and comfort that food can provide more than ever. But losing the person we eat with most can make mealtimes hard to face, and this can devastate our physical and mental well-being. We hear from widowers and widows about how they managed to find joy in food again. (Photo: Single chair at an empty table. Credit: Getty Images).
02/05/1926m 29s

Raw grief

Emily Thomas explores how food can help us navigate through the darkest of times - the days, weeks, and even years following the death of someone we loved. In times of loss, should we use food to remember the dead or to reconnect with them? A neurologist explains the science behind grief and appetite, and people who've been recently bereaved talk about the foods and eating rituals that have helped them through it. This programme won the James Beard Award for Best Radio Show in 2019. It was first broadcast in September 2018. (Photo: A raw onion. Credit: Getty Images)
25/04/1926m 29s

The pot washers

Do you know who’s washing your dishes? Emily Thomas talks to pot washers from around the world, about what they love and loathe about life at the sink. A kitchen can’t survive without the pot washer, yet we rarely give them a second thought, lavishing all our attention instead on the chefs. But maybe we should. Being a pot washer, dishwasher or kitchen porter as it’s variably known, can be the first rung on the restaurant ladder, and many a great chef started out with a scourer in hand. But the job also attracts those who have very limited opportunities in life, and this means they may be more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. (Photo: Man scrubbing a kitchen sink. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)
18/04/1926m 28s

An inspector calls

Restaurateurs with guns, chefs wielding knives, and severed heads in bin bags. Life as a food inspector is a lot more fraught than you might think. Emily Thomas meets three food safety officers from around the globe who reveal what it’s like to be one of the most feared people in the industry. They have the power to close a restaurant. Some can even make arrests. No wonder they’ve got some stories that seem to belong more in a mafia film than a food show. And the danger doesn’t end there. It’s not just their lives at risk – but yours too. We hear about some of the unsavoury things that happen to our food behind kitchen doors - and the sneaky tactics used to conceal them. (Photo: A rat peers into a cup. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)
11/04/1926m 28s

How to tell a food story

What happens when food meets fiction? In this programme from the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, presenter Emily Thomas is joined by a panel of guests and an audience to find out how poems, plays and novels can help us better understand our food, and also how food can be used as a narrative device. Poet and novelist Ben Okri, farmer and author Suzanna Crampton, and playwright and former script-writer for BBC radio drama The Archers, Graham Harvey, share some of their work. How do they balance food, fact and fiction in a world awash with misinformation? This is a shorter version of the episode 'How to tell a food story' broadcast on 31 March 2019. (Picture composite: Ben Okri, Suzanna Crampton and Graham Harvey. Credit: Roberto Ricciuti, Getty Images, Martha Faye and BBC)
04/04/1944m 55s

Gut feelings

There are trillions of bacteria living in our guts and there's growing evidence that they can have a major impact on our mental well-being. So could we soon see a food supplement that can treat depression? The science behind this so-called gut-brain axis and whether we can manipulate it isn't yet conclusive, but there are plenty of believers. We speak to a woman who says her irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety disappeared after she started taking kefir, a fermented milk drink. She was so convinced by its impact that she now runs a south London business making and selling it. There are already food supplements out there targeting anxiety and depression, but are they getting ahead of the science? We speak to one of the major probiotics manufacturers and hear from a leading scientist who says unproven product claims could be dangerous for mental health patients and that they shouldn't be seen as a silver bullet. Plus, how human are we really? We find out just how many strings our microbes are pulling. (Image: Head outline with food representing the brain. Credit: Getty Images)
28/03/1926m 28s

When breast isn't best

Breastfeeding is highly recommended for babies the world over and in many countries it's seen as a mother's duty. No wonder, then, that women who cannot or choose not to breastfeed can feel ashamed, inadequate, or even irresponsible. But it turns out that these women are actually the majority. According to figures from the World Health Organisation only 41 per cent of babies are exclusively breastfed for their first 6 months. Two mothers tell us what they put themselves through to try to exclusively breastfeed their children and what finally drove them to throw in the towel, and another mum explains why she never even started. They tell us whether they were supported or vilified by friends, family and health professionals, and what their breastfeeding struggles did to their self-esteem. Plus, we ask whether exclusive breastfeeding is the preserve of the world’s wealthier classes, and whether it’s possible for mums to earn a living without turning to the bottle. (Picture: A child drinking a bottle of milk. Credit: Getty Images)
21/03/1926m 28s

How to feed the Falklands

How does a tiny community living on a series of rugged, windswept islands in the south west Atlantic Ocean manage to eat a varied diet? The Falkland Islands have more sheep than people, and its waters are teaming with squid, but fresh fruit and vegetables are very hard to come by. And when it does arrive, almost all of it by sea, it’s not at all cheap – a pineapple, for example, can cost up to $20. But there are efforts to change that - food writer and chef Gerard Baker meets the islanders trying to be more self-sufficient and championing their own produce. This is a rebroadcast of an episode of The Food Programme that first aired on BBC Radio 4 in January 2019. (Image: Farm building on a remote shore on the Falkland Islands Image Credit: Bruce Wilson Photography/Getty Images)
14/03/1926m 28s

When foods get famous

Why do some fruits and vegetables achieve superstar status, appearing on T-shirts worn by celebrities, or in tattoos adorning some of the biggest names in music? Who is behind the rise of avocados and kale, and who benefits most from their A-list status - savvy farmers, slick marketeers or health campaigners? Emily Thomas explores whether fruit and vegetables should play the fame game: Is putting a single food on a pedestal good for consumers, producers, or the planet? Jess Loyer, from the University of Adelaide, and Lauren Westmore, from London PR firm Third City explain the potential pitfalls. Xavier Equihua, CEO of the World Avocado Organization explains how he promotes the fruit across the globe. And a small-town T-shirt maker, Bo Muller-Moore, reveals how he may have contributed to the rise and rise of kale. Plus, why is it so much easier to create a buzz around one vegetable than an entire food group? Anna Taylor from UK healthy eating think-tank The Food Foundation, describes her uphill battle against public attitudes and the enormous advertising budgets of Big Food. (Photo: Avocado being photographed. Credit: BBC)
28/02/1926m 28s

A senseless generation?

Are processed foods and urbanisation numbing children’s sensory abilities, and should we teach them to smell, touch, taste and even listen to their food to improve their diets and self-awareness? Emily Thomas meets three people from different parts of the world who work in ‘sensory food education’, which encourages children to explore all aspects of a food. They want young people to be taught these skills in schools, but is this really a job for teachers rather than parents? And could sensory food education really be as important as numeracy and literacy? Our guests this week are Stina Algotson, president of Sapere International in Sweden; Dr Nicholas Wilkinson, co-founder of Flavour School in the UK; and Srimathi Kannan, a sensory food educator at the University of Michigan in the US. (Photo: Infant smelling banana. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)
21/02/1926m 28s

Untold food stories: Rohingya and Uighur cuisine

The Rohingya people in Myanmar and the Uighur people in China are familiar to many of us through news reports. And usually their story is told by journalists in sombre voices reporting on the political situation or alleged human rights abuses. But in this episode, Rohingas and Uighurs themselves will tell us another story - about their cuisine. Because when you are far from home, feel your culture is under threat and you can’t get hold of the people you love the most on the phone, food can be a lifeline. Emily Thomas meets Mukaddes Yadikar and her husband Ablikim Rahman, who have opened a Uighur restaurant in London, and Rehana Zafa Ahmed and Abdul Jabbar-Amanula, a young Rohingya couple living in Chicago. They explain why their food is so important to them, and how the unique cultures that make their political situations precarious have also led to rich culinary traditions. (Picture: Mukaddes Yadikar pulling noodles. Credit: BBC)
14/02/1926m 29s

High Stakes Cakes

What drives people to stake their livelihood on sponge? Three cake makers discuss the pressure and privilege of creating show-stopping centrepieces for major celebrations. From a perfect replica of a cow to a cake hanging from the ceiling, they reveal the engineering and money that go into some of the most formidable bakes. Emily Thomas meets Claire Ptak, owner of Violet Cakes, who made the cake at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, Pardeep Gill from Sweet Hollywood which specialises in wedding cakes for the Asian community in the UK, and Asha Batenga Jumba from Cakely Uganda in Kampala. Plus, we’ll hear some toe-curling stories of baking disasters. (Composite image: Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery icing the wedding cake of Britain's Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle, Credit: Getty Images; Pardeep Gill standing with large wedding cake, Credit: Sweet Hollywood; Asha Batenga icing a cake; Credit: Cakely Uganda).
07/02/1926m 28s

André Cointreau: My life in five dishes

André Cointreau had a very privileged start in life, born into two illustrious French drinks dynasties - Cointreau and Rémy Martin. But his decision to buy a food business didn't go down well with the whole family. Unperturbed, he went on to become the chief executive of Le Cordon Bleu, transforming a small Parisian cookery school into a global culinary empire that has trained some of the world's most famous chefs. In this episode he tells Emily Thomas about his life through five memorable dishes. But despite his company teaching the virtues of classic French cooking techniques there's not a single soufflé to be seen. Instead he takes us all over the rest of the world, from Australian kangaroo meat to Korean kimchi. Find out what André Cointreau says about Le Cordon Bleu’s eye-watering fees, and why he never gets his hands dirty in the kitchen. (Picture: André Cointreau. Credit: BBC)
31/01/1926m 29s

Uncut: Butchers Talk Chop

Carving up carcasses and slicing up flesh. Day in, day out. Doling out blood for pet leeches, and helpings of animals brains. What drives people to do it? And why do they see themselves as animal lovers, and therapists? Emily Thomas meets three butchers from Limerick, Lagos and Brooklyn to find out what it’s really like to be a butcher. Why is the trade disparaged in some parts of the world? And why in others has it become ‘trendy’ to leave an office job to join the trade? We hear how business might be affected by changing patterns of meat consumption, the popularity of veganism and the dominance of the supermarkets. And are they worried that robots might take their jobs? (Photo: Brent Young carving up meat. Credit: BBC)
24/01/1927m 35s

Is Product Placement Getting in Your Face?

When a cool character cracks open a can of a well-known branded drink on screen, do you barely notice or roll your eyes? Whatever your reaction, their choices may well be influencing yours. Food is a powerful narrative device in film and product placement is highly lucrative. Put the two together and show business becomes big business for the food industry. Emily Thomas finds out how the product placement of food in film has changed over time and where it’s headed, as new technology makes it ever easier for audiences to avoid traditional forms of advertising. She meets industry insiders from Hollywood in the US, Bollywood in India, and Nollywood in Nigeria, to explore how food product placement changes across the globe, and asks how it can enhance and detract from the authenticity of film. What comes first, the brand or the integrity of the script? What happens when they clash? And how much money is at stake? Plus, we ask how the prolific use of product placement in Hollywood changed global perceptions of American food; how it affects our diet choices and... do baddies ever get to eat brands? (Photo: Cinema screen shows superhero character eating burger. Credit: BBC)
17/01/1926m 28s

The New Food Bank Frontline

Giving away unwanted food to people who need it, sounds like it should be easy. But in this episode we find it throws up some peculiar challenges. What do you do with 12,000 cakes, or vast amounts of unwanted crocodile meat? Over the past few years food banks have been opening up in places they have never been seen before, from some of the world’s richest cities to its poorest slums. But are they always the best approach to feeding the hungry? Three people who run food banks in Singapore, Nigeria and England join Emily Thomas to divulge the challenges of the job, from dealing with the stigma, to tackling corruption, or finding a home for rabbit food. (Photo: Hand reaching towards row of tins. Credit: Getty images/ BBC).
10/01/1927m 31s

After Party: A Look Back

Find out what happens after the show ends. Emily Thomas catches up with some people who’ve appeared on The Food Chain over the past 12 months and hears about the unexpected things that can happen after you step off our stage. Propping up the bar with her is an experimental archaeologist who said she’d happily taste food thousands of years past its 'use by' date. Did she do something she probably shouldn't have in a historical food vault in Italy? Joining them - the man whose appearance on the show may have changed the way you eat jam on a plane, and the woman who told us one of the saddest stories we heard this year, who reveals a new joy. And when all that's over, we revisit the least savoury place The Food Chain has set foot in this year - the kill floor of an abattoir. But this time, we’re taking you, the listener, with us. (Photo: Lindsay Ostrom, Farrell Monaco and Adam Smith. Credit: Lindsay Ostrom/ Farrell Monaco/ Adam Smith/ BBC)
27/12/1826m 28s

Taking the Buzz out of Coffee

A former-coffee lover goes on the hunt for a decent cup without the buzz, and discovers why it's so hard to get flavour without a fix. Emily Thomas delves into the complex art of caffeine extraction and discovers that taste is not the only challenge when it comes to taking the bounce out of a bean. The environmental and economic costs of decaf coffee soon add up, meaning a cup may carry a higher carbon footprint and be made with cheaper beans than the full-blooded stuff. Could a caffeine free coffee plant hold all the answers? A botanist explains why finding a suitable candidate is an unpalatable challenge. Or are we being over sensitive? A scientist explains why some of us react badly to caffeine, whereas others can fall into a slumber after two espressos. (Photo: Cup of coffee with drop suspended above it. Credit: BBC)
13/12/1826m 29s

Can a Strong Drink Revive a City?

Does bourbon have the strength to reinvigorate a whole city? And is it really wise to seek answers at the bottom of a barrel? Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon and its history is richly steeped in the drink. But now its largest city, Louisville, has decided the future should rest on it too. Could ‘bourbonism’ revive the city? According to Louisville's mayor, tourism based on the amber liquor is ‘shooting through the roof’. But, for many, alcohol is a gateway into other forms of addiction, and Kentucky is already facing a drugs epidemic. Alcohol-induced death rates in Louisville are higher than state and national figures. In this episode, journalist Phil Reevell explores the emergence of ‘bourbonism’ through the city’s food and music scene. He joins the ‘bourbon trail’ which attracted 1.4 million people last year. As the coal industry has turned to dust, large areas of the city have been deindustrialised, but Phil finds there are plans for the construction of more than 20 hotels, and that some tourists will pay hundreds of dollars for a bottle - or more. (Photo: Giant bourbon bottle looms over cityscape of Louisville, Kentucky. Credit: Getty Images).
06/12/1827m 6s

Why the Heat about Meat?

Why do we get so angry when we talk about food? When conversation turns to meat in particular, it doesn’t take long for debate to become heated and emotive. Voices get louder. Insults are hurled. Death threats are issued. Earlier this month, a group of UK scientists suggested a tax on red and processed meat would save thousands of lives. The discussion that followed quickly changed from being scientific and factual, to personal. It’s not the first food debate to have turned ugly - and in this episode Emily Thomas sets out to ask why. What is it about meat that gets us so mad? How are conversations around what we eat manipulated for political and personal gain? And if we understood more about science, would debate around diet be less vulnerable to hijack? Contributors: Dr Marco Springmann, researcher at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food; Chris Snowden, head of Lifestyle Economics at The Institute of Economic Affairs; Dr Catherine Happer, Lecturer in Sociology at Glasgow University; and Sarah Boseley, Health Editor of The Guardian. (Picture: Sausage on fork, Credit: BBC)
29/11/1826m 28s

Million Dollar Mouths

Who gets to decide what our food tastes like - and what gives them the authority to do so? Emily Thomas meets three people who are employed by the food industry to choose how processed food should taste. One of them has had his tongue insured for over one million dollars. All of them can identify complex flavour combinations with a single bite. They even speak in their own language...sometimes. So what’s it like to have such an enhanced sense of flavour? When you can smell someone else's meal in a restaurant from several tables away, is it a blessing or a curse? Do meals shared with ‘normal’ people ever become too prosaic to bear? And how can all of us learn to perceive more flavour in our food? Sebastian Michaelis drops by for a carefully curated cup of tea. He’s a master tea taster for Tata Global Beverages in London. The company considers its tasters so important that they are asked not to ever be on the same plane. Later we’re joined by Sarah Masoni, who has been said to have ‘a million dollar palate’. She is Product and Process Development Director at the Food Innovation Center of Oregon State University. She discusses the flavour trade with Danny Kite, who has been a ‘flavourist’ for almost half a century. He works at TasteTech, a 'flavour house' which manufactures flavourings and ingredients for the global food industry. (Photo: A man sips tea from a spoon. Credit: BBC)
22/11/1826m 29s

Inside the Abattoir

This episode includes audio of the slaughter of farm animals, which some may find upsetting. But if you happily eat meat, should you be willing to listen along as cows become beef? Would you be happy to witness it? And what might change if you did? Emily Thomas visits Tideford Abattoir, a slaughterhouse in the south of England to get an uncomfortably close up view of animals becoming food. As our food supply becomes ever more global and industrial, many of us have become distanced from the origins of what we eat. And nowhere, perhaps is this more pronounced, than with animals. Most of the meat we buy bears little resemblance to the breathing, thinking creature it once was. Across the world, slaughterhouses, or abattoirs, have long stayed in the shadows, inviting little public scrutiny. But as consumers demand a more transparent food chain, could we be heading towards a more open approach to slaughter? And how would this change our attitudes to meat? (Photo: Slaughterman with cow carcass. Credit: BBC)
15/11/1826m 28s

Behind the (Food) Scenes

Three top food stylists - all of whom have ghost-written and cooked on behalf of the world’s top chefs - step out from behind the scenes. More often than not, when it comes to food in the media, a lot of what you are seeing, and reading is the work - not of a top chef - but a food stylist. ‘Home economists’ as they are also known, do everything from cooking the dishes you see on screen, to ghost-writing whole cookery books, with all kinds of weird and wonderful food tasks in between. They churn out hundreds of recipes without breaking a sweat, but get none of the credit, staying firmly in the shadows of the kitchen. Until now. Move over Jamie and Gordon, it’s time to meet your supporting cast. Emily Thomas talks to Rob Allison, Nicole Herft and Abi Fawcett. Between them they’ve worked for most of the world’s best known chefs including Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson and Heston Blumenthal. (Photo: Chef garnishing soup with tweezers. Credit: Getty Images)
08/11/1826m 28s

I Took on the Food Industry

A powerful colossus is controlling most of what we eat. Who has the guts to take it on? Emily Thomas meets three people who have gone up against the food industry. From following trucks across Thailand to expose slavery in the fishing industry, to going undercover in Europe to reveal the hidden ingredients in processed food, to finding their phones have been infiltrated by spyware, these are people prepared to take risks. They talk about what it feels like to have such a powerful opponent, why they’re prepared to go to such lengths, and how the consumer needs to be vigilant. Our guests are Joanna Blythman, journalist and author, Alejandro Calvillo, director of El Poder del Consumidor, a consumer rights organisation in Mexico, and Margie Mason, investigative reporter for The Associated Press. (Photo: Man carved out of orange peel. Credit: Getty Images)
01/11/1826m 27s

I'm with the chef

If you think you’d like your other half to be able to cook like a Michelin-starred chef, this episode might make you think again. When a professional cook is at the top of their game, there might just be someone at home, picking up the pieces of a brutal schedule. Emily Thomas sits down with three people who are in long-term relationships with successful chefs and restaurateurs. They lift the lid on what it’s really like to live your life alongside someone in a profession notorious for being intensely stressful, competitive and sometimes a little wild. Can top chefs be bothered to cook when they get home? And how do they respond to criticism in the kitchen? Behind every head chef there’s a great woman or man, it seems. And this episode has three of them: PR executive Samantha Wong, partner of Hong Kong chef and restaurateur May Chow; sculptor Beth Cullen-Kerridge, who is married to Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge; and engineer Gundeep Gill who is married to Indian restaurateur Romy Gill MBE. (Photo: A couple kiss behind a heart shaped balloon. Credit: Getty Images)
25/10/1826m 28s

Aristocrats and Archaeo-Food Nerds

Have you ever felt the urge to share exactly the same culinary experience as your ancestors? Do you care what ancient Roman bread tasted like? Or what a 16th Century courtier smelt as he lifted a slice of roast beef to his mouth? Would you understand yourself, or today’s food system, better if you did? And if the closest you come to experiencing the past is watching period dramas on television, are you bothered by whether the pigeon is actually chicken - or the fish, cream cheese? How real do we want the imaginary to be? Emily Thomas asks what we can learn about the past and present from the painstaking reconstruction of old recipes. Four people who dedicate their lives to recreating historical dishes make their case: An archaeologist tirelessly trying to uncover the secrets of the bread of Pompeii in Italy; The food stylist on the film set of the globally popular period drama Downton Abbey; An historian earnestly roasting beef at a Tudor palace; and a Polish chef desperately trying to preserve traditions he fears are becoming lost. (Photo: Woman in a baroque wig, Credit: Getty Images)
18/10/1826m 29s

Not Just a Rich White Woman’s Problem

Emily Thomas explores a stereotype with potentially life-threatening consequences - the idea that eating disorders are a problem that only affects white women in wealthy countries. She talks to black women in South Africa, Nigeria and the US who have had eating disorders. Their experiences and their cultural backgrounds are very different, but they all say the prevailing stereotype that eating disorders are a ‘white’ problem, makes it harder for black women to speak out and get the help they need. They also challenge the notion that these illnesses are caused by the pursuit of western beauty ideals. (Picture: Young woman. Credit: Getty Images)
11/10/1826m 28s

Unseen: The Rise of Eating Disorders in China

From diet pills to vomit rooms, the Food Chain investigates the rise of eating disorders in China. Is this an inevitable consequence of economic development? And if so, why are eating disorders still all too often seen as a rich white woman’s problem?’ In the first of two episodes to explore the rising prevalence of eating disorders outside of the western world, Emily Thomas speaks to women with the illness in China and Hong Kong, who explain how hard it is to access support for binge-eating disorder, bulimia and anorexia, because of attitudes to food and weight, taboos around mental health, and a lack of treatment options. They describe the pressure on women to be ‘small’ and ‘diminutive’, but still take part in the country’s deeply entrenched eating culture. A psychiatrist working in China’s only closed ward for eating disorders blames an abundance of food in the country, parental attitudes and the competitiveness of Chinese society. She also warns of the dangers of the uncontrolled diet pill industry. From there we delve into the sinister world of ‘vomit bars’ with a social media analyst. We also explore the link between the rise of eating disorders and economic development. Does there need to be an abundance of food in a society before these problems develop? If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues in this programme, please see the links to resources at the bottom of this page. (Photo: Woman behind glass. Credit: Getty Images)
04/10/1826m 28s

Restaurant Critics: The Ungarnished Truth

Emily Thomas brings together a straight-talking crowd who are not afraid to ruffle a few feathers - even when they belong to the world’s most successful restaurateurs and chefs. Three restaurant critics from across the globe don't hold back as they swap notes on the job, reveal the tricks of the trade, and divulge how they really feel after writing a scathing review. Do they ever get sick and tired of eating out? And are their friends afraid to invite them over for dinner? Plus, we hear how the role of the critic differs between countries, and how it might change in the future. And we find out how our reviewers feel about increasingly being under the spotlight, as an online world allows any of us to leave a review, and to critique the critics. Fay Maschler of the London Evening Standard meets Besha Rodell of the New York Times and Rasmi Uday Singh of The Times of India. (Picture: A woman cover her face with a menu, Credit: Getty Images)
27/09/1826m 28s

Going Off Cow's Milk?

Emily Thomas asks whether we’re on a slow but steady path to abandoning our pervasive, long-standing, and arguably slightly peculiar habit of drinking milk from cows. In many European countries and the US, alternative plant-based milks are growing in popularity, and cow's milk sales are declining. Is this just a blip in our millenia-old love affair with dairy, or a steady drip towards a cow's milk-free future? Three guests debate the potential effects on global poverty, the environment and our health. (Photo: Brown cow. Credit: Getty Images)
20/09/1826m 29s

Widowed: Food After Loss

In the second of two episodes on food and grief, Emily Thomas explores the food experiences of the widowed. In parts of the world where widowhood is seen as a source of shame, widows might be excluded from mealtimes, forbidden from eating nourishing food, and even forced to take part in degrading eating rituals. And even in some of the world's most developed countries where widowhood elicits sympathy rather than suspicion, the bereaved are still more likely to suffer nutritional deprivation than those who are still married. No matter where we are in the world, when we’re grieving, we need the nourishment and comfort that food, can provide more than ever. But losing the person we eat with most can make mealtimes hard to face, and this can devastate our physical and mental well-being. We hear from widowers and widows about how they managed to find joy in food again. (Photo: Single chair at an empty table. Credit: Getty Images).
13/09/1826m 29s

Raw grief

In the first of two episodes on food and grief, Emily Thomas explores how food can help us navigate through the darkest of times - the days, weeks, and even years following the death of someone we loved. In times of loss, should we use food to remember the dead or to reconnect with them? A neurologist explains the science behind grief and appetite, and people who've been recently bereaved talk about the foods and eating rituals that have helped them through it. (Photo: A raw onion. Credit: Getty Images)
06/09/1826m 28s

Rethinking the Celebrity Chef

Emily Thomas asks whether the curious phenomenon of the celebrity chef, is undergoing a metamorphosis. The modern celebrity chef has their finger in a lot of pies - multiple restaurant chains, merchandise, cookery books, TV programmes, even campaigning and charity work - oh, and then there’s that Michelin star to hang on to as well. A number of chefs now have fortunes running into hundreds of millions of dollars. The breadth of their expanding empires is something that the renowned chefs of 30 years ago couldn't have even imagined. In this episode we’re asking whether we’ll see further mission creep. As home cooks increasingly look online to culinary amateurs with blogs and online videos, where does that leave the ‘celebrity chef’? Will we see them carve out new spaces in the public eye, adding even more skills to their ever-expanding portfolios: Chefs for president? And will we see more chefs from outside the US and UK achieve global dominance? We’ll also ask whether we should embrace the chef as a multi-dimensional superstar - or is all this taking us further from food, with the possibility that we’re missing out on culinary geniuses who don’t shout loudly enough? (Picture: Man in chef whites throwing flour in the air, Credit: Getty Images)
29/08/1826m 33s

The Invisible Ingredient

We’re killing time on The Food Chain this week. From crops that grow in just eight weeks, to whole meals that can sit on the shelf at room temperature for three years, at every stage of our food chain it seems, humans are battling against the clock, in the name of convenience, money or science. Emily Thomas asks what we lose in our attempt to eliminate this invisible ingredient. (Picture: Hand holding invisible object, Credit: Getty Images)
22/08/1826m 33s

José Andrés: My life in five dishes

Meet the Michelin-starred chef who, when he hears word of a natural disaster, jumps on a plane to get there, rolls up his sleeves, and mobilises thousands to feed the hungry. José Andrés is the winner of our 2018 Global Food Champion Award. He is a man with many strings to his bow: Michelin-starred chef, TV personality, educator, serial entrepreneur, author, but it is his humanitarian work and ability to mobilise others in times of need that really won our judges over, after being nominated by our listeners. Emily Thomas talks to him about the dishes that have defined his life so far, how he managed to make 3.4 million meals for Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the valuable lessons he learnt from stealing his mother’s béchamel out of the fridge, and why he thinks a humble cook stove has the answer to many of the world’s problems today. (Picture: José Andrés cooking in Puerto Rico, Credit: Central World Kitchen)
15/08/1826m 29s

Kelis: My life in five dishes

We sit down with one of R&B’s most eccentric and compelling artists, Kelis. Over the past 20 years she has produced era-defining hits like Milkshake, Caught Out There and Trick Me, and sold millions of records. So why did she decide to step away from the mic and into the chef's whites at the Cordon Bleu academy? Kelis tells Emily Thomas all about her passion for food and her latest plans to open a farm-to-table restaurant. We hear how she has struggled to make the culinary world take her seriously, and why she thinks it’s ‘all about the sauce’. This programme was first broadcast on the 24th May 2018. (Photo: Kelis. Credit: James Watkins/BBC)
08/08/1826m 35s

Claudia Roden: My life in five dishes

The Food Chain listens back to My Life in Five Dishes with the renowned Egyptian cookery writer Claudia Roden - originally broadcast in January 2018. Claudia has been credited with revolutionising western attitudes to Middle Eastern and Jewish food. She tells Emily Thomas about her journey from a comfortable childhood in Cairo to exile in 1950s Britain. She explains how a longing for home led her to painstakingly collect recipes from across the Middle East, and how she turned them into classic cookbooks that have inspired generations of chefs. Find out what she makes of today's culinary scene, and the best way to get honey off a spoon. (Photo: Claudia Roden. Credit: Jamie Lau)
02/08/1826m 29s

Gordon Ramsay: My life in five dishes

The Food Chain listens back to My Life in Five Dishes with chef and broadcaster Gordon Ramsay, originally broadcast in January 2018. Gordon is world-famous, but as he tells Emily Thomas, people no longer want to talk about his food. The celebrity has becomes known as much for his TV programmes displaying his fiery temper and explosive outbursts, as for his culinary skills. In this interview, the focus is firmly back on the food, as Gordon describes the five most unforgettable meals he’s ever eaten, and how they have shaped him as a chef – from his mother’s macaroni and cheese on a council estate in the West Midlands, to smuggled cheese soufflés at Le Gavroche. Gordon's dishes are: Mum's Mac and Cheese with smoked bacon; soufflé Suissesse at Le Gavroche; braised pigs' trotters with cabbage at Casa Del Pescatore near Verona; rum baba at Le Louis XV; and his own chickpea curry. (Photo: Gordon Ramsay. Credit: Laura Palmer/BBC)
26/07/1826m 29s

Antonio Carluccio: My life in five dishes

Antonio Carluccio describes his most memorable dishes in his last ever interview. The cook, restaurateur and writer, known as the 'Godfather of Italian cooking', died five days after this recording was made, aged 80. He tells Emily Thomas about his passion for simple, authentic Italian cuisine, and why he only began to pursue it professionally relatively late in life. He describes his horror at 1970s Britain's version of Italian food, his obsession with mushrooms, and reveals how much the late opera singer Luciano Pavarotti could devour in one sitting. Plus, hear about his struggles with fame and heartache, the tensions that came with expanding his eponymous chain of restaurants and delis, and the dish he would choose as his last. This interview was first broadcast on 16 November 2017. (Picture: Antonio Carluccio. Credit: Getty Images)
19/07/1826m 29s

Madhur Jaffrey: My life in five dishes

Join us for five unforgettable dishes from one extraordinary life as the food writer and actress Madhur Jaffrey reveals some rather surprising mealtimes - from a swimming lesson with a watermelon, to a dinner disaster with jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie. The food writer and award-winning actress has written more than 15 cookbooks, many of them bestsellers, and has been credited with changing the way people outside India think about the country’s food. She joins Emily Thomas to talk about the meals that have shaped her remarkable career. This episode was first broadcast on 17 October 2017. (Photo: Madhur Jaffrey. Credit: Manny Carabel/WireImage via Getty Images)
12/07/1826m 28s

Jeremiah Tower: My life in five dishes

Meet the pioneering, opinionated and inscrutable Jeremiah Tower, one of the most controversial figures in modern American cuisine. Emily Thomas hears about his extraordinary childhood in grand hotels and on ocean liners with only haute cuisine for company; how he helped bring about a food revolution in Berkeley, California that would become the 'New American cuisine'; and why, after years of celebrity in San Francisco, he mysteriously disappeared from the culinary scene for over a decade. Jeremiah is widely seen as the first modern-day celebrity chef, and he doesn't hold back when explaining exactly what he thinks of the biggest names in food today. (Picture: Jeremiah Tower. Credit: Gary Gershoff/WireImage via Getty Images)
04/07/1826m 29s

#MeToo Food

Has the #MeToo movement permeated our food chain? Emily Thomas explores the hidden problem of sexual harassment and abuse in our fisheries and fields, and hears how agriculture is all too often a dangerous occupation for the women who labour in its unseen corners. We hear from women who have seen this first hand, from the vineyards of South Africa, to shrimp farms in Bangladesh, to tomato pickers in Mexico. What will it take for agriculture to have its own #MeToo moment? (Photo: Young rural woman carries freshly cut grass for to feed her family’s livestock. Credit: Getty Images).
28/06/1826m 29s

The Real Junk Food

This is the story of a man who struggled with homelessness and addiction, before being hit by a bold vision of ending food waste and world hunger. The Real Junk Food Project uses the food thrown away by homes and businesses to feed those who can't afford to eat. It has saved 3,500 tonnes of food from landfill or animal feed in the last four years by redistributing it to the hungry through cafes, shops and warehouses. The project's success and potential for growth led to it being selected as runner-up in this year's BBC World Service Global Food Champion award. Emily Thomas meets the project's founder, Adam Smith, and hears how he experienced homelessness, drug addiction, and mental health problems before embarking on this remarkable project of environmental protection and social improvement. Plus, learn how to push the limits of lasagne, as the volunteers and customers at one of the Real Junk Food project's cafes in the northwest of England, explain how the project has changed their attitudes to food ... and bingo. (Picture: A bunch of over-ripe bananas. Credit: Getty Images)
21/06/1826m 38s

Pony Tales

Should we eat more horse meat? In some parts of the world it is a food taboo, while in others people think little of munching an equine burger. Would it be better for our health and that of the planet if we ate more of it? We’re at a pony auction in the English countryside where some rather hairy creatures are going for a song. Could turning them into sausages and steak be the best way to add value? From there we travel to Paris to find out why the French are losing their taste for horse meat, we find out if it could be more sustainable and healthier than beef, and examine the roots of the world's horse meat taboos. Presenter: Emily Thomas This programme first aired in October 2017 (Picture: Exmoor Pony. Credit: Getty Images)
06/06/1827m 48s

I am the Bread Man

Dan Saladino meets the mastermind behind one of biggest bread research projects ever undertaken. Nathan Myhrvold spent four years researching, baking and collaborating with leading industry professionals to write Modernist Bread - a five-volume, global exploration of this great staple. It follows another hugely ambitious food project -Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking – from 2011. Perhaps it is no surprise then that Nathan Myhrvold has spent his life trying to understand how things work, he researched quantum theory with the late Stephen Hawking and went on to work directly with Bill Gates at Microsoft. So what pearls of wisdom can the man who baked 36,000 loaves share? This is a rebroadcast of an episode of the Food Programme that first aired on BBC Radio 4 in March 2018. (Photo: Man claps hands with flour by dough, Credit: Getty Images)
30/05/1826m 59s

Kelis: My life in five dishes

We sit down with one of R&B’s most eccentric and compelling artists - singer-songwriter Kelis. Over the past 20 years she has produced era-defining hits like Milkshake, Caught Out There and Trick Me, and sold millions of records. So why did she decide to step away from the mic and into the chefs' whites at the Cordon Bleu academy? Kelis tells Emily Thomas all about her passion for food and her latest plans to open a farm-to-table restaurant. We hear how she has struggled to make the culinary world take her seriously and why she thinks it’s ‘all about the sauce’. (Photo: Kelis, Credit: BBC)
24/05/1826m 29s

Critical Mass Catering

In a nod to the British royal wedding, we are super-sizing the Food Chain this week as we explore cooking on a grand scale. Emily Thomas visits a Sikh temple to see how volunteers serve up to a thousand free meals per day without even breaking a sweat. A professional caterer breaks down the economics of mass catering for us. Plus, a foodie chemist gives us his take on mass cooking on a molecular level. And we may or may not be speaking to the man in charge of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding menu. (Picture: Quirky and colourful tiered cake Credit: Getty Images)
16/05/1826m 29s

Absolute Food: Part II

Food is propaganda in this episode of The Food Chain. In the second part of our two week exploration into the relationship between political power and what we eat, we’re asking how food can be used by authoritarian regimes and extremist groups to influence and persuade. A food writer will take us on an officially-approved tour of North Korea. And Emily Thomas meets a man who spent ten days living - and eating with fighters from the Islamic State group. (Photo: Hand reaching out a megaphone. Credit: Getty Images).
09/05/1826m 37s

Absolute Food: Part I

How do authoritarian regimes use food to control and manipulate? In the first of two episodes exploring food and power, we find out how changes to the global economy mean food policy under dictatorships could soon look quite different. Plus, how do you write about food when there isn't any? Emily Thomas talks to a Venezuelan food writer who says her country's food story speaks volumes about the political situation, and explains why she continues to blog about restaurants, despite hunger being rife. In a country where people are afraid to say what they think, we hear why food writing can mean freedom. (Picture: Red hand pointing upwards with clenched fists, Credit: Getty Images)
03/05/1826m 29s

Fussy Old World

The fussy toddler refuses to eat her vegetables, has a tantrum and throws the food on the floor in protest. It’s a familiar scene that haunts parents the world over… or does it? And what, if anything, has economics got to do with it? This week The Food Chain takes a global look at 'fussy eating', and finds out about different cultural expectations and solutions. Emily Thomas talks to a psychologist, a sociologist and a behavioural geneticist to debate the phenomenon, and parents in Beijing, Nairobi, Kolkata and London share their tactics. (Picture: Baby making a mess eating, Credit: Getty Images)
26/04/1826m 36s

Claudia Roden: My Life in Five Dishes

We meet the woman who’s been credited with revolutionising western attitudes to Middle Eastern and Jewish food. Claudia Roden talks to Emily Thomas about her life through five dishes, from a comfortable childhood in Cairo to exile in 1950s Britain. She explains how a longing for home led her to painstakingly collect recipes from across the Middle East, and how she turned them into classic cookbooks that have inspired generations of chefs. Plus, we hear Claudia's unique perspective on today's culinary scene and a top tip on how to get honey off a spoon. (Photo: Claudia Roden standing in front of one of her paintings. Credit: BBC)
20/04/1826m 29s

Food Confidential

Trade secrets are jealously guarded by the food industry – and confidentiality is becoming ever more important. The Food Chain is on a mission to find out why. Emily Thomas explores the best way is to protect a secret recipe, and finds out just how hard that is to do when thousands, even millions of people, have tried the dish. Plus, a so-called 'food hacker' recreates one of the world’s most iconic secret recipes, and a nose around a chocolate factory reveals the secrecy behind a good truffle. This programme was first broadcast on 15 March 2018. (Picture: Security camera on building, Credit: Getty Images)
11/04/1827m 0s

Eating Blockchain

*This is a repeat of a programme that first aired on 22nd February 2018 Blockchain technology has been heralded as the answer to a safer, fairer and more transparent food system. Many companies, from global food giants to start-ups, have begun to experiment with it. But can blockchain really disrupt the global food industry or is it just a gimmick? Emily Thomas meets some pioneers of this new technology, who explain why they think it will change the way we eat. (Picture: Light from broken egg, Credit: Getty Images)
04/04/1827m 11s

A Poisonous Business

Food poisoning meets economics in this episode of the Food Chain. And it's a toxic mix. We'll explore how an outbreak can bring down a company, badly damage an industry and shine a light on social and economic inequalities and our globalising food system. Emily Thomas talks to a top food poisoning lawyer in the US, who has won more than $600 million for clients in foodborne-illness cases. And a former banker explains why a dodgy sandwich inspired him to quit his day job for the cause. Plus, how do you prove where you got food poisoning from and what can you do to avoid it? (Picture: Skull and coins, Credit: Getty Images)
29/03/1826m 48s

Do Not Feed the Animals

Food waste can have a huge impact on some wild animals, changing their diets and behaviours, and often bringing them into closer contact with humans. From sea birds to grizzly bears, we hear how this can create serious ecological imbalances, and often lead to conflict. Plus, we find out that our efforts to reduce food waste could have unintended, even devastating consequences, for both animals and people. But it’s not all bad news - we hear the remarkable story of what happens when our scraps sustain one of the fiercest predators on earth. Presenter: Simon Tulett (Photo: A brown bear. Credit: Getty Images)
22/03/1827m 0s

This Food Will Save Your Life*

Why are humans so vulnerable to big promises about food? Emily Thomas meets some people who became convinced salvation lay in what they ate, and a neurologist who explains why food can make us lose our powers of critical thinking. Plus, the story of a woman who fooled hundreds of thousands of people - as well as vast corporations - into believing she’d cured brain cancer with her diet. *This is not a programme about a food that will save your life. (Picture: Black pot. Credit: Getty Images)
07/03/1827m 15s

Eat, Stay, Love

Three women who fled the countries they were born in because of war or conflict tell us how food helped them rebuild their lives, explore family secrets, and reconnect with their cultures. Their experiences are very different, but they all share a yearning to regain what they have lost through food. Emily Thomas talks to Razan Alsous, a Syrian refugee who has built a successful cheese business in the north of England; Cambodian-American Nite Yun who has used her cooking business to understand the family history that her parents never spoke of; and Mandana Moghaddam who runs Persian cooking lessons in London, having fled Iran with her family after the revolution. (Photo: Barbed wire heart. Credit: Getty Images)
01/03/1826m 52s

The New Animals

The world’s first genetically engineered animal for human consumption landed on Canadian dinner tables last year. Its arrival did not go by without controversy. Emily Thomas meets the company who created the fast-growing salmon and asks why it took the best part of thirty years for it to make its slow swim from laboratory to plate. Plus, we gauge reaction from consumers and scientists and get to the heart of an emotive and controversial debate that has been raging for decades: Is genetic engineering a distraction from addressing the real issues of animal welfare and economic inequality in the food system? What are the risks, and is the public ready for it? (Picture: Cow on the horizon, Credit: Getty Images)
15/02/1826m 50s

The Pig Problem

A deadly and highly contagious disease is spreading across Europe's pig farms. African Swine Fever Virus doesn't harm humans, but once it infects domestic and wild pigs almost all of them die through internal bleeding within days. More than a million pigs are thought to have died as a result of the latest outbreak, devastating hundreds of farms and damaging exports. It's the first time the virus has ever hit Europe's pig farming heartland. With a vaccine still years off, and amid fears the disease could reach as far as China, we ask if the virus can be stopped, and how. Emily Thomas meets people who think the answer lies in building fences between countries, genetically engineering pigs, and even calling in the army to hunt down disease-spreading wild boar. (Picture: A pig in a sty. Credit: Getty Images)
08/02/1826m 14s

The Food Pilgrims

Can you think of a food you would travel across continents for? Emily Thomas meets people who have gone to extreme lengths for one special meal or ingredient. From a writer searching for a fruit in West Africa to better understand his ancestors, to a curry-lover who chartered a plane to deliver his favourite Indian takeaway. What is the difference between a food pilgrim and a food tourist, and what dangers might culinary travel bring? Plus, what happens when an entire country decides no distance is too great for its favourite fish? (Photo: Man with backpack looking into distance. Credit: Getty Images)
01/02/1826m 58s

I Can't Taste!

If you could not taste your food, what would you eat? Would you even want to? Taste disorders are rare, but they can have devastating impacts on people's lives. They can also tell us a lot about our food. Emily Thomas meets a cookery writer who says she wanted to die after a car accident robbed her of taste. But as the sense slowly returned she became a more experimental cook. And a man who has not been able to taste anything for five years, explains how it has changed his social life, and how he has found innovative ways to enjoy his food. Plus, we hear calls for more research to develop treatments for these disorders, and how taste could be key in the early diagnosis of dementia. (Photo: A hand holding a black apple. Credit: Getty Images)
25/01/1826m 58s

Gordon Ramsay: My life in five dishes

Chef Gordon Ramsay is world-famous but, he tells us, people no longer want to talk about his food. The celebrity has become known as much for his cookery programmes, his fiery temper and explosive outbursts, as for his culinary skills. This week, the focus is back on the food, as Gordon speaks to Emily Thomas about the five most memorable meals he has ever had and how they have shaped him as a chef - from his mother’s macaroni and cheese on a council estate in the West Midlands, to smuggled cheese soufflés at Le Gavroche. Gordon's dishes are: Mum's Mac and Cheese with smoked bacon; soufflé Suissesse at Le Gavroche; braised pigs' trotters with cabbage at Casa Del Pescatore near Verona; rum baba at Le Louis XV; and his own chickpea curry. (Photo: Gordon Ramsay. Credit: BBC/Getty Images)
18/01/1826m 44s

In Search of Wine's 'Holy Grail'

Wine has been getting more and more alcoholic in recent decades, driven by consumer tastes and climate change. This has big implications not only for public health, but also the quality of the bottle. But making a lower alcohol wine that is still full of flavour is extremely complicated, especially when growing grapes in rising temperatures – some have called it the profession’s Holy Grail. Emily Thomas meets those trying to solve the puzzle: a Chilean vineyard owner; a climate change and grape variety academic; and an Australian scientist whose raspberry-flavoured Chardonnay could hold the key. (Picture: Wine cellar. Credit: Getty Images)
11/01/1827m 3s

The Comedy of Food

Does food ever make you laugh out loud? We try to stand up the theory that food is getting funnier because modern diets make it a richer sauce of comedy. Comedy about food seems to have moved a long way from oddly shaped vegetables and Charlie Chaplin slipping on a banana skin, to something more nuanced. Now we seem to be laughing at the way we eat - with ever more comedy acts, TV programmes and YouTube videos poking fun at diet trends, restaurant customs and cookery shows. Has the way we eat become so obsessive and complicated - that food has quite literally become a laughing stock? Emily Thomas meets comedians JP Sears, Tats Nkonzo and Alex Thomopoulos, and comedy expert Delia Chiaro to explore the comedy potential of food. You know, just for laughs. (Photo: A king feasting alone in a banquet hall. Credit: Getty Images)
04/01/1827m 1s

Big Tech Wants Your Food Shop

Technology giants are gobbling up the online grocery market - and over the past year we’ve seen Amazon and Alibaba getting their teeth into bricks and mortar too. But do they want to transform the supermarket experience, or is this about harvesting even more consumer data? And what will all of this mean for farmers, your pocket, and the quality and sustainability of your food? Emily Thomas discusses with Brittain Ladd, a strategy, supply chain and logistics expert who formerly worked for Amazon leading worldwide expansion for Amazon Fresh, Pantry and Groceries; Scott Marlow, senior policy specialist for Rural Advancement Foundation International, a non-profit organization based in North Carolina supporting family farms; and Amanda Long, Director General of Consumers International, which works to empower and champion the rights of consumers. Plus, we visit Farmdrop, a London-based startup which aims to give customers a more ethical online shopping experience. (Photo: a picture of the hand of a young man holding an ice lolly against a pink background. Credit: Getty Images)
28/12/1726m 28s

Food Chain: The Quiz 2017

Have you ever wondered what to do with a watermelon outside the kitchen? Or how many hot dogs a person can eat in 10 minutes? It's time to find out with The Food Chain Quiz 2017. Get ready for some strange but wonderful food stories and play along with our two teams: chef Cyrus Todiwala and La Fromagerie founder Patricia Michelson versus food historian Marc Meltonville and Ghanaian food writer and TV cook Fafa Gilbert. Emily Thomas hosts this challenging and at times bizarre battle for the coveted wooden spoon. Rounds include: What Happens Next? What’s this Sound? And back by popular demand …. The Lucky Dip. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
21/12/1726m 29s

How to Make a Farmer

Fancy a career change? If you're not doing it already, what would it take to make you a farmer? Would smart technology, matchmaking websites or reality TV do it? In our second episode to explore the problem of the world’s ageing agricultural workers Emily Thomas hears about some innovative and surprising attempts to re-brand farming. Is education or technology the answer, does farming need a re-brand, OR is it just too hard for most farmers to make a living - and does the global food system itself need to change? It matters - if the farmers die out, where will you get your food in the future? (Picture: Young farm girl. Credit: Getty Images)
14/12/1726m 56s

I Won't Farm!

The average age of farmers globally is thought to be around 60, and rising. So where have all the young farmers gone and who is going to farm our food in the future? It’s an issue that could affect every single one us and the food we eat. Emily Thomas meets families in Kenya, the UK and the Netherlands to find out how farmer’s sons and daughters really feel about taking over the family business. How much of a role do economics, regulations, lifestyle and public perceptions play in driving them from agriculture? This is the first of two episodes to explore why so many young people across the globe are turning away from farming, and what can be done to tempt them back. (Photo: Young woman standing in an empty ploughed field. Credit: Getty Images)
07/12/1727m 58s

Where's my African Takeaway?

Why have so few African cuisines made it onto the world’s culinary stage? Whether it's Michelin stars, popular restaurant chains, or even takeaways and street food, the continent’s gastronomy isn’t anywhere near as prominent as Chinese, Italian or Indian in many parts of the globe. Emily Thomas talks to chefs from Nigeria, Senegal and Eritrea to hear what they think is holding their food back from achieving global prominence - is it economics, culture or taste? And what can be done about it? (Photo: Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam displays his food in New York City. Credit: Getty Images)
30/11/1727m 50s

The 'Disneyland' of Food?

We're in Bologna, Italy as FICO Eataly World opens its doors to a curious public. Its mission is to educate people about Italian food, and attract 6 million tourists a year. But is a shopping mall really the best way for the Italians to reclaim the authenticity of their food? Italian food is known and loved across the world, but much of what is consumed doesn't actually come from Italy. Could what some are calling 'the Disneyland of food', be the answer to increasing understanding and boosting exports? Emily Thomas takes a trip around the park, speaks to the people behind the project, and visits local producers in Bologna. (Photo: Chef with pasta. Credit: Getty Images)
23/11/1726m 29s

The Boundless Ambition of Gum

Chewing gum seems to be on a mission to reinvent itself. There’s little we’re told it can’t do these days - prevent tooth decay, cure hangovers, even improve our vision. As sales of gum flat line, we explore it's ability to take on new guises, and meet people who even believe it can be used to detect cancer and help end malnutrition. Could chewing gum save your life? An expert on food regulation explains why the majority of gums with health claims are rejected, and presenter Emily Thomas meets a man who tried to solve one of gum’s stickiest and costliest problems. Plus we'll ask whether we should we stop working so hard to find a purpose for this food we can't swallow, and find other, more environmentally-friendly solutions? (Photo: Girl with chewing gum. Credit: Getty Images)
09/11/1726m 29s

Contain Yourself!

Does your favourite drink taste better from a bottle, cup or can? Are foods enhanced by particular plates, or packaging? Or is it all in your head? Emily Thomas is joined by materials specialist Ellie Doney and food psychologist Charles Spence to find out exactly how the containers we eat and drink from can change the way food tastes. From British fish and chips wrapped in yesterday’s news to clay tea cups in Kolkata and a pot unwashed for decades, we explore some traditional serving methods and find out why we may be discarding more than we think when we throw them away. (Photo: Woman in large cup of coffee. Credit: Getty Images)
02/11/1726m 29s

Competitive Eating: Chewing it Over

What happens to your body when you eat 70 hot dogs in 10 minutes, and why would thousands of people watch you do it? We’re exploring the curious appeal of competitive eating, and its impact on our stomachs, minds and society around us. What does the popularity of eating competitions tell us about our changing relationship with food? And why do humans appear to have such an appetite for watching other people regurgitate it? In the second episode to explore the curious appeal of competitive eating, presenter Emily Thomas gives it a go, and speaks to a doctor about the potential risks. We find out what goes on inside the body of a speed eater and just how big their stomachs get. Is it nature or nurture that allows people to consume such vast quantities of food? We also hear from a man who says competitive eating helped him get over anorexia nervosa, and find out what a psychiatrist thinks. Competitive eating can be dangerous, especially outside of a controlled environment, so please do not try this at home.
19/10/1726m 59s

Competitive Eating: The 'Gurgitators'

We speak to some of the world's most successful competitive eaters and find out how, and why, they do it. In the first of two episodes on the so-called sport, four ‘gurgitators’ tell us what it takes to eat the most hot dogs, corncobs or burgers in the shortest possible time. This is not something you should try at home. Emily Thomas speaks to one of the industry's biggest names, Takeru Kobayashi, a man credited with revolutionising competitive eating and turning it into a sport. We hear from New Yorker Yasir Salem, who combines speed-eating with triathlons and marathons, and Londoner Kate Ovens tells us how she is making a career from posting videos of eating challenges online, attracting thousands of fans in the process. (Photo: Hand holding burger. Credit: Getty Images)
12/10/1727m 12s

Madhur Jaffrey: My Life in Five Dishes

Join us for five unforgettable dishes from one extraordinary life as the food writer and actress Madhur Jaffrey reveals some rather surprising mealtimes - from a swimming lesson with a watermelon, to a dinner disaster with jazz legend, Dizzy Gillespie. The food writer and award-winning actress has written more than 15 cookbooks, many of them bestsellers, and has been credited with changing the way people outside India think about the country’s food. She joins the BBC's Emily Thomas to talk about the meals that have shaped her remarkable career. (Photo: Madhur Jaffrey. Credit: Penguin Books)
05/10/1726m 57s

A Fly Future?

We're in South Africa again to find out whether fly larvae could help humans eat more meat and fish. As the global population expands, traditional feed sources such as fishmeal, soya and grains, could put increasing pressure on the environment, depleting oceans and reducing biodiversity. Alternative protein sources based on insects are being developed by a number of companies across the world. In this episode we explore whether they are as effective as traditional feeds, and how big the industry is likely to get. Plus, might maggots be able to ease the world’s landfill problems too? Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Black soldier fly. Credit: Getty images).
28/09/1727m 38s

The Maggot Masters

This week we’re in South Africa, picking up great big squirming handfuls of maggots. Could these unpalatable little creatures hold the answer to some big questions – what to do about the huge amount of waste going into landfill, and how to meet the world’s growing demand for a sustainable supply of farmed fish, pigs and poultry? A company called Agriprotein thinks its fly farm is the solution. They've just won The Food Chain’s first Global Champion Award - which recognises innovative ideas that could have a longstanding impact on the way we produce or consume food. The Food Chain's Emily Thomas gets up close to their armada of over 9 billion flies in the first of two episodes to explore the potential of using insects as a protein source for animal and fish feed.
21/09/1727m 2s

Cow Candy

Why do farmers feed their cows sweets? What are the implications for the animals’ health, the environment and the taste of our meat? From the mystery of a rural US highway covered in Skittles, to chocolate-flavoured steak selling for hundreds of dollars, we explore the impact of feeding cows the byproducts of human food production. Plus, we take our own bag of treats onto the farm and discover cows have rather expensive tastes. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Picture: A cow eating a chocolate bar.)
14/09/1727m 0s

Finding a Food Champion

Meet the people determined to revolutionise what and how we eat as we launch our first ever international award. We hear about the four shortlisted projects hoping to be named The Food Chain Global Champion, including an insect-based cooking oil, a beekeeper empowering women in northern India, a maggot-based animal feed, and a global movement seeking to transform food and agriculture. We’ll also hear form our international panel of judges on their reasons for shortlisting the final four, and a slam poet’s verdict in verse. The Food Chain Global Food Champion Award recognises a person or project whose work in the economics, science, or culture of food has (or has the potential to have), a global impact on how we produce, process, consume or think about food and drink. The winner will be revealed later this month. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Sahida Begum inspects her bees in the Araku valley, in the in the northern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Credit: Sahida Begum.)
07/09/1727m 15s

The Art of Fermentation

For 20 years Sandor Katz has been fascinated by fermentation - the breaking down of food and drink by microbes. Through his books and workshops he has helped thousands of people begin to experiment with flavours, fruits, vegetables, spices... and microorganisms. Dan Saladino travels to Sandor's forest home in rural Tennessee to meet Sandor, hear his story, and discover for himself the transformative potential of this culinary process. Producer: Rich Ward
31/08/1726m 49s

Upper Crust?

What does your choice of loaf say about you? Is your sourdough a source of pride? Have you ever felt ashamed of your sliced white? Flour, water, and salt - over thousands of years the basic recipe for bread has changed very little. But often there's been a dollop of judgement thrown in too. From Plato to modern-day Cairo, in this episode we’re talking about the ever-changing relationship between bread and social class. How have certain types of loaf come to have different moral and social meanings? And, can bread divide a society? Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Loaf of bread. Credit: Getty Images)
24/08/1727m 8s

Is Social Media Putting You Off Your Lunch?

Are you the kind of person who can’t help taking a picture of your food before you eat it? Do you search out Facebook foods, Twitter tips and Instagram ideas for new restaurants and recipes? Or maybe the very thought of all this puts you off your lunch. This week we meet foodies, writers and experts to discuss where education ends and obsession begins. The BBC’s Manuela Saragosa talks to: Adaobi Okonkwo, who blogs about food under the name Dobby in Lagos; and Anna Barnett, who is a blogger, contributor to Vogue and Grazia, and author of cookery book “Eat The Week”. She also speaks to Ursula Philpot, registered dietitian and senior lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University; and Eve Turow Paul, a millennial food expert and writer. (Photo: Woman takes picture of food on phone. Credit: Getty Images).
17/08/1728m 51s

Stockpiles? What Stockpiles?

We’re on the hunt for the world’s biggest stashes of food. Can the food system handle a big shock, or is it time to stock up on your supplies? In last week’s episode we met people doing just that - stockpiling food in anticipation of anything from a major natural disaster, to the apocalypse. They had little faith that their governments would be able to keep the food supply under control in extreme circumstances. This week we set out to test their assumptions. From forgotten World War Two food sheds to Switzerland’s stockpiling sirens, which companies and governments are storing food in bulk? Where are they keeping it? Who can access it? And, if disaster strikes, will any get to you? Presenter: Emily Thomas Contributors: Tony Lister, Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Professor Tim Benton, University of Leeds, Tracey Allen, J.P. Morgan, Corinne Fleisher, World Food Programme. (Photo: abandoned warehouse. Credit: Getty Images)
10/08/1727m 55s

What Will You Eat if the Apocalypse Comes?

How long would your food supply last if you were unable to buy any food? Are you prepared for the worst is a hurricane hits, the floodwaters rise or the stock markets crash? Maybe your cupboards are full - but what if you had no electricity or gas to cook? Or if the water supply was turned off? And, if there was total breakdown of social order - could you defend the food you have? This week we meet the people who are stockpiling food in anticipation of anything from an earthquake to the apocalypse. They call themselves 'preppers'.Do they know something you don’t? When society is falling apart, do taste or texture matter? And when does stockpiling food become hoarding? The BBC’s Emily Thomas goes in search of some secret stockpiles to find the best post-apocalyptic food plans. With contributors: Pete Stanford, Lincoln Miles, owner, Preppers Shop, Henry Hargreaves, Photographer, Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom, and Kate Daigle, psychologist.
03/08/1727m 16s

Have We Cracked the Nut Problem?

It’s a food problem that can prove fatal - and we might be about to crack it. The first licensed medicines to treat peanut allergy are close to being approved by regulators. But we ask – why has it taken so long? For over a century we’ve known that an allergy can be treated by controlled exposure to the allergen. Simply put, the treatment of a peanut allergy is a very small dose of peanut. So when the prevalence of allergies began to soar in the 1990s you could have been forgiven for thinking a solution might not be far off. But as yet, there are no licensed medicines for widespread use. Some clinicians already use the technique – known as immunotherapy – but it is unregulated and the cost is prohibitive for many. This could all be about to change. Two treatments are expected to be approved by regulators in the next couple of years. It couldn't have happened without the involvement of charitable donors, venture capitalists, and pharmaceutical companies. The food industry has also invested millions. In this episode we explore the relationship between profit and progress when it comes to solving a serious food health problem. Why has it taken until now to get to this point? And, when the worst possible outcome is the death of a child, isn’t total avoidance of peanuts the safest option? Contributors: Dr Louisa James, Queen Mary University of London, Lisa and Clara Goff, Dr Andrew Clark, Cambridge Peanut Allergy Clinic and Chief Scientific Officer, Camallergy, Dr Pierre-Henri Benhamou, DBV technologies, Stephen Dilly, Aimmune Therapeutics, and Dr Robert Wood, John Hopkins Children’s Centre. Presenter: Emily Thomas
27/07/1727m 15s

Health lessons with the Hadza

We're continuing our adventures in east Africa with the Hadza – a skilled tribe of hunter gatherers who could be the last remaining link to our ancient food past. We join them as they hunt and forage, eating baobab for breakfast and enjoying some very unusual honey, all in the quest to discover the ideal human diet. The reason the scientists and geneticists are so interested in the Hadza, is because it’s thought they can help us better understand our complex relationship with our gut microbiome – the community of microbes that live inside us all. It’s thought the microbiome exerts such a powerful influence on our health it’s considered now to be in an organ in its own right, and the Hadza have a diversity of gut microbes unmatched by any group on earth. So if the Hadza can help us understand the microbiome and where our modern diets have gone wrong in depleting gut microbe diversity, perhaps the secrets of the their diet can help us all become healthier humans.
20/07/1726m 43s

Hunting with the Hadza

This week we’re going to be telling what might be the oldest food story in the world. The Hadza of Tanzania, east Africa, are one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer communities in the world and the last remaining link to our ancient food past. The total population of the group now stands at around one thousand, with up to two hundred living as pure hunter-gatherers, who grow nothing, and practice no form of farming. They’ve lived in this part of east Africa for at least 40 thousand years and food for the Hadza has remained relatively unchanged. We meet the community, who walk in the footsteps of our human ancestors, joining them as they hunt for porcupine, climb 30 feet up a tree in search of honey, dig deep for tubers and snack on berries picked from trees. Through this insight into what our earliest human ancestors ate, we learn about our own human development and the crucial link between the food we eat, and the crucial microbiomes we carry in our digestive systems. Using these discoveries, the Hadza can help give us much needed ideas for our food future. With contributors: Jeff Leach, Founder of the Human Food Project; Tim Spector, Professor of genetics at Kings College London. Presenter: Dan Saladino, in collaboration with BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme
13/07/1726m 38s

Fortification: Too Much of a Good thing?

What if we told you something had been added to your food that could affect your health? You can't see it, you won’t taste it, and you might not have realised it’s there at all. Most of us will eat something that has been fortified with micronutrients – small amounts of minerals and vitamins - every day. But who is adding them to our food - and why? And does a focus on fortification by development agencies mean valuable resources have been diverted from tackling underlying causes of malnutrition in the developing world? Mandatory fortification is when food manufacturers are required by law to add certain vitamins or minerals to foods. The other type of food fortification is voluntary - meaning it’s at the discretion of the manufacturer to add nutrients from a government-approved list. Some argue this leads to foods being fortified for commercial purposes, rather than genuine public health concerns. We’ll be speaking to global food company, Nestle, which is on a mission to fortify more of its processed food - and to one of the main NGOs involved in fortifying staple foods in the developing world, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. We also visit a bakery in London, and a street market in Accra, Ghana to hear what the consumer makes of all this. With contributors: Gordon Polson, Federation of Bakers in the UK, Mark Lawrence Professor in Public Health Nutrition at Deakin University, Australia, Wayne England, senior Vice President for the Global Strategy Unit at Nestle, Barrie Margetts, Emeritus Professor within Medicine, University of Southampton, UK and Lawrence Haddad, GAIN. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Milk being poured into an overflowing bowl of cornflakes. Credit: Getty Images)
06/07/1726m 40s

The Unlikely Power of Cookbooks

Even if you’ve never picked up a book of recipes - cookbooks will have had a huge influence on how you live. What may appear to be mere collections of ingredients and cooking methods, sometimes tell us just as much about social class, politics and gender. We explore how cookery books have been used to demonstrate power, strengthen colonial and soviet ideology, and divide society by class and race. Do we see these dividing lines reflected in today’s publishing industry? And what does your choice of cookbook say about you? Plus - why did a stuffed peacock leave 150 Harvard undergraduates aghast? With contributors: Barbara Ketcham-Wheaton, food historian and honorary curator of the culinary collection at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University; Polly Russell, food historian and curator at The British Library; Sarah Lavelle, publishing director at Quadrille; and Katharina Vester, professor of history at American University, Washington DC. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Man opens book. Credit: Getty Images)
29/06/1726m 46s

Food Secrets of Centenarians

People who have lived into their hundreds explain their food experiences and philosophies, to help us explore relationship between food and longevity. We ask whether despite having a greater variety of food available, and an ever growing abundance of dietary information, are younger generations able to replicate the diets of the oldest people on earth? Does modern food culture prevent us from emulating the food habits of centenarians? In Acciaroli, Italy,one of the BBC’s longest-standing reporters visits a village where more than one in ten people live more than a century, to find out their diet secrets. From there to Surrey, England, where 100 year old Helen Clare, a famous war-time singer explains her philosophy to food. Does attitude matter - and have younger generations become too obsessed with what we eat? We meet a man who has visited the oldest communities in the world - and hear their food secrets. What are the similarities between the diet of centenarians in Okinawa, Japan and California, US? Are there certain foods or general food principles that make you live longer? Or is it the company you keep? Plus, what is the scientific evidence for the link between diet and a longer life? With contributors: Helen Clare, singer, Dan Buettner, author, and John Mathers, scientific director of the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Woman eating ice cream. Credit: Getty Images)
22/06/1727m 6s

What Time is Dinner?

How social class has dictated when we eat. From Ancient Greece to New York hipsters, what has determined our mealtimes in the past and who wants them to change now? For thousands of years when we eat signified where we were in society. It seems this idea may not have been consigned to history - is the resurgence of brunch marking out a new 'creative' social class? And have you heard of the ‘fourth meal’? Snacking is on the rise - and the food industry might be helping you abandon the three meal model. Is more choice breaking apart the structured meal? Plus, what exactly is the scientific evidence that any of this matters? With contributions from: Paul Freedman, Yale University, Shawn Micallef, Author, Tamara Barnett, Vice President of Strategic Insights at The Hartman Group and Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, at Harvard University. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Clock and cutlery. Credit: Getty Images)
15/06/1727m 3s

Much Ado About Michelin

For many chefs winning a Michelin star, or two or three, is often considered the pinnacle of their career. It could put them on the path to money and fame. But some critics claim not all stars are equal- and in an industry where receiving one could mean the difference between profit and loss, the stakes are high. In this episode we take a closer look at the Michelin guide and how two brothers made the name of their tyre business synonymous with the highest quality food in the world. Why do some chefs view earning a Michelin star as a curse, and others as a celebration? We’ll get a behind the scenes look at the life of a Michelin inspector, with an interview with Claire Dorland-Clauzel, who heads the guides. The BBC's Kent DePinto speaks to Michelin-starred chef Tom Kemble on how the accolade has helped his career. Gary Pisano, professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School, talks about the impact of a Michelin star on a restaurant's ability to innovate. The BBC's Ashleigh Nghiem meets the Singaporian street hawker who was awarded a Michelin star. And we hear from food critic Andy Hayler on why he thinks recent partnerships by Michelin with tourist boards may be leading tourists astray. (Image: a Michelin guide on display. Credit: Kazuhiro Nogi / Getty Images)
08/06/1727m 21s

Talking Rot

If you found some mould on a slice of bread - would you eat it, cut it off, or throw the loaf away? What exactly is that green fur anyway? In this episode we’re asking whether we’ve become overly cautious about rot, and finding out how our attitudes to decaying food have changed. The BBC's Emily Thomas talks to Chris Wells from Leatherhead Food Research to find out when old food really becomes bad for you. Food historian Helen Zeit from Michigan State University explains how we may have become less tolerant of older food, and Christina Rice of Harvard law and Policy Clinic explains why the consumer is so confused over when to throw food away. Of course many of us are prepared to put our reservations about old food on hold when something’s presented as a delicacy. We’ll meet people who take pride in eating the oldest food they can – from a Sardinian cheese full of jumping maggots to a man who lived off fermented food alone for a year. Finally we’ll get up close to some creatures which you could call the true masters of the decomposing meal. (Photo: Mouldy bread. Credit: Getty Images).
01/06/1727m 13s

Hands Off My Food!

When it comes to aspects of cultural life being shared, adopted or borrowed in an increasingly globalised world - where more so than food? But should a culture be able to claim ownership of a cuisine, and should you profit from food that isn’t culturally your own? In this episode we discuss the cultural appropriation of food. Cultural appropriation can be defined as the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture. Some define it as the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of those elements - which reinforces historically exploitative relationships. We start in Ottowa Canada where a group of New Zealanders are objecting to the marketing of an energy drink. From there we go to Tennessee in the US where Rachel Martin, a food historian tells us how Hot Chicken has become Nashville’s favourite dish, and why she’s a little uncomfortable about how this happened. So where do you draw the line between appreciating food and appropriating or misappropriating it? The BBC’s Emily Thomas is joined by four people from the food world who have a real stake in this hot and divisive debate: Michael Twitty, a chef, food writer, and historian; Alex Stupak, a chef and founder of the Empellon Mexican restaurant chain in New York, Rachel Lauden, a food historian, based in Austin Texas, and Clarissa Wei, a food writer from Los Angeles. (Photo: Tacos being put on display by street vendor. Credit: Getty Images/ Milkos)
25/05/1727m 11s

The Real Value of a Cup of Tea

Coffee addict Dan Saladino sets out to understand what a cup of tea is really worth. Do we pay enough? In south west India, food writer Vanessa Kimbell gets up close to the leaf and hears the reality of a hard day’s work from a team of tea pluckers 6000 metres above sea level. From there we move to the Assam region in the north east to hear about an investigation into working conditions on a tea plantation. Will Battle, author of the World Tea Encyclopedia and a professional tea taster, explains how the global demand for tea has shaped where it’s grown and how it’s traded. Next, after the long journey from field to cup – what’s the best way to consume a cuppa? Tea tutor Caroline Hope is visited by people from all over the world to learn how the British drink tea. Finally, we enter a new realm of tea-drinking. Tim Doffay of Postcard Teas in London tells us about some of the world’s most expensive brews. (Photo: Cup of tea and saucer with gold spoon. Credit: Getty Creative)
22/05/1727m 16s


A forensic look at food and its crime-solving powers. We start with one of the most challenging cases London’s murder squad has ever faced. The BBC’s Emily Thomas meets the Metropolitan Police’s former head of homicide investigations, Andy Baker, by the banks of the Thames, to hear how a murder victim’s stomach contents can help detectives. We meet some hungry criminals – a bank robber with a burger and a thief with his hand in the biscuit tin. Former crime scene investigator Dennis Gentles, from Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland, explains new research to identify fingerprints on food, and David Foran, director of Michigan State University’s forensic science programme, tells us how a half-finished meal left at a crime scene can be a rich source of DNA. But why would a criminal stop for a snack? We speak to criminologist Richard Wright from Georgia State University. Plus, we find out how food industry technology is being used by detectives. Sheriff Todd Bonner from Wasatch County in Utah tells us how a case that haunted him for 18 years was eventually solved by a vacuum designed for use on food. Finally, the Food Chain’s own Simon Tulett, explores the mystery of the disappearing sausage stew. Please note - a couple of the cases we describe are of a graphic nature and might be upsetting for some, particularly younger listeners. (Photo: Apple and outstretched hand. Credit: Getty Creative).
11/05/1726m 54s

I Don't Cook

In the antithesis of a cookery programme, we meet people from around the world who can’t, don’t or won’t cook. Cooking from scratch will bring us health and happiness. Well that’s what we hear from countless cookbooks, magazines, TV shows, celebrity chefs, and even government initiatives. But studies suggest that in countries like the US and the UK people are cooking less than they did in the past. Is preparing our own food the realistic and logical choice for all of us? What are the social consequences if we don’t? Who better to tell us than the people who don’t cook? We start in the leafy London suburbs, where the BBC’s Emily Thomas meets some men who have spent most of their lives staying out of the kitchen. From there to a swish hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, for tales of a marriage torn apart by a wife’s inability to cook a certain soup. The non-cooking continues with Chilean actress Silvia Novak, journalist Bill Saporito in New York, and mum-of-two Melanie Dunn in Connecticut. Might they know something you don’t? Finally we talk to Sarah Bowen, associate professor at North Carolina State University. For her, the reasons people don’t cook tell us a lot about society and inequality. She thinks the ‘the food evangelists’ are partly to blame. Yes, there’s no space for master chefs in this week’s episode of the Food Chain. (Photo: Woman with rolling pin. Credit: Getty Creative).
04/05/1726m 53s

The Fish Japan Ate

The wild bluefin tuna is being eaten to extinction, but this hasn’t curbed the global appetite for this valuable fish in Japan and across the globe.In the last 70 years the fish has become a staple of high-end sushi restaurants and celebratory meals. It sells for up to hundreds of thousands of dollars–as to eat bluefin caught in the wild signifies quality. It is the apex of the sushi platter across Japan, which eats about 80% of all the wild bluefin consumed. But the tuna’s popularity is actually a relatively new phenomenon, as tuna was once regarded as a waste product until the middle of the 20th century, and even used for cat food. But recently, the appetite for the huge ocean-going fish has led to an ecological crisis, with projections that wild bluefin will no longer exist in the coming decades. The BBC’s Edwin Lane visits the iconic Tsukiji fish market, the hub of the global tuna trade, and speaks to a sushi chef who can’t bring herself to stop preparing the fish despite the extinction warning, and visits one of the world’s only functioning bluefin farms to talk about why it’s so difficult to raise bluefin tuna in captivity. (Photo: Bluefin tuna on ice Photo credit: Kindai University, Japan)
27/04/1726m 57s

Liberte, Egalite, Gastronomie?

Ahead of the French national elections, we’re looking at the food and politics of a country that for many is the epicentre of gastronomic excellence, with a tradition stretching back hundreds of years. Some see this crucial ingredient of the country's national identity being nibbled away by global competition. We talk to French chefs, producers and historians about what the state of French food tells us about the state of French politics. To understand a changing France, do you need to understand the changing French meal? We’ll be exploring the earliest origins of French cuisine, the foundations of the word ‘gastronomy’ and the advent of 'gastronationalism'. (Photo: Man holding bowl of croissants. Credit: Getty Images)
20/04/1726m 54s

Little Kitchen of Horrors

** The content in this week’s show requires a fairly strong stomach. So if you’ve got children with you, or you’re a bit squeamish yourself, best to look away now. ** Listen if you dare to this episode of The Food Chain, as we explore the scary, creepy, and spooky stories that people like to tell about what we eat. Why are some of our scariest stories about food? From the man-eating giants of Ancient Greek mythology, to the real story of Hansel and Gretel, the BBC’s Kent DePinto discusses why some of our scariest stories are about food and what that tells us about the societies that like to share them. We will also hear why many of those stories have their origins in agriculture and early economic systems. Watch out for the BBC's Regan Morris in California – as she finds out how horror films create their visual effects using bananas and gelatine, and Bryan Fuller, the creator of the television show Hannibal, on how making a programme about a villain with a gruesome diet made him question his own food habits. And what are we so afraid of? The social science behind why our bodies react to scary stories. You may just want to leave the lights on. (Photo: Selection of food and candles. Credit: Getty Images).
13/04/1727m 5s

Orthorexia Nervosa: When 'Healthy' Food Becomes Harmful

When does a ‘healthy diet’ become unhealthy? This week the Food Chain looks at Orthorexia Nervosa - an unofficial term used to describe an eating disorder where people restrict their diet based on the quality and purity of food, rather than its quantity. The BBC’s Emily Thomas talks to women who have suffered from following extreme healthy diets, and hears how their internet use influenced their eating behaviour. We also hear from the people trying to help those whose quality of life is being destroyed in their pursuit of quality food. If you or someone you know has been affected by eating disorders please see the links to resources at the bottom of this page. Photo: Woman rejecting water and lettuce Credit: Getty Images
06/04/1726m 57s

Hey, Hey We're The Food Chain

You can now listen to Food Chain starting on Thursdays, so to welcome new listeners, we’re offering up some of the best bits of our award-winning programme exploring the culture, science and economics of everything you eat. Could you survive at sea for two months on a small raft, relying on your wit to feed you? Steven Callahan did just that. But he had some difficult choices to make when the fish became his only friends. It's no secret that there is a fierce rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria over who makes the best jollof rice. Singer Sister Deborah talks to The Food Chain about the history of the dish - and what the redness of your jollof says about your culinary skill. Plus we revisit Chinatown and its chequered history. From Johannesburg to London, the BBC’s Dan Saladino, explores Chinatowns around the world, and hears about the attitudes Chinese workers encountered when they first set up shop in the US. (Image: A world map made of baking flour. Credit: Roberto David/ Thinkstock)
30/03/1727m 7s

One Potato More

In our second and final episode on the humble spud, we meet the people who see the global economic future as being potato powered. The potato is the world's most produced staple food after rice, wheat and corn - yet historically, it was seen as the root of filth, misery and obesity. In our previous episode we heard how over time it came to be used as a tool of power by the state, to create a healthy and robust workforce. This week, food historian Rebecca Earle, tells us that history is repeating itself in China, which is now the world's biggest producer of potatoes. China's central government sees the potato as key to food security, but it's got some work to do to produce a cultural shift away from rice. We'll be serenaded by one of the country's potato champions, the operatic 'new farmer' Sister Potato, who says she is changing hearts, minds and cuisine with her songs. Then we'll head to the streets of Beijing to gauge enthusiasm and ask can the spud shake off its lowly reputation? Africa and developing countries have the biggest predicted growth in potato production in the coming decades. But is the world in danger of putting all its spuds in one basket? We’re asking whether the potato is the answer to food security or if the vegetable’s patchy history doomed to repeat itself. Plus we head to Peru to visit the scientists protecting thousands of varieties of potato, and meet the man who ate nothing but potatoes - for a year. (Image: A farmer eats a potato in China . Credit: Spencer Platt/ Getty Images)
25/03/1726m 29s

Poor Old Potato

In its time, the potato has been called the root of filth, misery and obesity - but is it fair to call it the 'food of the poor'? In the first episode of a two-part series, The Food Chain goes to the very roots of the world's most popular vegetable, digging up some new perspectives on its history. We visit the British Museum to meet Bill Sillar from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London. He explains how the early Andeans and Inca developed innovative ways to cultivate potatoes, but preferred to celebrate maize instead. From there we move to the kitchens at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace, and find out how the spud was met with scepticism in Europe when it first arrived. Food historian Marc Meltonville tells the BBC's Emily Thomas how the humble spud was made into pasties and pies. By the 19th century, the potato had firmly taken root in the west, but it was still subject to widespread disdain. The journalist and farmer, William Cobbett said potatoes should be fed to pigs, not people, and that they were the cause of "slovenliness, filth, misery and slavery". We speak to food historian Rebecca Earle at the University of Warwick, who explains how despite its reputation, the potato has played an important role in agricultural and economic development. The tuber was perhaps one of the very first products of globalization, and we hear how it became equated with a robust and hardy workforce, and associated with capitalism. Finally, we ask what the future holds for the potato. Will it ever be able to shake off its unsavoury reputation? (Image: A variety of raw potatoes. Credit: Ernesto Benavides/ AFP/ Getty Images)
18/03/1726m 28s

The Food We Breathe

As part of the BBC wide #SoICanBreathe season, The Food Chain explores how the ways we grow and cook our food can affect how we breathe. From the indoor pollution generated by cooking, to how farming practices change the air for miles around, our food can have a big impact on how we breathe. We come full circle to find out how air pollution can get in to our food and why your lettuce might have spots. But it's not all bad news, and we'll also visit India and Ghana to explore developments that might help us all breathe a bit more easily. Plus, if our diet is potentially part of the problem when it comes to air pollution, could it also be part of the solution? (Image: A Pakistani woman blows on a small cooking fire to bake bread at a makeshift camp. Credit: Rizwan Tabassum/ Getty Images)
11/03/1726m 29s


What can fast food tell us about the changing global economy? This week Karishma Vaswani, the BBC's Asia Business correspondent, takes a closer look at the history and the future of McDonald's in Asia. For many the company is a symbol of globalisation and food. To globalise though, the company has had to localize, and with that comes challenges. From Beijing, to Hong Kong, to Delhi, we explore the changing tastes of Asia, and what the future might be for a market many multi-national companies have set their sights on. Is the business model of franchising still an effective way to export a food business? And as countries modernise is it getting harder for a global brand to compete with local rivals? (Photo: Ronald McDonald at the opening of a McDonald's in Beijing. Photo credit: STR/AFP/Getty)
03/03/1726m 29s

Post-Truth Food

Remember the great bacon shortage of 2012? No? What about the one earlier this year? Still no? Well maybe that’s because they didn’t happen. The Oxford English dictionary defines post-truth as: "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief". This week we're looking at why stories about food shortages take hold so quickly – whether they are true or not. We’ll start with a popular food story from recent weeks, which warned the US could be running out of bacon. Brad Tuttle, journalist with Time Magazine separates the facts from the fiction. But why do stories like these spread like wildfire? We speak to Michaela DeSoucey, Assistant Professor of Sociology at North Carolina State University, who says it’s not just our brains that react to food shortage scares – our behaviour changes too. And Paul Buckley, a psychologist at Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales in the UK, explains why an abundance of information leaves the consumer confused. What can be done about all this confusion in a world where we are bombarded with information - and increasingly hear that we shouldn't believe much of what we are told? In a post-truth world, are we even more susceptible to exaggerated or untrue stories? We speak to Dominique Brossard, professor and chair in the Department of Life Sciences Information at the University of Wisconsin. Finally - in a week where famine is officially declared for the first time in six years by the United Nations (UN) - we turn to the most worrying headline of all: that the world could run out of food. We speak to Joel Cohen, professor of populations at the Rockerfeller University and Columbia University in New York and Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the UN Food and Agricultural Organization. (Image: A long-nosed figure with a carrot dangling off the end leading people off a cliff. Credit: wildpixel/ Thinkstock)
25/02/1726m 28s

Wheelchair Fajitas and Talking Scales

Food is how we structure everyday life. For some people living with disabilities, the smallest of culinary tasks can be very frustrating and difficult. As part of the BBC’s Disability Works season - exploring the experiences of disabled people in the workforce and as consumers - the Food Chain looks at the important role food plays for people who have, or acquire, a disability. We hear what it’s like to grow up in a tribe when you can’t take part in the most valued activity – farming. Kudakwashe Dube had polio as a child in rural Zimbabwe and is now the CEO at the African Disability Allowance. He explains how people with disabilities can be discriminated against when it comes to taking part in agriculture, and receiving food aid. The BBC’s Kathleen Hawkins hears stories of how technology, like mesh gloves and talking scales, can create an adaptive modern kitchen. She also takes us to her own home where we hear how she cooks from her wheelchair which struggles to fit between the kitchen cupboards. How can the kind of problems she faces be resolved? We speak to occupational therapist assistant Ann Kelly and registered dietician Juliette Harmer from the UK’s Ministry of Defence to find out. Plus, we’ll discuss how modified chopsticks in Japan can be life-changing for people with disabilities. Katsuyuki Miyabi, a craftsman, doesn't think anybody should be excluded from using this age-old tool which is so important in Japanese society. Finally, Emma Tracey from the BBC’s Ouch programme visits a café where food is made by a blind cook and his autistic helper. (Image: A man in a wheelchair in a lowered kitchen. Credit: Huntstock/ Thinkstock)
18/02/1726m 29s

The Plankton Problem

You've swallowed many of them throughout your life without realising, and some look like aliens: we look at plankton, the sea's smallest living creatures that have a big global impact. At the centre of the food web, and responsible for most of the air we breathe, these microscopic plants and animals are eaten by fish in our seas, which are eaten by bigger creatures, and eventually eaten by humans. But what happens when new problems hit these ancient critters, which have existed for millions of years? And how does it affect our health - and our plates? We speak to Jeff Herman in the US, whose skin was left crawling and in sweats after he got Ciguatera food poisoning from eating a hogfish. He tells us how his nightmarish symptoms were linked to toxins created by plankton. We share a voyage with the crew in charge of the world's oldest plankton recorder in Plymouth, England. They have been monitoring the world's seas since the 1930s to check on the health of these tiny creatures so vital to our food chain. Plankton scientists tell the BBC's Emily Thomas that new types of plankton not seen since the Ice Age are moving in - prompting questions around how plankton will adapt to new challenges like pollution and climate change. And what would you do if the sea around you turned bright red? So-called red tides can blight seasides and devastate fishing industries from Florida to the South China Sea. Hong Kong journalist Ernest Kao tells us about the devastation created by an overpopulation of algae, another kind of plankton. And Professor Lora Fleming tells us about the movements and patterns of these tiny creatures, how toxins from some can skew with your sense of hot and cold, and how new research is helping us to harness the power of plankton in a more sustainable way. (Image: Man swimming towards a 'red tide' or algal bloom in Sydney. Credit: William West/ ThinkStock )
11/02/1726m 29s

Got Gumbo?

What can one single dish tell you about America's history? One particular bowl of soup gives us an insight about the future of cultures that convene around it. Gumbo is eaten by nearly everyone in New Orleans, but its past speaks of the deep inequalities in American history that still resonate to this day. The BBC's Dan Saladino looks in to the origins of this dish and discovers influences from Native Americans, slaves from West Africa, settlers from Nova Scotia, and European immigrants from Spain, France and Italy. Dan tries to track down the perfect recipe for one of Louisiana's most famous dishes, and discovers how the politics of which food belongs to whom, is still at play, hundreds of years later. (Image: A close up of a bowl of gumbo. Credit: Warren_Price/ Thinkstock)
04/02/1726m 28s

Should You Drink Your Food?

Why won't our brains let us feel full on liquid food? After all, we spent the first months of our lives living on milk alone. We talk to a man who lived on liquid alone for 30 days, as we explore why adults are ditching the knife and fork in favour of meals in liquid form. We visit a juice and smoothie café in London where a gourmet smoothie can cost as much as a hot roast dinner, and meet a woman who is only too happy to swap her meal for a drink. Sociology and Food expert Anne Murcott, from SOAS, University of London, tells us this trend is all in the marketing, and Richard Mattes of Purdue University explains why our adult brains are not perfectly wired to detect calories in drink form - and takes us on a journey through our digestive system to help us understand how we process liquid food. And a warning about a little known problem that could be hiding in your smoothie, from allergy expert Dr Isabel Skypala. Plus, we talk to the companies making whole meals in a bottle. The CEO of German company Bertrand, Tobias Stöber shares the thinking behind his product. Professor Amy Bentley isn't convinced though. She's from the Department of Food Studies, Nutrition and Public Health at New York University and tells the BBC's Emily Thomas why she doubts the nutritional value of these drinks. (Image: A spilled glass of strawberry smoothies. Credit: Kondor 83/ Thinkstock)
21/01/1726m 29s

Of Maize and Men: Unpicked

This week we continue the story of the most abundant crop on earth. Last week we established its position as the king of the crops. This time we ask: are we producing too much of a good thing? Does the way we produce this crop epitomise everything that’s wrong with the global food system? Maize - or corn, as it’s also known - is the lynchpin of the industrialised food supply. The BBC’s Emily Thomas talks to Ricardo Salvador from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Stephen Macko from the University of Virginia about how the crop could be the fuelling the obesity problem in the developed world. Conversely, hundreds of millions of people in the developing world rely on maize for their very survival. Prasanna Boddupalli, from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, explains the value of this crop – and the impact of US policy in sub-saharan Africa. We visit a farm in Aylesbury in the South of England and explore the role of corn in intensive livestock farming, with farmer Tom Morrison. From there we move to the cornbelt in the US Midwest, where corn farmer David Brant explains his solution for growing maize without stripping the soil, and polluting the rivers. (Image: An eerie scarecrow in a crop field. Credit: pick-uppath/ Thinkstock)
14/01/1726m 29s

Of Maize and Men: The Rise

Corn is everywhere, in much of our food, drink and even packaging. It has found its way, in a myriad of guises, into thousands of products and has come to dominate the industrialised food supply. Hundreds of millions of people in the developing world rely on it too, for their very survival. This week we bring you the story behind the king of the crops, in the first of two programmes dedicated to its spectacular rise, and its implications. The BBC's Emily Thomas learns how maize rose to pre-eminence with author Betty Fussell, and takes a crash course in plant biology with Ricardo Salvador, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, to hear why corn is so productive. . We hear one woman's unenviable, life or death battle to avoid this ubiquitous ingredient and talk to a man who can estimate your corn consumption from a single strand of your hair. Finally, we ask what lengths a government will go to to protect their corn secrets, and find out why the Chinese government is scaling back its production of the crop. (Image: A man standing next to a field of tall maize crops. Credit: alexsalcedo/ Thinkstock)
07/01/1726m 28s

Food Chain: The Quiz

Have you ever wondered how many litres of water it takes to make one egg, or what links a 19th-Century electrician to modern pet food? Whose job was it to eat a corpse cake, what really happens when you burn your toast, and what are the world’s most powerful chili peppers? For the answers to these and many more questions, join us for the ultimate test of culinary trivia in The Food Chain’s inaugural quiz. Get your pens ready and play along with our studio panel: BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones; BBC Radio 4 correspondent Matthew Price; Jozef Youssef, chef and founder of Kitchen Theory in London; and BBC World Service presenter Jackie Leonard. (Photo: Flour plus egg equals spaghetti. Credit: Ryan Michael Rodrigo/EyeEm/Getty Images)
31/12/1626m 29s

Food Chain: The Musical

What can our music tell us about our culinary and cultural heritage? We explore the ways songs about planting, growing, milking and cooking reflect our lives and our livelihoods. The BBC's Kent DePinto takes us through a sampler of music from around the world, all performed with one thing in mind - food. We'll interpret the rhythm of milking songs in northwest Scotland, visit the hey-day of Yiddish theatre in Manhattan's Lower East Side, dip our toe into an age-old culinary beef in Ghana, and hear how a samba about fish eggs pinpoints social inequality in Brazil. Plus, we get a lesson in playing the leek from an orchestra that only plays vegetables. (Image: A music sheet made of edible salad leaves. Credit: ShaunL/ Getty Images )
24/12/1626m 29s

Survival Stories: ‘We Ate Spiders, Flies and Worms’

Lost in a barren and unforgiving part of Turkey, and forced to hide for days in a cave to get away from torrential rain and floods, a group of students turn to berries, grass and insects for sustenance. We speak to two of the students: Merije de Groot and David Mackie. Plus, what happens when you’re surrounded by people, but still have nothing to eat? We hear from Amin Sheikh – who survived alone on the streets of Mumbai for three years from the age of five. In the third of our Survival Stories programmes, the BBC's Emily Thomas is joined by Max Krasnow, an evolutionary psychologist from Harvard University, who explains how your tastebuds could save your life, and Dr Chris Fenn, a nutritionist and survival expert. (Image: David Mackie, after being rescued in Turkey in January 2015. Credit: Anadolu Agency/ Getty Images)
17/12/1626m 29s

Hunger in the Rich World

Why do people struggle to feed themselves in wealthy societies? Food banks - depositories of donated and excess food where the neediest can collect ingredients for basic meals - have been running in America since the 1960s. But they are only meant to be for emergencies. Why then, does it seem that in some developed economies, they have become the last defence for those unable to feed themselves? The BBC’s Manuela Saragosa visits the Oasis Waterloo Foodbank in London to hear the stories of people who depend on donated food during times of hardship. We look at the different perspectives around food aid and charity – is it right to treat food banks as a political issue? And, we explore how hunger and food waste - another perennial food problem - might make interesting bedfellows. (Photo: A woman browses canned foods at a food bank in San Francisco. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
10/12/1626m 28s

The Hidden Cost of a Home-Cooked Meal

Who does the cooking in your house? In many cultures the responsibility for preparing meals at home traditionally falls to women. But as more women join the global workforce, traditional household responsibilities are changing. What impact is that having have on our internal family dynamics? As part of the BBC's 100 Women season, we hear about the social and economic costs of putting a meal on the family table, when the most expensive ingredient is time. Four women from different continents explain the challenges they face trying to balance family life, work, and food. A working mother in Mumbai tells us why she won't give up her kitchen, and a stay at home mum in New York explains why her working husband does most of the cooking. Plus, we hear that in parts of rural Kenya women who cannot cook are far from marriage material. (Picture: A woman prepares vegetables in a village in Bangladesh. Credit: Jewel Samad, Getty Images)
03/12/1626m 28s

Full English Brexit

Twentieth century British playwright and novelist Somerset Maugham said that to eat well in Britain, you should eat breakfast thrice daily. And, nothing speaks to British culinary tradition more than the Full English breakfast - bacon, sausages, egg, beans, black pudding and mushrooms all on one plate. But how much of the ‘full English’ today is actually English? And, in a post-Brexit United Kingdom, how will the industries that cater to British breakfasters fare? The BBC’s Manuela Saragosa works her way through each food on the full English breakfast plate and explores how they could be impacted following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Ian Dunt, author of Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now?, explains why many believe food prices are set to eventually rise. The UK imports two thirds of its supply from neighbouring Ireland, but as the BBC’s Diarmaid Fleming finds out, some Irish mushroom farmers have already gone out of business. Claire Macleod of Charles Macleod Butchers tells us why Brexit has cast uncertainty on the future of her black puddings. And, we speak to the staff and diners of Brunchies Café in Sutton, south of London – are they concerned about adding a sprinkling of Brexit to their breakfast and if costs rise, is it a price worth paying? (Photo: A traditional English breakfast plate, with Union Jack flag. Credit: Thinkstock)
26/11/1626m 28s


From the golden crust on a perfectly-baked loaf, to a crispy, crunchy potato chip - do you ever wonder why food that's been browned or charred, can smell, taste and look so good? It's one of cooking's most important flavour secrets. But it's now at the centre of a battle between health campaigners and the European food industry. The BBC’s Mike Johnson follows the story of browned and burnt food from an unexpected discovery in Paris 100 years ago to a state-of-the-art food testing laboratory in the UK, picking up some tips at a London cookery school along the way. (Picture: Unhappy burnt toast Credit: Thinkstock)
19/11/1626m 29s

In Search of Lost Foods

What happens to a food when people stop eating it? Most of the food we eat today comes from a handful of crops, but before we became a globalised society, our diet reflected a variety of plants, proteins and foods that were cultivated as local specialties. Now, as our diets become less diverse, these foods face a critical point in their existence. In this programme the BBC's Dan Saladino explores several stories of foods that are dying out and talks to the farmers and producers who are working to save them. (Photo: Mexican Blue Corn Credit: Omar Torres/AFP/Getty Images)
12/11/1626m 29s

Plate of the Union

Can you tell a Democrat by their salad? A Republican by their hamburger? An Independent by their coffee? With the outcome of the US presidential election just days away, The Food Chain looks at the surprising role food has played in a campaign like no other. We visit Arizona, a swing state in this year’s election, to see whether Americans think your food preference can be determined by your political preference. Regina Ragone of Family Circle magazine tells the BBC’s Kent DePinto how a comment by Hilary Clinton started a nation-wide baking contest that has been running since 1992. Plus, Lizzie O’Leary from Marketplace follows the money to understand how the political wishes of big food companies is expressed in political donations. We look at how taco trucks have become one the 2016 election's most polarizing issues. And we hear about the forgotten tradition of the American election cake. Photo: A blueberry pie in the design of an American flag. Photo Credit: Thinkstock
05/11/1626m 29s

Dining with the Dead

Food is a fundamental part of life’s biggest celebrations, from birthdays and weddings to religious feasts. It’s also a key part of death. This week, we hear how saying farewell to the departed has inspired centuries of food tradition, from corpse cakes and sin-eating in medieval Europe, to the pan de muertos and sugar skulls of Mexico's Day of the Dead. We visit a Death Cafe in London to find out how food and drink help end the taboos around discussing grief and loss, and we go graveside feasting in Estonia, where family meals include the departed. Plus, how funeral food extravagance is driving families into enormous debt in Ghana. (Picture: Chocolate skulls prepared for Mexico's Day of The Dead celebrations)
29/10/1626m 29s

Vegan Babies: Should You Restrict Your Child’s Diet?

Are parents wrong to impose their own restrictive diets on their children? An Italian MP wants to jail parents who choose vegan or other “reckless” diets for their kids. But many of these families argue their children are healthy and happy. This week, we take a look at the implications of excluding certain foods from a child’s plate. Should children be encouraged to develop their own food choices regardless of their parents’ convictions? Vegan, veggie and Paleo parents talk to the BBC’s Manuela Saragosa. (Photo: A child contemplates a plate of salad. Credit: Thinkstock)
22/10/1626m 29s

Should We All Be Vegans?

What would happen if we all became vegans? Veganism – cutting out animal products from your diet, and often your wardrobe – suddenly seems more mainstream than ever. It is attracting followers from Beyoncé to Al Gore, and there’s a new breed of vegan, too: vloggers espousing their veggie-heavy lifestyle to millions of online fans. Whether it is for health, environmental or ethical reasons, more and more people are embracing plant-based food. The BBC’s Mike Johnson sets out to explore what the world would look like if everyone gave up animal products tomorrow, and the economic consequences of a meat and dairy-free world. We talk to the owner of the first vegan café in Qatar, we test a meatless burger that ‘bleeds’ beetroot juice and we weigh up the human cost of an animal-free diet. (Photo: A detail of a painting by Giuseppe Acrimboldo featuring a man's head made out of vegetables. Credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
15/10/1626m 28s

Stories from Syria

How do people living through the Syrian conflict find food? The BBC’S Dan Saladino explores what’s happening in Syria, where food is often used as both a weapon and target of war. Bakeries have been reportedly targeted in bombings, and profiteers look to gain from the scarcity of staples by hiking up prices for the food that is available. We speak to Jakob Kern, who oversees a $700m operation for the UN’s World Food Programme as he attempts to get food aid into besieged towns and hard to reach communities. And we hear a meal shared between two re-settled Syrian families as they try to start a new life away from their war-torn homeland. Plus, we further explore how a food culture re-forms after it’s forced to flee and relocate, as Syrian-American Dalia Mortada shares the food stories she’s been collecting from the diaspora in the United States. And the small industries that might offer hope for farmers in a post-conflict country. (Photo: Bakers pack bread at a bakery in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Credit: Karam Al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images)
08/10/1626m 29s

The Olympics of Chinese Food

The world's top names in Chinese cuisine meet once every four years in a prestigious and gruelling cooking contest to determine which of them is the very best. Can a team of UK chefs make a gold medal-winning debut? The BBC's Celia Hatton takes a front-row seat at the World Championship of Chinese Cuisine, often called the Olympics of Chinese cooking. She follows Gavin Chun, a first-time competitor from London, who hopes to help his team to culinary glory. But will the chefs be able to execute the complicated 56 dishes they have to make? And what does the competition say about the evolution of modern Chinese food? (Photo: A chef at the World Championship of Chinese Cuisine)
01/10/1626m 30s


Invasive species or pests are animals that end up in an ecosystem that is not their natural home. They pose a huge environmental risk to local ecosystems and food systems. But perhaps there is a solution and it might involve getting our taste buds used to the idea of eating them. Some of us are doing it already. One of the most popular items on one London menu is the pesky grey squirrel. We also head to Australia to hear how feral camels have found an unlikely market with an immigrant community. And, why a lobster has Sweden and North America getting their claws out. (Photo: A camel at QCamel dairy, Queensland, Australia. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
24/09/1626m 28s

The New Sushi

It's widely agreed that bugs could be a sustainable source of protein for humans in the future, but large-scale production is very labour intensive. As the BBC’s Katy Watson discovers, in Mexico - where there is a long bug-eating tradition - the infrastructure required for a profitable bug industry is almost non-existent. In the US though, where the idea of having insects for lunch still turns most stomachs, some farmers are adding bugs to protein bars and crushing them into powder for health-conscious Californians. Some proponents say insects could be the new sushi. But are they right? (Picture: A scorpion served up in Mexico.)
17/09/1626m 28s

Food on the Open Road

It could be argued that our global economy is in some ways, driven by drivers. That is, long-haul truckers who carry goods from one side of a country to another. But truck driving is a profession that is struggling to recruit new members and a lot of it has to do with lifestyle and what’s available to eat. The BBC’s Mike Johnson discovers that a lack of fresh food options, combined with a sedentary lifestyle and strict schedules, leave truck drivers facing a higher rate of obesity and a shortened life-span when compared to other professions. But some truck drivers are working to change that. Plus, we discover what it’s like to eat on the road in the world’s longest country, and get a lesson in cab cooking along the way. (Photo: Truck drivers wait to pass at the border between Greece and Bulgaria. Credit: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP)
10/09/1626m 29s

Big Beer

Next month, the world’s current largest beer maker, AB InBev is expected to take over the world’s second largest beer maker, SABMiller. If the plan goes ahead, together they will become the world's largest brewer, making about one out of every three beers around the world. But many, craft beer drinkers especially, do not like the idea of a single company making so much of our brew. The BBC’s Manuela Saragosa asks whether their concerns are valid - or whether it is all just froth. She talks to beer writer Peter Brown and travels to a hop farm in the English countryside to see where it all begins. We head to Uganda where homemade brew is still the traditional drink of choice, and Jasper Cuppaidge from Camden Town Brewery - a London-based brewer - tells us what being taken over by a global company has done for his business. And, the BBC’s Rob Young breaks down the deal for us in the pub.
02/09/1626m 29s

Naturally Misleading?

What is 'natural' food and is it better for us? We explore the language of food labelling. Does a product bearing the word 'natural' on its label make you more likely to buy it? Or, is describing food as 'natural' just a marketing trick? We hear from a cattle farmer in the US state of Vermont who stopped using growth hormones on his herd so that the meat can be sold as 'natural'. Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, professor emeritus at Goldengate University in the US, explains how companies market "natural" food to us. Are some supermarkets misleading their consumers with the way they are presenting their food? Journalist Tom Levitt from The Guardian tells Manuela Saragosa why some packaging may not tell the whole story. And we hear how the mislabelling of food in China can provide rich pickings for professional label readers. With more and more products declaring their 'pure' origins, David Jago, director of Global Insight and Innovation at the market intelligence company Mintel, outlines the size of the market. Should the word 'natural' be more closely defined? We ask Daniel Fabricant, CEO of the Natural Products Association in the US and a former FDA official. Also, Manuela asks whether a diet of completely unprocessed natural food could actually be healthier for our bodies. Nutritionist Dimple Thakrar from Fresh Nutrition tells us why some processing could add to a healthy diet. And lawyer Kun Hoe describes how some professional label readers in China can benefit from mistakes in packaging. (Photo: Shoppers in China's Anhui province. Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
27/08/1626m 29s

Survival Stories: Fish bacon for breakfast

Our second episode of Survival Stories further explores our relationship with food in the most extreme circumstances. What choices do we make about what we eat, when we’re all alone in the wild? Do our reflexes, instincts and tastes change? First, the story of Steve Callahan, who was adrift on an inflatable raft in the middle of the Atlantic ocean for 76 days. He tells the BBC’s Emily Thomas how he began to make three courses out of just one fish, and how it felt when his only companions and friends were also his main source of food. Plus, the tale of Yossi Ghinsberg who was lost in the Amazon rainforest. When he got separated from his group, Yossi survived for 20 days on what the forest gave him, and hoped desperately for a monkey to fall from a tree. We also find out what happens to our bodies when they go into survival mode with Dr Chris Fenn, who specialises in survival in extreme environments. How much can we rely on our gut instincts? And should you ever drink from the sea? (Photo credit: BBC)
20/08/1626m 29s

Survival Stories: Lost in the Desert

What happens when your food choices are determined by nothing but the environment around you and your own resolve? The Food Chain follows the story of 72- year-old grandmother Ann Rodgers, who went missing in the Arizona wilderness in March 2016. In this illustrated food survival story, we examine the food choices we make when left with just our animal instincts. The BBC's Emily Thomas uncovers the science behind those decisions too – and what happens to our bodies when our diet goes from balanced to bare with nutritionist Dr Chris Fenn. (Photo credit: Ann Rodgers)
13/08/1626m 29s

Fertile Food

How much could your diet affect your ability to have a child? Throughout history, harvest and the abundance of food have been associated with the creation of life. Join us on a journey from ancient traditions to the latest science. When the vegetable sellers of east London shed little light on which foods make us fertile, the BBC’s Emily Thomas goes to the Wellcome Library to look through some 16th century recipe books with Dr Jennifer Evans from the University of Hertfordshire. From stags' testicles, to ‘mad apples’ we find out which food the ancient Egyptians thought to be the biggest aphrodisiac, and why a 300 year old recipe book tells us beans lead to babies. How well does this all sit with the latest science? We talk to Dr Jorge Chavarro, from the Harvard Schools of Public Health and Medicine. Also, unless you're a woman trying for a baby, you may think folic acid isn’t something you should be too worried about… but in about a third of countries in the world, it is mandatory to add it to main food products, such as wheat flour. Why supplement the whole population with something that might only be needed by some? We speak to Mark Lawrence, Professor in Public Health Nutrition at Deakin University in Melbourne. Plus, hear some Bulgarian fertility music and find out why the grinding of black peppers is a ritual performed by men at weddings. Finally, we look at how hormones get into the food chain with Dr Richard Lea of the University of Nottingham, and ask if this should be a cause for concern. (Photo: New arrivals at the Queen Charlotte Hospital, London, in 1945. Credit: Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
06/08/1626m 29s

Food on the Move: What We Want, When We Want It

Fruit in the summer, grain in the autumn - our diets once consisted of eating what was around us and what was in season. But we now live in a global food village, where in many countries the idea of eating seasonally has been consigned to history. In the 21st Century we ship, fly and truck our food supply across huge distances. Britain, for example, imports 90% of its fresh fruit. The BBC’s Mike Johnson is dockside at one of Europe’s biggest ports to hear how - and why - the world is racking up the food miles. Ross McKissock at the Port of Tilbury outlines the importance of the food trade to the port business. We step inside a vast refrigerated warehouse and ask Dale Fiddy of NFT Distribution if the new facility is a sign that the industry is on the up? Technological advances have made their mark on the way our food has moved over the centuries - Susanne Freidberg, professor of Geography at Dartmouth College, takes us back through time with the history of food transportation. We hear from a vegetable packing plant in Kenya, which leads the world in terms of exports of fresh produce by air. Shipping food over vast distances is now an established part of global trade, but does it really make financial sense? Washington economist and expert on international shipping, Marc Levinson explains the economics of moving food in huge volumes. And, could it actually be good for the environment? A question for Kath Dalmeny from environmental group, Sustain. (Photo: Factory workers sort out creates of peppers. Credit: Sergio Camacho/Getty Images)
30/07/1626m 29s

Inside the Kitchens of Power

Why is cheese essential when the German Chancellor comes for dinner? For millennia, international relations have been massaged by the chefs working inside palaces and state kitchens. The BBC’s Dan Saladino finds out about their unusual vocation and how their food might have influenced some of the biggest decisions in history. He meets Gilles Bragard, the founder of the world’s most exclusive culinary club, Le Club des Chefs Des Chefs, which brings together twenty people who cook for Heads of State. Gilles shares some food secrets, including how the Kremlin's kitchen keeps President Putin’s food safe. We visit the huge kitchens of Hampton Court Palace, where in 16th Century England, wine fountains and extravagant roasted meats were cooked to help Henry VIII impress - and intimidate - foreign dignitaries. We move from there to look at arguably the most powerful cooking place in the modern era - the White House kitchen. Sam Kass, a former chef and close friend to the Obamas, explains how new ideas and even food policies for the future can be cooked up in State kitchens. Plus, we go behind the scenes in the Belgian Embassy in Chile to see diplomacy in action – and talk to professor Stephen Chan of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies about Mugabe’s lavish feasts. We also meet David Geisser, a former Vatican chef and hear insights into the culinary preferences of Pope Francis. We find out if the Vatican leader practises what he preaches about food. Finally, we talk to a journalist in Brussels who has witnessed some recent and dramatic EU meals, including the former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s last supper with European leaders. (Photo: Barack Obama in 2008. Credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)
26/07/1626m 29s

Beauty from Within?

This week we're looking at what happens when the worlds of food and beauty collide. The BBC's Emily Thomas explores how the market for nutricosmetics - foods that have claimed beauty benefits - is growing by 10% every year. A beauty blogger in Tokyo explains why she thinks these products are already popular in Asia, particularly Japan. In China, the concept of beauty from within sits comfortably with traditional medicine. One 'beauty food' that's been consumed for thousands of years is gelatin from donkey hide. We talk to the owner of a Beijing restaurant and the customers tucking in to his donkey hotpot. Plus, we look at the rise of ingestible beauty in the West, and the products that have failed along the way. Could the food industry turn the beauty industry on its head? One company that thinks so invites us to take a look at their laboratory where they’ve created a small chocolate bar, which they say prevents ageing and promises all the goodness of 300g of Alaskan salmon. The promises made by these products are compelling - but is there enough science to back them up? We speak to an experts from Yale University in the US and a global collagen company in Europe. Finally, we ask whether we should expect food to be the elixir of eternal youth, or if nutricosmetics feed an unhealthy pressure to be beautiful from the inside. (Photo: A young woman eats strawberries in 1936: Credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images)
16/07/1626m 29s

Can Cheese Help Save an Economy?

The BBC’s Dan Saladino takes a journey on a newly built road through the remote mountains of the country’s north in search of a slice of mishavin cheese. After decades of communist rule, Albania started its transition to democracy in 1991. It hasn’t been easy. The country, which borders Greece and Macedonia, remains one of the poorest in Europe; it experienced massive rural depopulation, emigration and has stubbornly high levels of unemployment. However, many are convinced one answer to many of Albania’s problems lies in its food and farming past. Tucked away in the mountainous communities of the north are some of the oldest food traditions in the Balkans, from dairy and meat products to foraged fruits and fermented vegetables. Could these foods be the basis for a new form of entrepreneurialism and kick start a tourism industry? The Albanian government and NGOs operating in the country think so. (Photo: Albanian mishavin cheese)
09/07/1626m 29s

Plough Your Own Furrow?

The British people have voted to quit the European Union. That would leave the UK once again in charge of its own agricultural and fisheries policy – so what should that future look like? Could we see a return to the Cod Wars, where countries used gunboat diplomacy to assert their fishing rights? We hear from fishermen in Scotland, keen to win back control over their waters. Plus, dairy farmers in Cornwall tell us they fear a future where exports to the EU may become more expensive. And, we look to New Zealand, which became the only developed country in the world to withdraw financial support for its farmers in the 1980s - could that be the model for the UK to follow? We are joined by a panel of guests - Geoff Pickering, a Yorkshire sheep farmer, Guy Smith, vice-president of the National Farmers Union and Vincent Smith, an agricultural economist at Montana State University in the US. (Photo: A ploughing competition in Scotland. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
02/07/1626m 28s

Mind your Manners

It's not what you eat, but the way that you eat it on this week's The Food Chain. As people are exposed to cuisines from all over the world, we ask if there has been a global shrugging off of table manners. From how we sit, to the tools we use, is there a best way to consume food? And what do your eating implements of choice - hands, cutlery, or chopsticks - say about your cultural identity? We start at Lalibela, an Ethiopian restaurant in North London where experts in dining etiquette and history join us to eat a feast with their hands. Food historian Bee Wilson tells us cutlery is about so much more than just manners, and explains how entire cultures of eating are founded on utensils. Lunchtime diners in Delhi reveal what we are missing when we pick up a knife and fork, and Indian food historian and critic Pushpesh Pant explains how people across the country are rediscovering their regional and cultural roots in the way they eat. Plus, a chef at a top-end Delhi restaurant tells us why he thinks the tide is turning in fine dining. In ancient Greece elite men reclined to eat. Dr Ayesha Akbar, a Consultant in Gastroenterology tells us why they may have had the right idea. We also discuss the benefits of communal eating - and find out why some people fly into a frenzy of rage at the sound of chewing and slurping. Finally, it has been said that while on the European continent people have good food, but in England people have good table manners. We ask James Field, from the very British institution, Debretts, for a lesson in how to eat in polite company. (Photo: Food at Lalibela restaurant in London)
25/06/1626m 29s

Seeds, Syrup and Subversion

A rebel grandmother faces losing her livelihood after smuggling maple syrup in Canada, a Vermont gardener stocks fridges full of seeds, an artist plants vegetables on the streets of Los Angeles, and a widow in India blames ‘foreign seeds’ for a string of suicides. Meet the rebels and revolutionaries fighting back against what some see as a growing food dictatorship. Just six companies sell almost two-thirds of the world's seeds, and potential takeovers raise the possibility that number could shrink to three. Are we heading towards a world where all seeds, fertiliser, and pesticides are in the hands of just one company? We are joined by experts from both sides of the debate as we listen to stories of subversion. (Photo: An Indian farmer arranges a display of grains and seeds. Credit: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)
18/06/1626m 29s

Faster Food

As the Olympic torch edges closer to Rio, we explore how food can make you a better athlete. We start in Brazil where we meet the man responsible for feeding the best athletes on the planet - from a kitchen the size of three football fields. Our producer has a kick about with Arsenal Football Club’s nutritionist in London, and we talk to Olympians past and present about what they eat. We delve into the science of nutrigenomics and ask whether you can give athletes an edge by designing their diets around their DNA. At what point does a specialist diet give an athlete an unfair advantage? And what do nutritionists and athletes really think about sports drinks? Plus, a man moves his family to the Kenyan highlands to train and eat with its highland runners. And, a New York punk singer and vegan Ironman tells us why he thinks strong athletes do not need meat. (Photo: Athletes running through a field. Credit: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images)
11/06/1626m 28s

Extreme Farming

How has one of the world’s smallest countries become one of its biggest food producers? This week we visit a tiny nation responsible for the second largest exports of farmed food. Its vegetable, fruit, and livestock farmers are pushing the limits of productivity – how do they get so much food out of so little land? We visit a dairy farm run almost entirely by robots, one of the country’s many industrial-sized greenhouses, and a farm on the roof of a former factory. With the planet’s soaring population, could this country be a model for global farming? Plus, what impact is such intensive farming having on the environment, human health and animal welfare? Presenter: Anna Holligan. Editor: Simon Tulett
04/06/1626m 29s

Is Junk Food the New Smoking?

We know that both smoking and obesity can contribute to an early death. In fact health professionals are now telling us that junk food is even worse than tobacco. But do the parallels between the two industries run deeper than that? They have both been accused of cynical marketing, powerful lobbying and trying to avoid regulation. Some people have even suggested big food is taking a leaf from the big tobacco playbook. Manuela Saragosa asks whether junk food is the new smoking.
28/05/1626m 28s

Fish Fight

Fish are a vital source of protein around the world, but there are ever more fishermen chasing ever fewer fish. Most wild fisheries are at, or near, breaking point and it is estimated up to a third of all fish are caught illegally, feeding an underworld of crime. We find out how the growing pressure is leading to violent clashes on the high seas and joins an Indonesian coastguard patrol chasing and shooting vessels out of their waters. We ask Interpol how it is trying to police the oceans and find out how illegal fishing is tied up with a criminal underworld of drugs and human trafficking. Plus, experts tell us what consumers should look out for, and we discover fish farming may not be the answer to the problem. (Photo: The Indonesian Navy blows up the illegal fishing vessel the MV Viking in the waters of Tanjung, West Java, 2016. Credit: Antara Foto, Reuters)
21/05/1626m 29s

A Dog's Dinner?

Pet food is a global multi-billion dollar industry, but does it cater more to us humans than our four-legged friends? We swap the dinner plate for the dog bowl to find out what we feed our furry companions, and why. We examine the pet food supply chain and find out how intertwined it is with our own, both in terms of raw materials and regulation. And with pet obesity and diabetes increasing in many parts of the world, we ask if we have passed on our own bad eating habits and talk to those trying to reverse the trend. We also hear from a vet on the scientific advisory board for Nestle, the world's second largest pet food manufacturer. Plus, what do a 19th Century electrician and a sailor's biscuit have to do with modern day pet food. And, from raw food to dog bakeries, we bring you the very latest in pet palette trends, including a taste-test of the most exclusive dog treats available on the market. (Photo: Dog with food bowl. Credit: Thinkstock)
14/05/1626m 29s

Disaster Food: Feeding a Country in Crisis

How does a country feed itself following an earthquake, flood or drought? The Food Chain looks at the role of food in disaster relief - from the emergency response to the longer-term efforts to restore devastated farmland. We speak to Nepal's farmers to hear how they coped in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake. An aid worker scrambled to Kathmandu tells us how the World Food Programme hired 25,000 mountaineers to deliver food to remote communities cut off by the disaster. We go behind the scenes at a leading supplier of emergency food, Nutriset, which makes peanut paste and milk products for malnourished children and adults around the world. Plus, how agriculture bears the brunt of the economic damage caused by natural disasters, but receives a tiny proportion of aid funding - the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations tells us the balance must be redressed. And when food aid can do more harm than good - we hear how farmers in Haiti are angry about US plans to send 500 tonnes of surplus peanuts to help the country recover from a three-year drought, and how prime agricultural land was lost in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. (Photo: A Nepalese earthquake survivor in front of a destroyed farm. Credit: Philippe Lopez, Getty Images)
07/05/1626m 29s

Bottled Water: Do We Really Need It?

It has been described as the ultimate marketing trick, but the allure of bottled water is something more and more people are swallowing. With global sales set to overtake those of soda, The Food Chain asks why so many of us are paying for something we could easily get for free. With prices of some bottles hundreds of times more expensive than the tap we visit a water testing lab to see if there is any difference between them. The industry claims it offers a healthier alternative to soda drinks, but opponents say it causes unnecessary environmental damage. We find out how bottled water is coming under attack in drought-stricken California, and whether the criticisms are fair. In parts of the world where safe drinking water is difficult or impossible to come by, can bottled water be a lifesaver? We have a report from Tanzania's capital, Dar es Salaam. Plus, we speak to Marco Settembri, head of Nestle Waters, one of the world's biggest water bottling firms. (Photo: A man stores bottles at a warehouse in Afghanistan. Credit: Noorullah Shirzada, Getty Images)
30/04/1626m 29s

Eating With Our Ears: The Sound of Food

How does sound influence the way we eat, drink and taste? We discover our hearing makes a bigger contribution to flavour than we think. Mike Johnson explores the concept of 'sonic seasoning' - the idea that different sounds can accentuate the sweetness, bitterness or spiciness of food. Chef Jozef Youssef, founder of the multi-sensory dining experience Kitchen Theory, serves up a musical food experiment, and Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, gives his track recommendations. From the crunch of a crisp to the background music in a restaurant, we examine the science that links our ears and taste buds with a journey into the brain flavour network. Plus, how the food and drink industry is cashing in on the selling power of sound - we speak to branding expert Martin Lindstrom about his painstaking work with some of the world's biggest fizzy drink manufacturers. Also, could the concept of sonic seasoning be used in the battle against diabetes and obesity? (Photo: Apple and headphones. Credit: LdF, Thinkstock. Soundscapes credit: Condiment Junkie)
23/04/1626m 28s

Animals on Antibiotics: Could Pigs on Pills Make us Ill?

The animals we eat consume more than 60% of the world’s antibiotics - but not always because they are sick. This week, the Food Chain explores the controversy over the use of antibiotics in agriculture to promote growth and prevent illness. Amid dire warnings that we are heading into a dangerous new world of resistance to antibiotics, we ask whether there really is a link between their use on farms and human resistance. From large scale agricultural businesses in China, to small scale farmers in Africa, presenter Mike Johnson hears from both sides of the debate. Dr Brian Evans from the World Organisation for Animal Health explains how the amount of antibiotics given to animals varies from country to country, and is proving hard to regulate. Pig farmer Jonathan Aganga in Nigeria - with his bag of antibiotics at his side - tells us why he believes they're essential for his livelihood. We also hear from Professor Yanzhong Huang, an expert on public health in China and whose brother is a pig farmer in Jiangsu province. Plus we visit a busy London food market, to hear what consumers make of the controversy. Presented by Mike Johnson, produced by Emily Thomas. (Photo: Piglets at Jonathan Aganga's farm, Nigeria)
16/04/1626m 29s

Food Chain Late Night

As part of the BBC’s Identity season we meet the people who feed us after hours, following the characters and cuisines that only come out after dark. Starting with the heady rush of a London kebab shop, Mike Johnson explores late night food culture around the globe. In an increasingly 24-hour world, how and when we eat is changing. What do our late night food habits say about our identities? We meet the late-night taco eaters of Mexico City, and find out why Hong Kong street vendors are under threat. Plus we hear what happens to your body when your meal times are out of sync with your circadian rhythms, and tell you where in the world you can buy an edible Rolex for forty-five cents. Night-owls only, on this episode of The Food Chain. Presented by Mike Johnson, produced by Emily Thomas, and edited by Kent DePinto. (Photo: Taco vendor Alfredo works late into the night in Mexico City. Credit: James Fredrick)
09/04/1626m 29s

Front of House

What’s life like for a career waiter at the top of their game? The Food Chain looks at the business of serving and pleasing the ever-fickle customer. The food service industry is facing a cycle of disruption, with business practices changing as rapidly as the customers at lunch hour. We'll look at the current topic du jour - the controversy of tipping and how a movement to democratize the service industry may leave some minimum wage earners struggling to keep up. Manuela Saragosa contemplates the financial realities of life as a waiter – and how tipping your server may actually make them poorer in the long run. Also, we talk to a chef who decided to eliminate tipping when she realised the people serving the food were making more than those cooking it. And would you pay for a reservation? This week, the tables are literally being turned. Presented by Manuela Saragosa. Produced by Kent DePinto and Emily Thomas. (Photo: A waitress in Nantes, France. Credit: Getty Images/ Frank Perry.)
02/04/1626m 28s

Food and Nostalgia

Manuela Saragosa explores the power food has to evoke memory and how memory impacts the food we eat. Jamie Oliver’s mentor – Italian chef Gennaro Contaldo – cooks up a batch of his most nostalgic dish, his mama’s pasta, and tell us why he prepares it when he is feeling down. A neurologist explains why food and smells have such a powerful impact on our brains. And, find out why ‘brand nostalgia’ is a marketing dream when it comes to getting people to part with their cash. From Tokyo to Moscow via Nairobi we hear stories about your favourite comfort foods and meet the company using nostalgia to help people with dementia regain their appetites. Finally, we travel down under to find out why a humble collection of children’s birthday cake recipes has been dubbed ‘the greatest Australian book ever published.’ (Photo: Children receiving free meals. Credit: Getty Images)
26/03/1626m 29s

Is Convenience Killing Us?

Food that has been processed, packaged, flavoured and often pre-cooked for us has increasingly become a normal part of everyday life around the globe. But what is the rise and rise of convenience food really doing to us? Many argue it is the root cause of spiralling obesity and diabetes rates, but could we survive without it and feed the world in the process? Manuela Saragosa chews over the issues with a global panel of experts: Award-winning investigative journalist Joanna Blythman, author of Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry's Darkest Secrets; Jean-Claude Moubarac, an anthropologist and researcher in nutrition specialising in the effect of processed foods; Food journalist Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor. Plus, we travel to China to look at the cultural impact of ‘western’ food. And, historian Rachel Laudan tells us why processed food is at the very heart of what makes us human. (Photo: Supermarket aisles. Credit: Thinkstock)
19/03/1626m 29s

Food Waste: How Low Can it Go?

This week, the Food Chain delves deep into food waste: a global problem of epic proportions that is costing one in every three of the world's calories. In January 2016, France became the very first country to ban supermarkets from destroying or throwing away unsold food. It was all thanks to the vision of one man: Arash Derambarsh. He tells Manuela Saragosa how he did it and why the rest of the world should follow suit. But, when it comes to waste: who is the main culprit along the food chain? And what can be done to turn the tide? We speak to Kenyan vegetable producers on the challenge of coping with last minute order changes from Supermarkets and review a high-tech solution from South Korea that has seen food waste drop by up to 40%. We ask food giant Nestle what the role of big business should be and a start-up entrepreneur tells us why food waste is a “modern day gold rush”. And what about you and me? Is an attitude problem amongst consumers the biggest hurdle to overcome? We explore consumer psychology from ‘ugly vegetables'’ to convincing the French to use 'doggy bags'. Image: Leftover food, Credit: Thinkstock
12/03/1626m 29s

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?

From power lunches to 'desktop dining', we unpick the relationship between food and the workplace. We trace how industrialisation played its part in forging the origins of the modern lunch break and how employers began using food as a way to control their workforce. We take a trip back to 19th Century New York where a swelling labour force gave rise to the 'Quick Lunch' - the precursor to the fast-food we know and love today. Google's very first executive chef reveals the secrets of Silicon Valley’s canteen culture and how he fulfilled his brief to "keep people on campus all the time" with his food. Plus, we ask what the humble pre-packed sandwich can teach us about changing attitudes to women, work and convenience. Manuela Saragosa tracks down the BBC's most loyal lunch lovers and spends an afternoon with fire fighters in London who are living proof of the theory that colleagues that eat together perform better as a team. Plus, we put together a handy guide of 'desktop dining' dos and don'ts to safely navigate you through your lunch hour. (Photo: A man eating at his desk looking at his laptop scrren. Credit: Thinkstock)
05/03/1626m 26s

Food, Power and Punishment

Nothing to eat but stale bread and water - an enduring image of incarceration, but what part should food play in punishment? In America, the 'Nutraloaf' - a compressed food-stuff with just enough calories to keep you alive - has been used for decades to punish prisoners in solitary confinement, but many say it contravenes even the most basic human rights. Manuela Saragosa speaks to the man who brought a class action against the state of New York to get it banned. Plus, a prison dietician tells us about the difficulty of planning a nutritious daily menu on a budget of just $2.30 per day. Food can also play a vital role in rehabilitation and help recreate a sense of normality. We hear from the Dutch prison using nutrition to appease violent behaviour, and find out about The Clink Restaurant - a dining experience with a twist. We get a lesson from a former convict on the challenging art of prison cooking. Finally, when all freedom has been taken from you, how the refusal of food can become a powerful political weapon. Featuring: Daniel Genis: Journalist, writer, ex-convict Heather Ann Thompson: Mass incarceration historian, Michigan University Taylor Pendergrass: New York Civil Liberties Union Barbara Wakeen: Prison nutritionist Ap Zaalberg: Dutch Ministry of Justice Dr Sarah Campbell: Professor of Irish and British history, Newcastle University Al Crisci: Creator of the Clink Restaurant (Photo: Hands behind bars. Credit: Thinkstock)
27/02/1626m 29s

The Truth About Diabetes

Over 347 million people worldwide have diabetes, and that figure is set to rise to half a billion in the next 20 years. It is a disease that is spiralling out of control, but how did we get here and who is to blame? The BBC’s Anu Anand and a panel of experts unpick some of the major issues in the diabetes debate from ‘sin taxes’ for food companies to the role of culture and race. Plus they answers questions from listeners around the world about how to prevent and live with the illness. Contributors: Hank Cardello - Director Obesity Solutions Initiative, The Hudson Institute Dr. Aseem Malhotra - Cardiologist and co-founder Action on Sugar Dr. Gojka Roglic - WHO Diabetes Programme
06/02/1626m 28s

Down with 'Foodies'?

Is being cool a sign of culinary class? In the autumn of 2015 the Cereal Killer café in East London was attacked by protestors. They viewed it as a symbol of rapid gentrification - arguing that the cafe- which serves cereal from around the world- exemplified the rising inequality in the UK's capital. It led to some basic questions about running a food business. And the tensions between what’s trendy, what’s traditional and what’s affordable when it comes to eating out. But a larger discussion, about conspicuous consumerism and the so- called ‘foodie movement’ looms. In this programme from London, Sarah Stolarz explores the intersections of city living, being upwardly mobile and the pursuit of the next best meal. We look at food trends and their irresistible appeal when it comes to social media- although it turns out, no one actually likes to be called a 'foodie'. Is access to new and varied food becoming more democratic, or are social media sites glossing over the surface of the culinary class wars? And what does that have to do with the price of pineapples? Featuring: Alan Keery: Co-Owner, Cereal Killer Café Josėe Johnston: Author, 'Food, Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape' Polly Russell: Curator at the British Library @ClerkenwellBoyEc1 David Sax: Author of 'The Tastemakers: Why we're crazy for cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue' Photo: multi-coloured macaroons, Credit: Thinkstock
12/12/1526m 29s

Breast Practice

As part of the BBC's 100 Women season, The Food Chain dedicates an episode to working mothers and how they feed their babies. More women are entering the global workforce, and many of them become mothers at a crucial point in their careers. But with the availability of parental leave as variable as there are countries in the world, many women must return to work while their child is still nursing. Meanwhile, the WHO says that a woman should exclusively breastfeed her child up to six months of age. So, how do you juggle the demands of feeding a baby with a working life? We'll hear about a project in Bangladesh that helps garment factory workers continue to breastfeed their babies, and we visit Indonesia where a taxi service exists to ferry breast milk from working mothers to waiting infants at home. And from Hong Kong to Ivory Coast, Manuela Saragosa reunites our panel of BBC correspondents - who are also working mothers - to discuss the challenges of reporting on their patch and pumping milk. Image: Baby breastfeeding, Credit: Thinkstock Featuring: Dr. Larry Grummer-Strawn, World Health Organization Phyllis Rippey, Professor of Sociology at the University of Ottawa Micaela Collins, University of Toronto Janet Golden, Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Jersey Karishma Vaswani, BBC Asia Business Correspondent Juliana Liu, BBC Hong Kong Correspondent Tamasin Ford, BBC Ivory Coast Correspondent
28/11/1526m 29s


Nearly every major city in the world has one- a district where Chinese immigrants have settled to live, work and eat. This week in a collaboration with BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Food Programme’, Dan Saladino takes you on a tour of Chinatowns around the world. From one of the oldest, in Manila, to one of the newest, in Johannesburg- Chinatowns create a global trail of economic and culinary influence. And the food that they serve reflects not only the tastes of home, but of the adopted countries. In this programme we ask how these urban communities reflect not only the history of Chinese immigration, but the changing role of China as a global power. Including visits to Havana, to look at the legacy of communism in a Chinatown that rarely serves Chinese food, and Shanghai, where the fortune cookie - a westernized version of Chinese cuisine is finding a new market at home. Featuring: Fuchsia Dunlop Jennifer 8. Lee Peter Kwong Chan Chow Wah Gerry Choo-ah James Wong With reporting from: Vivienne Nunis Celia Hatton and Maria Byrne Victoria Phenethi Will Grant Photo: Gates of Chinatown, Credit: Thinkstock
21/11/1526m 29s

Back of House

It can be a tough life in the pressure cooker of the professional kitchen. A restaurant is a crucible of creativity, heat, and long hours. Low entry level wages often twinned with culinary college debt can make it hard for would-be cooks to stand the financial heat. In London, Simon Jack sits down with four chefs - all at different stages in their career - to discuss the most pressing issues of the culinary age. We put everything on the table, from the current chef shortage to the changing dynamic between a restaurant's cooking staff and its serving staff, and the pressures of staying on top of the fine dining game. (Photo: Restaurant kitchen and two staff)
14/11/1526m 27s

Food Far From Home

The biggest refugee crisis since World War Two continues to intensify and once the treacherous journey to physical safety is complete, refugees have to contend with the next imperative for survival: how to get their next meal. We hear tales from the front line - from the informal efforts of volunteers on the Greek island of Lesbos to the more formally run Zaatari camp in Jordan. In Greece, newly arrived refugees tell how they were too scared to eat on the boat journey from Turkey. We hear how the humble banana has become a symbol of salvation and the source of a mounting rubbish problem. Then to Zaatari – arguably Jordan’s fourth largest city- where world agencies are trying to feed each person on about $30 a month and the question of future funding looms. And from Damascus to Bogotá - how a mother and son share their recipes over the phone in order to stay connected.
31/10/1530m 6s

Food of War

What are the challenges of finding the next meal in times of war? Feeding an army is a giant exercise in logistics, and it is also a testing ground for the food business. We hear how the food technology developed for soldiers in the field has made its way to our plates today. We speak to a soldier who has lived through three generations of military rations about how the type of food issued to troops can indicate the mission in store for them. Plus, we hear first-hand stories from people working in conflict zones, from aid workers struggling to get emergency rations into war-torn Syria, to our own BBC correspondents. (Photo: Members of Royal Air Force Three Mobile Catering Squadron)
12/09/1526m 29s

India: How to Feed a Nation

Can the world’s largest democracy guarantee its citizens the right to their next meal? As part of the BBC India season, The Food Chain takes a deeper look at the challenges and changes within the Indian food system. The population is set to become the world’s largest by 2022, surpassing China. But many obstacles to food remain, falling along the entire spectrum of development. From severe malnourishment in children to the race to get food off the farm before it rots, Anu Anand explores several aspects of a nation trying to keep up with the appetites of a rapidly changing society. Photo Credit: Handing out food in India, Getty Images
05/09/1526m 29s

India: Faith, Food, and Politics

How food, identity, religion, and politics are changing the way India eats. Anu Anand visits Mumbai’s biggest slaughterhouse to assess the economic impact of a total ban on beef and explores the right of an individual to choose what they eat in the world's largest democracy. Plus, we visit a holy town that is seeking to become fully vegetarian, leaving some of its residents feeling unwelcome.
29/08/1526m 29s

Food of Love

From a baby’s first cry to the funeral feast: food as the language of love. This week, the Food Chain examines the link between our food and our feelings. Why, in times of high emotion do we tend to give and receive food? And why is the compulsion to care for others through preparing and sharing food a part of all cultures? We look at the science behind craving childhood comfort foods and hear your personal stories. Plus can all that generosity pose a physical risk to our well-being? Featured voices: Elisabeth Mahoney: Baker Jeni Barnett: Broadcaster Hewete Haileselassie: BBC Africa Lizzie Mabbot: author of China Town Kitchen Peymane Adab: Professor of Public Health at the University of Birmingham Carol Landau: Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Brown University. John S. Allen: author of The Omnivorous Mind Colm O'Regan: Comedian (Photo: Heart-shaped strawberry. Credit: Thinkstock)
15/08/1526m 29s

Chicken: Too Much of a Good Thing?

We explore one of the world’s most important foods - the chicken. It is set to become the world’s most popular protein in four years time, surpassing pork. But does our taste for our favourite bird put our lives at risk? We discuss how poultry farmers are becoming increasingly embattled as highly contagious strains of avian flu continue to spread across the world. And we explore the genetic journey the a jungle bird from south east Asia took to our universal plate- via an American supermarket contest. Featured voices: Andrew Lawler: author Why the Chicken Crossed the World John Oxford: Emeritus Professor of Virology at the University of London Abou Simbel Ouattara: Egg farmer, Burkina Faso Lee Perry-Gal: University of Haifa Wesley Batista, CEO JBS S.A (Photo: Chickens being farmed. Credit: Thinkstock)
14/08/1526m 26s

How to (Not) Grow Your Food Business

Do you have a family recipe that friends say you should bottle and sell? Simon Jack looks at how you can grow a food business from scratch, how to choose an investor wisely, and how to ready your kitchen-cooked product to sell to the masses. Is growth in the food business simple economics - supply and demand - or is it something more intangible? We ask if a food business can stay small and still survive. As a company begins to supply more food to a wider market, how can you keep their commitment to quality, without having to sacrifice quantity. Plus, we look at how micro-brews are a microcosm of buying and selling on the bigger market. (Photo: Conveyor belt of bottled beer. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
20/06/1526m 29s

Sexual Politics in the Kitchen

How does our gender affect our relationship with food? Does it determine what we want to eat, how we cook or what we buy? And as gender roles change, how too are the traditional roles for men and women changing when it comes to food? We speak to renowned food campaigner and feminist Susie Orbach, retailer Andrew Opie and chef turned whole-food campaigner Michel Nischan about how food is marketed to women and about the gender stereotypes still prevalent. We talk to two Michelin starred female chefs about sexism in the professional kitchen. We visit Mauritania to hear about traditional gender roles in the fishing industry there and we get an insight into the 1970s idea of what constitutes 'masculine' food by taking a glance back at Playboy, with food historian Polly Russell. (Photo: Michelin-starred French chef Helene Darroze in the kitchen. Credit: Jean-Pierre Muller/AFP/Getty Images)
13/06/1526m 29s

The End of Eating Wild Fish?

Most of the food we eat - beef chicken, wheat, apples, corn - is farmed on the land, produced under controlled conditions and transported to market rather than gathered from its natural habitat. But one source of the world’s protein is still taken straight from the wild. Fish and other sea food. That's now changing, but should it? This week The Food Chain has a special programme about the ocean, and the meals we take from it. Tanya Beckett reports from Lisbon where world leaders are meeting to discuss the oceans' economic fate, while Audrey Tinline is in Norway asking whether fish can ever be a truly sustainable source of food.
06/06/1526m 29s

How Do We Know What’s Good For Us?

Why is food advice so confusing? Up for debate is the role of fat in our diet. Adrian Golberg takes a look at the methods behind determining what food is good for us and what food is bad for us, and asking why is it so hard to be certain. He speaks to Nina Teicholz, who tells the story of Ancel Keys, the researcher whose work laid the foundation for many dietary guidelines today, as well as Gary Taubes, a journalist who wants to improve the way nutritional studies are carried out. Ayela Spiro of the British Nutrition Foundation says that nutrition, like all science, is ever evolving, and not always exact. (Photo: Woman holds up a hamburger in one hand and an apple in the other. Credit: Thinstock)
30/05/1526m 29s

Spice and Status

A deeper look at the global network of commerce that comes with the flavouring of our food. Marnie Chesterton visits the UK's Kew Gardens, and gets a better understanding of the horticulture behind many of the world’s most popular spice plants. Simon Jack tries to understand the appeal of competitive eating when it comes to heat, sampling some hot sauce made with the Naga Viper chilli. Plus, we hear about the business behind growing the world’s hottest chilli pepper. And, Polly Russell of The British Library reads through one of the oldest recipe scrolls in modern English to show us how spices were used in the courts of kings.
23/05/1526m 29s

Coffee: Globalisation’s Drink of Choice

How the coffee industry is changing for growers, sellers, and consumers around the world. This week's programme follows in pursuit of a widely traded commodity- meeting connoisseurs from every part of the coffee chain, from the picking of the coffee cherry to the very last sip. Coffee is not an industry without its challenges. Small farmers are threatened by external factors like climate change and are subject to price volatility on the open markets. Maud Jullien reports from Burundi, a country trying to market itself towards niche coffee markets amidst political turmoil. Then in Colombia, Arturo Wallace meets a real life marketing mascot in the form of a farmer portraying Juan Valdez, the symbol of the Colombian coffee brand and speaks to the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos. And Shalu Yadav is in India exploring how an aspirational class is setting aside their tea in favour of something stronger. Plus, how many cups a week is too much?
16/05/1526m 29s

Fighting Food Crime

We meet some of the people fighting food fraud around the world. Manuela Saragosa asks what risks the consumer faces when they buy food that has reached super-market shelves via a complicated global supply chain, and speaks to some of the people working to improve the traceability of our food. We meet the 'wine police' asked to investigate the origins of a $26,000 bottle of Petrus. Also, the leader of the 'flying squad' of the Danish Food Administration talks about what happens when the food company you are investigating only has a mailbox for an address. Plus, tracing food at an atomic level - how a new method for detecting food fraud has its origins in crime scene investigations. (Photo: From left, a bottle 1990 Bordeaux's Chateau Petrus, a 1996 Le Montrachet Grand Cru, a 1989 Musigny Grand Cru, a 1985 La Romanee and a bottle of 1986 Chateau d'Yquem of 1986. Credit: Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)
27/03/1526m 29s

Picky Eaters

Why won’t your kid eat broccoli? And should you bother to force them? We ask whether children need a different diet, do their palates differ, and whether they should be given more say in what they eat. This week, the BBC has been handing over microphones, recording equipment, studios and air time to children, as part of an annual event called School Report - where children take control. We hear from reporters at a school in Washington DC, about the tricky task of providing healthy meals, when the children do not like them. Manuela Saragosa speaks to Dr Jackie Blissett about neophobia - and the evolutionary reason why children become picky eaters. And Amy Bentley, author of Inventing Baby Food gives us a potted history of potted baby food. Plus, a panel of teenagers takeover the studio, to share their food likes and dislikes (Picture: Child eating vegetable soup Credit: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)
20/03/1526m 29s

Eating For Two?

What do snails, tamarind and parsley all have in common? They are all foods that - according to World Service followers on twitter- pregnant women have been told to avoid around the world. We explore the prenatal diet, and ask whether the advice that pregnant women receive about what they should eat is based not only on medical understanding, but cultural understanding as well. The Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944 was a famine that killed thousands. But this tragedy provided a study group - babies who were starved in the womb - who are studied for life long health changes. From them, we learn that what our grandmothers eat may have consequences for us. We discuss what happens if you go through pregnancy when you are living in a culture different to the one in which you were raised. We look at how personalised nutrition will customise pregnant mothers' diets in the future, and we hear how an Indian initiative is combatting maternal malnutrition by feeding mothers fortified samosas, not vitamins. (Photo: Belarussian women attend an annual parade for pregnant women in central Minsk. Credit: Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty Images)
13/03/1526m 29s

Farm and Fortune?

The origins of our food can be scrutinised, analysed, inspected, and disrupted but the production of what we eat ultimately lies with the farmer. But is modern farming a viable career choice? And what happens when the youngest generation no longer wants to farm? Manuela Saragosa examines life on the farm, what it takes to be a farmer and the changing state of agriculture. Journalist Jesse Hirsch joins in to offer his step-by-step guide to the trials and tribulations of working the land. And we hear from the Ugandan farmer who wants to entice young people away from cities and back onto the farm to make a living. Plus, comedian Colm O’Regan explains why there is a big difference between growing up on a farm and actually being a farmer.
06/03/1526m 29s

Should the Government Pay for our Food?

Does the government have a duty to feed us? Or should we each look after our own table? Angela Saini looks at the controversies behind handing out to the world's hungry citizens. In Egypt, where the price and availability of bread is a political issue, the government has introduced a new smart card system to avoid long queues and fights outside bakeries. We hear from the remote region of Canada where shops charge residents $28 for a cabbage or $200 for a turkey. Plus, we look at both sides of the American food stamp debate, with politicians arguing over whether food welfare means vitality or dependency.
27/02/1526m 29s

Tech at the Table

Is technology at mealtimes too disruptive? The BBC's Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones joins The Food Chain for dinner and talks about what happened the week he took his culinary habits to Twitter. We get some insight into how our eating behaviour changes once a gadget is placed in front of us. Angela Saini hears about a fork that can monitor when you've had enough, and asks whether a computer can come up with a better recipe than a human. Plus, we hear from you on whether it's rude to bring your phone to the table.
20/02/1526m 29s

Eat my words!

How much does the way food is described influence what we eat? Superstar apple breeder David Bedford tells us why he spends up to nine months finding the perfect name for his new creations. Can words be too enticing? We hear the story of the humble Patagonian toothfish, whose re-branding success story nearly led to its extinction. President of the Gourmand World Cookbook awards Edouard Cointreau takes us on a tour of the seemingly insatiable global market for cookbooks. But has our love for writing about food gone too far? Language specialist Steven Poole tells presenter Angela Saini why some restaurant menu jargon infuriates him. Plus food writer Fuschia Dunlop shares her reflections on Chinese menus that attract diners with such adjectives as 'slimy', 'gristly' and 'glutinous'.
13/02/1526m 29s

Dinner for One

Is there a penalty for eating alone? Do you take a hit to your wallet, your social life and even your health by dining solo? Sociologist Eric Klinenberg reveals that eating alone is the greatest hurdle for otherwise happy single dwellers. Presenter Manuela Saragosa tests this by taking a table at the Dutch solo-diner only restaurant, Eenmaal. Eating alone means you eat differently. The figures show there’s a huge increase in food designed for one. It costs more but the growing band of solo eaters are prepared to pay a premium for the extra convenience. We visit Liverpool University’s eating behaviour laboratory, kitted out with hidden technologies which unpick how we eat. Plus we hear why, in South Korea, people are being paid to eat over the internet.
09/02/1526m 29s

The Cold Chain

Where does the food in your fridge come from and how did it get there? More than likely it made its way along the cold chain - the refrigerated transport of food and drink around the world. As part of the BBC World Service's special series called Fridgenomics, The Food Chain looks into the wider networks at play when it comes to getting fresh food to your plate. Manuela Saragosa experiences minus 24 degrees Celsius at the London Gateway port to see how chilled food coming in from abroad is stored and inspected. We also hear about one man's efforts to implement his own cold chain in Tanzania. Plus, refrigeration has come a long way, from Icelandic traders using salt, to compressing liquids into gas. But what effect does our demand for chilled or frozen out-of-season food have on our environment and our diets?
30/01/1526m 29s

Variety Pack

Simon Jack brings you tales of making more from what we have already got - be that using plant protein to make eggless mayonnaise or harvesting energy from crop by-product like straw. In Lesotho they are using their abundance of freshwater to farm trout for Japanese sushi. But there is a spot of indulgence on the programme too. Simon speaks to Dunkin’ Donuts CEO Nigel Travis, who says they offer healthy options, and we hear about the growing appetite for craft beer in South Korea.
09/01/1526m 29s

Sugar: A Love-Hate Relationship

On average we consume some 27 kilos of sugar every year - and that figure is on the rise. But is that a good thing, or is sugar the root cause of many of the world's biggest, not-so-sweet, health concerns? Ed Butler speaks to professor Robert Lustig, who is leading the fight against sugar, and gets a response from Sugar Nutrition UK. We go to Berkeley, California where a tax on sugary drinks has just been implemented. And we hear from a couple who rowed from California to Hawaii on a sugar-free diet.
02/01/1526m 29s


Audrey Tinline looks at the political and economic history behind having a great big meal with a large group of people. We find out what happens to your body when you eat too much: the science of over-eating.We look at how festive food has been used as a hallmark of social and political dominance - beginning with how it came to feature so prominently in still life art. And how the recipe for a the British Christmas pudding was hijackaed as a stealth marketing tool for the Empire.
26/12/1426m 28s

Food Technophobes v Technophiles

Who should decide whether a food-related technology is safe? We hear from Mike Mack, CEO of Syngenta, one of the world’s biggest agri-businesses and from Bart Staes, food spokesperson for the European Parliament's Greens Group. We look at the science behind crop farming, from genetically modified crops to pesticides. Professor Ottoline Leyser, director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University, explains how exactly a crop is genetically modified. And could some types of pesticides be harming bees? Are you a food technophobe or technophile? We get views from across the globe, from Nairobi to New York, on the best way for science to help feed the world.
05/12/1426m 29s

Whose Food is it Anyway?

Does food maintain its national identity once it's cooked abroad? We'll look at why a recipe by chef Jamie Oliver for Jollof rice has many West Africans talking about their culinary heritage. Also,can you patent a recipe? We look at the relationship between intellectual property and food, and whether our food is for sharing or protecting. And how Parmigiano Reggiano may play a part in holding up EU- US trade talks.
28/11/1426m 29s

Food and the Fall of the Berlin Wall

As politics changes does our food follow suit? We hear how food tastes and names have altered according to the politics of the day. Mangalitsa for example - a type of hairy pig - fell out of favour in communist times in Hungary, but is now back on the menu as a premium dish. In China Kung Po chicken became known as Hongbao Jiding or Hula Jiding during the Cultural Revolution because it originally derived its name from an imperial official. And 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Domklause restaurant in the DDR museum is serving up food from an era when the city was divided.
14/11/1426m 28s

Why Do We Waste So Much Food?

About a third of what’s produced for human consumption isn’t eaten. We look at why the food we grow doesn’t always make it to our plate. It's not just the leftovers from a big meal. There are many ways that food gets wasted along the supply chain: the wheat that escapes the thresher, the apple that rolls off the truck on the way to the factory, or the tomatoes that rot while they are waiting to be sold. In emerging markets like China and India, attitudes toward food waste are changing. Elsewhere new technology is being developed to keep our food lasting longer.
07/11/1426m 29s

Super Foods or Super Fads?

Kale, quinoa, chia, blueberries, all members of a group of foods that have been around for a while, but have seen a sudden surge in global popularity. These so-called super foods are touted for their health benefits, but does their popularity stem from genuine science or robust marketing? Many super foods are grown in developing countries but have seen a rising popularity among consumers in the global north. Angela Saini explores what happens to a country when the local superfood becomes a global superstar.
31/10/1426m 29s
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