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.

Episodes

The burrito story

Ruth Alexander explores the origins and evolution of the humble grab-and-go food the burrito, which started life in northern Mexico, before crossing over into the US and becoming a hit around the world. Versions of the spicy wrap can be enjoyed in restaurants, street food shacks and supermarket home meal kits all over the world. We explore the burrito’s contested origins, find out why some Mexican food purists dislike the popular menu item and ask what the future holds for it, and the cuisine more broadly. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: a burrito in a restaurant in Juarez, Mexico. Credit: Vianey Alderete Contreras/BBC)Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Sam Clack. Additional reporting by Vianey Alderete Contreras in Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, United States.
22/05/2426m 29s

Can beef be carbon neutral?

Cows emit greenhouse gases when they eat, which contributes to global warming. But is it possible to produce meat in a climate-friendly way? Grace Livingstone visits a carbon neutral certified ranch in Uruguay, where farm manager Sebastian Olaso shows her around. She also meets Javier Secadas, a small farmer who raises cattle on natural grasslands, and agronomist Ignacio Paparamborda, from the University of the Republic in Montevideo.Grace hears from Pete Smith, Professor of Soils and Global Change at the University of Aberdeen, and Dominik Wisser, Livestock Policy Officer, from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation. She tries to find out if it is possible to produce meat in a way that is both good for nature and the climate. Or whether we need to stop eating meat to cut emissions.Presenter/Producer: Grace Livingstone (Image: Cows grazing in Uruguay. Credit: Getty Images)
15/05/2426m 29s

Eat with your hands

Why eat with your hands? Many food cultures around the world eat using hands, and most of us use our hands some of the time. Do we really need cutlery or chopsticks to eat a salad, peas or rice? And if you were to tackle soup or stew with your hands, how would you go about it? Michael Kaloki reports from Nairobi, Kenya, where the staple dish ugali, made from maize flour, is traditionally eaten by hand. Michael has observed that people increasingly use cutlery to eat the dish, and he speaks to restaurateurs and customers about why that might be, and what might be lost. Ruth Alexander learns about the etiquette of eating by hand with food writer and consultant Karen Anand in India. And Ruth explores whether food might be more enjoyable, and even taste better, when eaten by hand. Psychologist Professor Charles Spence from Oxford University, and chef Jozef Youssef of Kitchen Theory in the UK share their research. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. Reporting by Michael Kaloki in Nairobi, Kenya. (Image: a man’s hands, pulling apart a sweet cake wrapped in dough, with sauce on his hands. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)
08/05/2430m 31s

Can I eat this flower?

Stunning cakes, colourful salads and intricate garnishes use flowers to entice customers, but there’s more to this trend than just beautiful social media pictures. Many cultures around the world have eaten flowers for centuries, and some of them pack a serious punch. Devina Gupta explores the history of edible flowers and visits a site in the UK where they’re grown all year round. She gets quite a shock when trying one particular variety. We find out why flowers are used on food nowadays, and how generations of knowledge about their use and properties were lost when they were brought to Western countries. If you would like to get in touch with the programme, email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk. Presented by Devina Gupta Produced by Julia Paul and Beatrice Pickup (Image: A nasturtium flower growing. Credit: BBC)
01/05/2426m 28s

To salt or not to salt?

Do you know how much salt you should be eating? And if I tell you it’s less than 5 grams a day, do you know how much that is? Ruth Alexander explores the wonder of salt and why chefs think their job would be pointless without it and why the impact it’s having on the food might surprise you. Professor Paul Breslin tells us about the “magical” chemical reaction happening on your tongue when you eat salt, and why your brain responds to that. We hear about what eating too much salt can do to you from an expert in Australia, as well as a mother in Kazakhstan who cut out salt almost completely – in a country which has one of the highest consumptions in the world. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth AlexanderProduced by Hannah Bewley (Image: A chef sprinkles salt on a pan of food. Credit: BBC)
24/04/2426m 23s

Hungry at sea

Over two million people work in the international shipping trade, and they are often at sea for months at a time. That’s a lot of meals being made by the cook on board, and their work is crucial for keeping the crew happy. Ruth Alexander hears from seafarers about why that makes “cookie” the most important person on board a ship and why, in some cases, crew members are going hungry. A former captain of merchant vessels tells us how food is used for so-called “facilitation payments” to corrupt officials, and why crews can sometimes be powerless to stop port officials filling up suitcases with food from the ship’s stores. We also hear about international efforts to try to tackle corruption in ports and increase welfare standards for seafarers. If you would like to share your own experience, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producers: Izzy Greenfield and Hannah Bewley (Image: A container ship at sea. Credit: Getty Images)
17/04/2426m 29s

Food double-acts: TV chefs

What’s the secret behind the on-screen chemistry shared by some TV chef duos? The recent death of Dave Myers, one half of ‘The Hairy Bikers’ with Si King, has prompted this programme celebrating successful food friendships. Dave and Si made food shows and cookbooks that took their fans all over the world, and off-screen they were close friends. In this programme Ruth Alexander speaks to two chefs who have found success in food with a good friend. Ruth Rogers, co-founder of The River Cafe restaurant in London, talks about her partnership with the late Rose Gray, who died in 2010. Together they presented ‘The Italian Kitchen’ for Channel 4 in the UK in 1998. Italian chef Gennaro Contaldo talks about his long friendship and work with the late chef Antonio Carluccio, and the TV series they made together for the BBC, ‘Two Greedy Italians’ in 2011 and 2012. Gennaro also talks about his friendship with the chef Jamie Oliver to whom he’s been a mentor. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray plating dishes at The River Cafe restaurant in London. Credit: Maurice ROUGEMONT/Getty Images/ BBC)
10/04/2429m 23s

How to run a restaurant

These are tough times for restaurants. If the pandemic's rolling lockdowns were not bad enough, independent eateries now find themselves caught on a conveyor belt of crises: inflation, labour shortages and high rents. That is without mentioning the post-Covid agoraphobic “hermit consumer", who prefers to hunker down indoors than splash the cash on going out. If the stats are to be believed 60% of restaurants fail in the first year, 80% after five. And yet despite the long odds many are still seduced by TV dramas like The Bear into turning their passion for cooking into a business. We hear from some of the best in the business for a steer on how to keep this labour of love alive. David Reid speaks to leading restaurant critic Jay Rayner, culinary specialist Ashley Godfrey, top chef Joseph Otway and restaurant operations manager, Sam Wheatley as they lift the lid on the trade secrets they have accumulated from years on the restaurant front-line. The programme also asks what a world without independent restaurants would be like and what we as strapped consumers can do to save the flagging middle of the restaurant market from going under. Presenter/producer: David Reid (Image: A waitress lays a table in a restaurant. Credit: Getty Images)
03/04/2426m 18s

The real Willy Wonkas

Step inside the chocolate factory to hear the secrets of what it’s like to invent sweet treats for a living. Find out why chocolatiers think the raw material is like a “needy child”, but can also bring great joy to people’s lives. And hear the family story of the invention of one of the best-known British chocolate bars, with a trip to an archive of hidden stories from the confectionary industry – and some well-preserved sweets. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Hannah Bewley (Image: Chocolate bars on a colourful background. Credit: Getty)
28/03/2427m 13s

Fasting and feasting

Fasting has been a religious and cultural practice for thousands of years, why do people do it? What happens to your body when you fast? The Food Chain speaks to a British family breaking their fast during Ramadan, a woman in India completing a day long fast for Mahashivratri and explores why the practices around Lent have changed over the years. An expert on intermittent fasting talks us through what is happening to our bodies, and why it might have hidden benefits. In this programme, Rumella Dasgupta explores the tradition of religious fasting with what to eat and what not to eat in three major faiths. If you would like to get in touch with the programme, email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk. Presented by Rumella Dasgupta. (Image: a family in Manchester breaks their fast together with dishes spread out on a cloth on the floor. Credit: BBC)
21/03/2432m 39s

Why we love dumplings

Dumplings feature prominently in cuisines around the world. Some, like the Ghanaian kenkey, or the Irish dumpling, are balls of dough. But in many countries they’re filled with other ingredients. From the Russian pelmeni, to the Japanese gyoza, for centuries we’ve been putting meat, vegetables or cheese in small pouches of pastry, and making delicious snacks. So where did this idea originate? And are all these differently named dumplings connected?Ruth Alexander explores the history of this humble comfort food and hears how different dumplings are made. If you would like to get in touch with the programme, email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk. Presenter: Ruth Alexander. Producers: Julia Paul and Rumella Dasgupta (Image: Dumplings and bowls of dipping sauce. Credit: BBC)
14/03/2427m 28s

The fifth taste

Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and... umami. Have you heard of the fifth taste? Umami, meaning ‘delicious flavour’ in Japanese, was discovered by a chemist in Japan in 1908 but it took nearly 100 years for it to be recognised as a fifth distinct taste. It is described by many as a savoury or meaty taste. In this programme Ruth Alexander learns about the chemist who first discovered umami, and the industrially produced version he created – monosodium glutamate, or MSG. It’s a food additive that’s been the subject of health scares, but today it’s one of the most tested additives in our food and considered to be safe for consumption. Yukari Sakamoto, trained chef and food tour leader in Tokyo explains how umami features in Japanese cuisine; she says miso soup is one of the best examples of maximum umami flavour. Professor Barry Smith, Director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses in the UK, explains the science behind umami and MSG. Calvin Eng, chef and owner of Bonnie’s restaurant in Brooklyn New York, is one of a number of chefs trying to rehabilitate MSG’s reputation – he uses it not just in savoury dishes, but also desserts and drinks. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: a bowl of miso soup, containing tofu and spring onions. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
07/03/2430m 3s

The school cooks

Three school chefs tell Ruth Alexander what it’s like serving up canteen food every day. Find out how they manage hundreds of hungry child customers, what pro tips they have for making vegetables seem delicious, and why they all find the job so satisfying. We hear from the USA, Liverpool in the UK and a school chef in the far north of Finland about the challenges of cooking mountains of meatballs, how to cope when the vegetable biriyani goes all over the ceiling, and why it’s one of the most rewarding – but probably overlooked – professions. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Producers: Hannah Bewley and Rumella Dasgupta (Image: a plastic lunch tray with meat, vegetables and gravy, fruit and a plastic cup. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
29/02/2427m 12s

Is this ultra processed?

Have you heard of ultra processed food? In 2010 a group of Brazilian scientists said we should be focusing less on the nutritional content of food, and more on the form of processing it undergoes. They created the Nova system, a way of categorising foods based on how processed they are. It identifies ultra processed foods as generally industrially manufactured, containing ingredients such as emulsifiers, stabilisers and other additives that would not be found in an average home kitchen. A growing body of scientific research suggests a link between this category of ultra processed foods and ill health, although there’s still some uncertainty around why this could be. In this programme we look at what ultra processed food is, how you spot it, and how practical it is to avoid it, should you wish to. Ruth Alexander speaks to listener Jen Sherman in California who is trying to reduce the amount of ultra processed food her family eats. Ruth also hears from one of the public health scientists behind the Nova classification, Jean-Claude Moubarac at the University of Montreal in Canada, and from Pierre Slamich, co-founder of the Open Food Facts app and website, a database of foods that can help you identify products that are ultra processed. Kate Halliwell, Chief Scientific Officer at the Food and Drink Federation in the UK, which represents manufacturers, says evidence of harm from ultra processed foods is not yet strong enough. If you’d like to contact the programme you can email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. Additional reporting by Jane Chambers in Chile.
22/02/2433m 16s

Table talk

What do you and your family chat about at dinner? We eavesdrop on conversations over food all over the world, hearing about poetry, politics, what is on TV and how Morag’s leg is recovering. Whether you gossip or have more philosophical debates find out how integral good communication is while we are eating, often marking the only point in the day or week when a family gathers together. We learn why a matchmaker thinks a dinner date might not be such a good idea after all if you want the conversation to flow. And, psychotherapist Philippa Perry tells us how to keep the peace with the family over Sunday lunch. Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Hannah Bewley and Rumella Dasgupta If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Image: Family and friends sit around the dinner table. Credit: BBC)
15/02/2427m 18s

Detroit's urban farmers

The city of Detroit in the United States has a lot of vacant space – as much as a quarter of residential, commercial and industrial sites lie unused today. In this programme Ruth Alexander meets the people who are growing food in their neighbourhoods, creating urban farms and community gardens where houses once stood. Mark Covington is the founder of Georgia Street Community Collective, and Tyson Gersh is the co-founder of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative. Ruth learns why so much land stands empty from the city’s official historian Jamon Jordan. Jamon explains the role of the automobile industry in bringing jobs and people to Detroit in the early 1900s, and the circumstances that led to decades of population decline, job losses and debt for the city government, culminating in bankruptcy in 2013. Tepfirah Rushdan is the newly appointed, first Director of Urban Agriculture for the city of Detroit. She explains how she hopes to bring urban farmers and politicians together to find a way for food to be grown alongside new developments as investment returns to the city. If you’d like to contact the programme you can email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative a farm in downtown Detroit, surrounded by roads and buildings. Credit: Michelle and Chris Gerard/BBC)
08/02/2431m 44s

Rebuilding Turkey’s food culture

In February 2023, two earthquakes devastated parts of Turkey. The disaster claimed the lives of nearly 60,000 people in southern Turkey and northern Syria. In this programme Victoria Craig travels to the city of Antakya, part of Hatay Province, close to the border with Syria. It’s a region long famed for its cuisine, and even has special UNESCO recognition for its gastronomy. Since the earthquake a year ago much of the local population has left the badly damaged area, and food businesses in the historic bazaar are waiting for rebuilding work to begin. Victoria hears from the people of Antakya why food is such an important part of their culture and community. Produced and presented by Victoria Craig. If you'd like to contact the programme, you can email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.(Image: tray kebab from the bazaar in Antakya. Credit: Victoria Craig/BBC)
01/02/2427m 7s

Is Chinese food the best in the world?

Chinese food is popular and successful around the world. But is it afforded the respect it deserves? In some countries Chinese food has been seen as something tasty, but ultimately cheap and not very healthy, despite it being a cuisine with a focus on health, seasonality and gastronomic skill for centuries. In this programme Ruth Alexander meets Fuchsia Dunlop, a British food writer who has spent a career studying Chinese cuisine. She argues that the food has long been undervalued in the West, and it’s time for that to change. Ruth also meets chef Andrew Wong, whose restaurant A.Wong in London holds two Michelin stars, the first Chinese restaurant outside of Asia to receive that accolade. A.Wong operates on the same site as Andrew’s parents’ Chinese restaurant in the 1980s and he talks about how the business, and Chinese food in the UK, has evolved. And she hears from Rica Leon, CEO of ‘Chifa’, a restaurant in LA that celebrates her family’s Chinese and Peruvian heritage. Rica explains how Chinese flavours and ingredients have influenced Peruvian food. If you’d like to contact the programme, you can email the foodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: A table of tofu dishes prepared by Fuchsia Dunlop, including mapo tofu, smoked tofu salad, shredded tofu leather, silken tofu with avocado, an imitation roast duck dish made from layers of tofu, and deep fried tofu served in a soup. Credit: Fuchsia Dunlop/BBC)
25/01/2430m 47s

How to invent an apple

Have you ever wondered why the apple you bite in to is so crisp and juicy? And why it’s available all year round? Apples originated in the mountains of Central Asia, and made their way along trade routes to Europe and then on to the rest of the world. They are now one of the most widely consumed fruit worldwide. An apple seed will produce a completely different fruit to the tree it came from – so new varieties have to be bred and cultivated. In this week’s episode Ruth Alexander finds out about the science behind finding that perfect crunch, how long it takes to be able to taste an apple you’ve spent years planning and how to grab consumers’ attention with a new breed. Ruth also visits a wassail near Manchester in England to experience an ancient tradition involving cider, hanging toast on a tree and lots of singing to encourage a good apple harvest for the year ahead. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukPresenter: Ruth AlexanderProducer: Hannah Bewley(Image: A bright red apple on a green background. Credit: Getty Images)
18/01/2427m 32s

The preservers

Humans have preserved food to make it last longer for thousands of years. In this programme Ruth Alexander learns about different methods of food preservation used around the world, including pickling, dehydrating and canning. Food historian and writer Darra Goldstein in the US explains the history of this art. Yukari Sakamoto is a trained chef and sommelier who leads food tours in Tokyo, she explains why people in Japan take the idea of a well stocked pantry seriously. And Usha Prabakaran in Chennai, India talks about her love of the Indian pickle and its role in Indian cuisine. There are some important safety considerations if you want food to last longer, particularly if you want to store it at room temperature. There is a risk of botulism if food is not heated to the correct temperature for the correct amount of time, particularly for foods that are low in acid. Ruth hears about the laboratory testing done by Carla Schwan, Director at the National Home Food Preservation Centre based in Georgia, United States which tests recipes that can be used safely for home preserves. Canning – storing food in glass jars and heating it – has seen a resurgence recently. Some enthusiasts refer to themselves as ‘rebel canners’, which in general refers to people wanting to use recipes other than those that have been lab tested and approved. The ‘Canning Diva’, Diane Devereaux a food preservation educator and blogger in the United States explains what motivates rebel canners, and the recipes she thinks are missing for consumers. If you’d like to contact the programme, you can email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: a selection of foods preserved in jars of different shapes and sizes. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
11/01/2432m 23s

Another year away from home

Ruth Alexander talks to two families displaced by the war in Ukraine, as they reflect on their second year away from home. They discuss the difficulties of being away from loved ones and the solace home cooking can provide. Ruth speaks to Natalia Lomonosova, who’d had to flee her home in Kyiv with her teenage daughter and has set up a new life in Berlin, Germany; and she visits Mariya Dmytrenko and her family, who are living with their hosts Brian and Julie Lamb, in Blackburn, England. If you’d like to contact the programme, please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk. Producer: Beatrice Pickup (Image: Mariya Dmytrenko and family with their hosts Brian and Julie Lamb. Credit: BBC)
28/12/2327m 2s

Festive food stories

We take a trip around the world with BBC World Service presenters and listeners, finding out which are their favourite foods when a celebration is in order. A porridge which is hidden around the house to ward off spirits, sweet and delicious pilau shared with neighbours and an ornate box filled with as many as 50 types of food in Japan – we hear about what’s on the menu at this time of year. Ruth Alexander has help from her enthusiastic three-year-old son to make a traditional Christmas cake for the first time and BBC World Service business presenter Devina Gupta gets stuck washing up after a delicious Diwali feast with her family in Delhi. Producers: Hannah Bewley, Beatrice Pickup and Rumella Dasgupta Image: Ruth and her son making Christmas cake, Credit: BBC If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk
21/12/2329m 51s

Feed your brain

Our brains require 20% of our body’s energy intake, despite making up, on average, only 2% of our body weight. There are nutrients that are needed for brain health and development, yet many of us don’t think about specifically eating for our brains. In this programme Ruth Alexander learns about the relationship between our gut and our brain, and the impact food can have on your alertness, mood and memory. And just why oily fish, and other foods containing omega 3 fatty acids are so good for your brain. Ruth speaks to Dr Reeta Achari, a neurologist specialising in nutrition in Texas, United States and Dr Uma Naidoo a nutritional psychiatrist and author of ‘Calm Your Mind With Food’, in Massachusetts, United States. They are joined by Michelle Munt in the United Kingdom, whose blog ‘Jumbled Brain’ talks about recovering from a brain injury following a car accident in 2014. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Julia Paul and Beatrice Pickup. (Image: a selection of foods collected in the shape of a brain. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
14/12/2327m 8s

How to stop cooking killing

It’s estimated that more than 2 billion people use polluting stoves - with severe consequences for their health. The World Health Organisation says 3.2 million people die each year as a result of the household air pollution they cause. Ruth Alexander finds out why this problem – which also harms the environment – is so difficult to solve. She speaks to Dr Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency in Paris; Sophie Odupoy from Koko Networks in Kenya; Naramath Lucas Kariongi from the Rural Communities Support Organisation in Tanzania; and Dr Mike Clifford of Nottingham University’s engineering department in the UK. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk. Producers: Hannah Bewley and Rumella Dasgupta.(Picture: a clay stove with a wood fire lit. Credit: BBC)
07/12/2327m 10s

Pesticide exports

Many countries allow the manufacture and export of pesticides that are banned for use in their own countries. Recently France and Belgium have introduced laws preventing the export of such agrochemicals if their use is banned in the European Union. The European Commission is currently considering whether to introduce similar laws. Grace Livingstone reports from Paraguay where some small farmers living near soya plantations say heavy pesticide spraying is affecting their health and livelihoods. We hear from the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Toxics, Marcos Orellana, who says that global pesticide regulations should be tougher. And we speak to Emily Rees of CropLife International, which represents the agrochemical industry, who says different climates and soil conditions require different pesticides. Produced and presented by Grace Livingstone. (Image: a tractor spraying soybean crops. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
30/11/2327m 15s

Food for new mums

Seaweed soup, aniseed sprinkles on toast, pig trotter soup and fried chicken. In this episode Ruth Alexander learns about what your body needs postpartum, and hears different food traditions for that time, from around the world. Chinese-American author Heng Ou tells us about her differing experiences after the birth of her three children, and how an auntie making dumplings non-stop helped her. Allison Oman Lawi from the World Food Programme explains the nutritional needs for the body in the weeks after giving birth and talks about how cultural traditions often get it just right. Mengqi Wang in China tells us about her experience in a postpartum clinic and how she managed to break the strict dietary rules a few times. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukPresented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Hannah Bewley and Rumella Dasgupta. (Image: A woman holds her new baby. Credit: Getty Images)
23/11/2327m 53s

Eco scores on food labels

The European Union wants to introduce one system for scoring the sustainability of food products. The new requirements are likely to be introduced in 2024. Currently there are a number of different labels and symbols used on food packaging across Europe, and there is concern that this can lead to confusion for consumers and can be open to exploitation. Russell Padmore travels across Ireland, hearing about the pros and cons from farmers, food producers, restaurants and consumers. If you’d like to contact the programme you can email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Produced and presented by Russell Padmore. (Image: a woman looking at the label on a can of food, holding a shopping basket. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
16/11/2327m 19s

How to read a menu

Pan fried, artisanal, gourmet: there's a fashion for foodie words. Why? In this episode, Ruth Alexander finds out how restaurants use language, psychology and behavioural economics to whet your appetite and increase their profits. Linguist Dr Keri Matwick of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore explains the research that shows the longer the description of a dish, the more expensive on average it is. Chef Caroline Martins of Sampa at Blossom Street Social Wine Bar in Manchester, England talks about the mistakes she made when she first designed her menus. Sean Willard of Menu Engineers in California gives us an insight into the power of using a box on the menu.And thanks to listener Simon in London who emailed thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk with the idea for the programme. Neither he nor we will look at a menu in the same way again.Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup.(Image: a woman holding a menu in front of her face. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
09/11/2330m 12s

Cooking in extreme places

Wherever humans go, whatever we do, we need to eat. In this programme, we meet the people cooking at the extremes. We hear about the chefs serving up three-course meals on Africa’s highest peak; the elaborate puddings created on stormy seas with a cruise ship pastry chef; the art of cramming enough food to feed 100 hungry sailors on board a nuclear submarine with a US Navy submarine culinary specialist, and tapas nights in the Antarctic with the chef at Rothera research station. Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producers: Rumella Dasgupta and Izzy Greenfield (Image: Mount Lister in Antarctica, covered in snow and ice. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk
02/11/2327m 26s

Why is food so expensive in Ghana?

Ghana’s inflation rate is one of the highest in the world, much of it driven by rising food prices. In this programme Ruth Alexander asks how Ghana went from being the world’s fastest growing economy in 2019, to financial crisis today. Economist John Asafu-Adjaye, at the African Center for Economic Transformation based in Ghana, explains why much of the country’s food is imported. Lydia Amenyaglo explains why historically cocoa has not been made into chocolate in Ghana, instead shipped elsewhere to be manufactured. Her family has farmed cocoa for decades, but she’s struggled to start a new business creating cocoa products at home in Ghana. Ruth hears about the impact of rising food prices on school meals in Ghana. Might Kojo Abreh, at the Institute for Educational Planning and Administration in Ghana, explains the findings from a survey of caterers, schools and students which found that some children are going hungry. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Beatrice Pickup(Image: A woman with a child on her back purchasing food. Credit: Getty Images)
25/10/2329m 47s

The rise of private chefs

This week, Ruth Alexander is exploring the growing market for professional home cooking and asking whether you’re guaranteed the luxury experience you’re paying for. She speaks to private chef Juliana White, also known as Plate in Progress, about what it's like to cook for the rich and famous in The Hamptons, a summer destination for affluent New York residents.Kate Emery, founder of Amandine International Chef Placement in the south of France, tells Ruth how she handles the big personalities of chef and client, and discusses the demand for private chefs from the middle classes.We talk to one of the newer types of customers, John Holt, about why he's happy to spend handsomely to hire a private chef for an evening, and why it isn't always a success.Italian-born Marcello Ghiretti treats Ruth to some breakfast, and explains the issues surrounding private chefs and professional standards.
18/10/2327m 41s

How to feed a city

More than half of us globally now live in cities. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, that number will be closer to seven out of ten of us. How can growing cities feed their populations? In this programme Ruth Alexander finds out about the history of how cities grew to their current scale, and some potential solutions to meeting their food needs. Carolyn Steel, architect and author of ‘Hungry City’ meets Ruth in London, United Kingdom, to talk about the role of transport and markets in making London the city it is today. Ruth hears about Tokyo, Japan, a city that has spread around ancient farmland rather than build on it. She speaks to Yu Tominaga and Mayumi Kawaguchi who own Hasune farm in central Tokyo, and Professor Makoto Yokohari who studies urban farming at the University of Tokyo. In Namibia, our reporter Frauke Jensen Röschlau reports on the role of informal food vendors on the streets of Windhoek, she interviews Professor Ndeyapo Nickanor, an expert in food security at the University of Namibia. If you’d like to contact the programme you can email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. Additional reporting by Frauke Jensen Röschlau. (Image: commuters walking on a street in Tokyo. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
11/10/2327m 55s

Can you eat your way to 100?

What if you could reach a great age through your dietary choices? Imagine – that the food you eat has a direct effect on how long you live. An appealing concept, but can it be backed up by research? In this programme, Ruth Alexander explores the dietary habits of centenarians, to find out if there are any similarities in what they eat and whether their diets have had a bearing on their longevity. She speaks to 100-year-old Betty Webb, to find out how much food has played a role in reaching a century, and discovers more about “Blue Zones” – geographical areas where some researchers claim people live longer than average lifespans. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: An older woman holding a slice of watermelon. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
05/10/2327m 45s

Bonnie Garmus: My life in five dishes

Bonnie Garmus, author of the bestselling novel Lessons in Chemistry, shares the story of her life through five dishes. Ruth Alexander meets Bonnie in her London home, to talk about the food influences in her debut novel about a female chemist turned TV cookery show host in the 1950s and 60s. She’ll hear about Bonnie’s childhood growing up in California, her own personal experiences of sexism in the workplace, the adoption of her Chinese daughters and her relationship with her husband David. Bonnie will bake a dish that features in her novel, ‘desperation brownies’. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: Bonnie Garmus in her London home with a brownie that she has baked. Credit: BBC)
27/09/2329m 52s

What's in a national dish?

Many dishes have become famous national symbols both at home and abroad, for example Italian pizza, or British fish and chips. Whilst such dishes can create a sense of unity and identity, they can also be used to fuel nationalism, or to push a political agenda. In this edition of The Food Chain, Izzy Greenfield hears the stories behind some of the most famous national foods, some based more on myth or marketing than historical fact. She speaks to Anya Von Bremzen, author of 'National Dish', in which Anya investigates the origins of foods such as Italian pizza, Japanese noodles, Spanish tapas and Mexican tortillas. The Secretary of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage at UNESCO, Tim Curtis, explains why some dishes are recognised for the community practices that surround them. Andrew Crook, President of the National Federation of Fish Fryers in the UK, and food historian Professor Panikos Panayi from DeMontfort University in Leicester, England, explain the complex history behind fish and chips.If you would like to get in touch with the programme, email thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukPresented by Izzy Greenfield. Produced by Beatrice Pickup.(Image:takeaway fish and chips with a union jack flag on a cocktail stick. Credit: BBC)
20/09/2329m 12s

The taste test

Consumers have the buying power but how much are they considered when a brand decides to make a change? In this edition of The Food Chain Ruth Alexander takes a look at what goes into developing some of the products we know and love. We travel to the northwest of England to a consumer taste testing facility, Wirral Sensory Services. Such businesses would have been few and far between just decades ago but now they’re a big part of the research process when brands look to launch new products or make changes to existing ones. Consumer expert Dr Sara Jaeger tells us about the benefits and the limitations of these tests and business consultant Samuel West talks us through some of the most well know failures in food. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Hannah Mullane (Image: a woman blindfolded, sat in front of a pizza. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
13/09/2327m 4s

The art of food diplomacy

As India welcomes the world’s biggest economies for the G20 meeting this September, we look at the role that food might play in top level discussions. Food diplomacy is increasingly seen as a form of ‘soft power’ that can help build bridges and find common ground. In this programme Devina Gupta speaks to chef Arun Sundaraj, who is leading the catering teams at the Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi which is hosting many of the G20 delegates. She visits the Colombian embassy in London to hear from the country’s ambassador about the role food played during vital peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC. Devina also travels to Glasgow in Scotland to share a plate of haggis with Scotland’s national chef, Gary Maclean and Lauren Bernstein, founder and CEO of The Culinary Diplomacy Project in the United States, explains why governments are looking to hire culinary experts to aid in diplomacy. Presented by Devina Gupta. Produced by Rumella Dasgupta. (Image: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden raise two wine glasses in a toast. Credit: Getty Images/ The Washington Post/ BBC).
06/09/2328m 48s

Feeding baby

Weaning refers to the process of introducing your baby to solid foods, alongside breast milk or formula. In the UK, the NHS suggests this normally happens at around six months old. In this programme Rick Kelsey starts the weaning journey with his baby boy Albie, and finds out about some of the different approaches including ‘spoon fed’ and ‘baby led’ weaning. He also gets advice on how to deal with allergies and choking. Rick Kelsey is joined by Katie Shelton from ‘Scrummy Tummies’, Dr Sarika Kapoor who posts online as ‘The Weaning GP’, and Rachel Childs, nutritionist at First Steps Nutrition Trust, a public health charity in the UK. Produced and presented by Rick Kelsey. You can contact the programme by emailing thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Image: a baby being spoon fed, with food around its mouth. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)This edition was updated on 02/10/2023.
30/08/2326m 55s

Stop chewing like that!

Imagine not being able to sit and eat at the dinner table with your family without feeling furious. The little-known condition of Misophonia, often called “sound rage”, is a lower tolerance to certain sounds. Although sufferers can react to several types of repetitive noises, many are particularly triggered by eating sounds. Misophonia has not been classified as a clinical disorder, and there have only been a few studies into it, which means many doctors have never heard of the condition. In this programme, Ruth Alexander meets three people with Misophonia who are trying to raise awareness: Dr Jane Gregory, a doctoral research fellow at Oxford University; Adeel Ahmad, the host of a misophonia-themed podcast in the US, and Olana Tansley-Hancock, a clinical researcher based in the UK.If you would like to get in touch with the programme, email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Image: Young man and woman next to each other, woman biting into apple. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)Produced by Julia Paul
23/08/2327m 26s

Banh mi: A sandwich with a story

The banh mi is a staple street food in Vietnam and increasingly popular around the world. But how did it come to be a global sensation? In this edition of The Food Chain, Ruth Alexander discovers how the signature sandwich - invented during the French occupation of Vietnam in the 1950s - went on to become popular around the world after the end of the Vietnam war. Ruth explores the traces of French history and politics found in the sandwich ingredients with former French diplomat to Vietnam Dr Bertrand Hartingh; and she discovers how it’s made at Manchester restaurant, Pho Cue. And as Dr Quan Tran of Yale University explains, it's a tale of ingenuity, adaptation and family love. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: A banh mi sandwich)Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producers: Sam Clack and Rumella Dasgupta
16/08/2327m 10s

The Little Italy story

Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world, but how did it first make its way out of Italy? In this edition of The Food Chain, Ruth Alexander uncovers stories of migration, food culture and legacy in the Italian diaspora. Academic Donna Gabaccia explains why millions of Italians left their home country in the 1800s, creating new communities around the world that came to be known as ‘Little Italy’. Ruth visits one of them, in London’s Clerkenwell, to discover its history and how a delicatessen founded in the late 1800s – still busy today – sparked a love for Italian cuisine. We hear from an Italian restaurant owner in Buenos Aires, whose Genoese ancestors put their stamp on the local food scene more than 90 years ago.And reporter Kizzy Cox takes a trip around some eateries in the world-famous Little Italy in New York City to see how the local community is moving with the times. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Five contributors in the programme, from left to right: Lou di Palo, Luca Fadda, Hugo Banchero, Giorgia Fadda and Nico Paganelli, in front of a Little Italy sign. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Elisabeth Mahy Reporter: Kizzy Cox Additional production: Veronica Smink and Matías Zibell Garcia
09/08/2333m 14s

This kid cooks

At what age should you start teaching children to cook, and why should you? In this programme, Ruth Alexander meets children and young people who are talented in the kitchen, making the case for why it might be worth the time and the mess to trust them to make dinner. We travel to the north-west of England to Sefton Carers Centre to meet Paige Jones, aged nine, who cares and cooks for her mum, Rachel, who has a health condition. Food writer Jenny Chandler, who has authored two cookbooks for children, gives Ruth some tips about how she can get her three-year-old son engaged in the kitchen. And Ruth meets the young cooking enthusiasts sharing their skills with others: Keffa Liona in Nairobi, Kenya, makes cooking videos with his younger brother, Kisali, which they post online; and Julian Frederick in Texas, United States, is - aged 15 - the CEO of Stepstool Chef, which provides video tutorials presented by children for children. Presented by Ruth Alexander Produced by Beatrice Pickup(Image: Child stood on a stool in a kitchen, making houmous.)
02/08/2331m 41s

Immersive dining

Immersive dining has become something of a culinary craze in recent years. As well as serving food, restaurants are providing multi-sensory experiences for customers; transforming their dining spaces into places where people can escape. In this edition of The Food Chain, we take a look at immersive dining establishments around the world, exploring why customers are increasingly choosing to be entertained while they eat, and asking – is this dining trend a bit of a fad, or is it the future of eating out? If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Diners eating at tables surrounded by flowing water, at Labassin Waterfall restaurant in the Philippines) Presenter: Izzy Greenfield Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
26/07/2332m 9s

Africa's forgotten foods

The African continent is seeing one of the fastest rates of urbanisation in the world. As people move to cities, and lifestyles change, so do diets. Many indigenous ingredients and dishes become hard to source and prepare. Others become associated with rural or village ways of life and are no longer seen as sufficiently aspirational. In this programme, Michael Kaloki finds out about traditional dishes at risk of being forgotten. He cooks with his Aunty Naomi to learn about dishes from his own Kamba tribe in Kenya. He also visits Dr Kathleen Anangwe, Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Social Work and African Women Studies at the University of Nairobi, as she prepares a traditional dish from her own tribe, the Luhya in Western Kenya. He speaks to chef Selassie Atadika, who is showcasing indigenous ingredients and methods of cooking in her pop-up nomadic dinners in Accra, Ghana. If you'd like to contact the programme email - thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Michael Kaloki. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: women transporting millet in baskets on their head. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
19/07/2331m 36s

What the wedding caterer is really thinking

Going to a wedding this year? Spare a thought for the caterers - expected to put on ever-more elaborate feasts in ever-more challenging conditions. In this episode, three wedding caterers - in India, the US and the UK - share anecdotes about demanding guests, make-shift hillside kitchens and emergency trips to hospital. Warning: if you’re a bride- or groom-to-be, this programme might just give you a case of the jitters. You can share your tales of wedding banquet triumphs and disasters by emailing thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Bride and groom blowing out a candle on a cake. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
12/07/2326m 34s

How I learnt to cook

Out of necessity, in adversity, or for the fun of it - how, and why did you learn to cook? Ruth Alexander hears the stories behind people’s kitchen skills - the highs, the lows, the challenges overcome, and the connections made – and discovers there’s often more than just dinner at stake. Growing up in Germany to Japanese parents, chef Nina Matsunaga remembers having to step up to the stove when her mother was taken ill; the eldest of three boys in Cameroon, Timah Julius Nyambod made breakfast and dinner for his brothers while his mother worked as a food vendor; Janet Pollock describes teaching herself to cook as a young child inspired by cookery shows in Nashville, USA; and Rahul Raina is holding on to his Kashmiri heritage in Oxford, England, thanks to the recipes and know-how of his mother and grandmother. You can contact the programme by emailing – thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander Produced by Beatrice Pickup and Rumella Dasgupta (Image: Rahul Raina cooking chicken yakhni, a Kashmiri dish, with his mother Sunanda Dhar. Credit: BBC)
05/07/2327m 15s

How did salt get so gourmet?

Salt has been a staple ingredient in cooking and preserving food for thousands of years. It adds flavour to food, preserves it, and keeps our bodies functioning. In recent years, gourmet brands have emerged and some consumers have been willing to pay higher prices for rock and sea salts. Ruth Alexander finds out how this trend started and asks whether there’s anything special about speciality salts. She speaks to Jess Lea-Wilson, Ronan Burns and Rob Jardine about how Halen Mon seasalt is made in Anglesey, Wales; Craig Cormack, ‘The Salt Chef’, about the salt tasting sessions he runs in South Africa; and Rajesh Shah of Vikas Center for Development about how technology is improving conditions and profits for salt workers in the Indian state of Gujarat.If you would like to get in touch with the programme, email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Julia Paul.(Image: a spoonful of salt. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
28/06/2328m 42s

Can you feed a city from its rooftops?

Could our office, apartment and public buildings also be farms? In this programme, Ruth Alexander meets the pioneers of rooftop farming, turning concrete into green spaces where fruit and vegetables are grown. We find out about the logistics, the challenges, and whether it has the potential to feed city populations. In Barcelona, Spain, she meets Joan Carulla, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday. Joan has been tending his private rooftop vegetable garden for fifty years with the help of his son, Toni. They’re joined by friend and fellow rooftop gardener, Robert Strauss. Ruth speaks to Kotchakorn Voraakhom, a landscape architect in Bangkok, Thailand. She designed a farm on the roof of a university in 2019, the largest in Asia at that time. And Mohamed Hage, co-founder and CEO of Lufa Farms in Montreal, Canada explains how they are farming rooftops on a commercial scale. To date the company has four rooftop greenhouses and an indoor farm, which produces enough food to feed about 2 per cent of the city’s population. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: Joan Carulla sat on a bench in his rooftop garden in Barcelona, Spain. Credit: BBC)
21/06/2330m 23s

The power of heritage brands

Tabasco sauce, Lea and Perrins, Angostura Bitters. Those are a few of a very select number of sauces, condiments and tipples that have weathered changing tastes and trends over the years, even outliving their founders.How do some brands manage to survive for 100, 150 or 200 years?In this programme, David Reid lifts the lid on some of these store cupboard stalwarts to reveal the secrets of their longevity, heritage appeal, and what happens when a company tries to ‘tweak’ a winning recipe.If you’d like to contact the programme you can email – thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: Tabasco sauce bottles) Presented and produced by David Reid
14/06/2327m 20s

How did TV cooking competitions get so big?

Television cookery competitions are big business – drawing audiences in their millions over multiple series. How did they become such a successful format? In this programme we go behind the scenes with competitors and judges. Ruth Alexander speaks to chef Simon Wood, who won the BBC’s 'Masterchef' in 2015 and today runs two restaurants of his own in the United Kingdom; New York based chef Marcus Samuelsson, who has both competed in and appeared as a judge in multiple different shows including 'Top Chef', 'Iron Chef' and 'Chopped'; and food writer Gail Simmons, judge on 'Top Chef' in the United States for all twenty seasons to date. Tasha Oren is Associate Professor and Director of the Film and Media Studies Programe at Tufts University in Massachusetts, United States. She describes how food television has evolved over decades. And Ruth speaks to World Service listeners Mutinkhe Kaunda in Zambia and Andrew Laverghetta in the US about what they look for in a TV cooking competition. Clips from 'Iron Chef Japan' used courtesy of Fuji Television Network, Inc. If you’d like to contact the programme you can email – thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: a hand holding up a trophy. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
07/06/2334m 4s

Let’s take a lunch break!

A lunch break can tell you quite a lot about a country’s work culture; ranging from two-hour, luxuriant pauses in some parts of the world, to a couple of minutes, snack-in-hand at a desk, in others. For decades, people have built up camaraderie by meeting informally and in person, but technology and the pandemic have changed that. In this programme, Ruth Alexander goes in search of the meaning and purpose of the lunch break; from power lunches in the heady world of international finance, to a simple snack and a chat with a colleague, and asks, what do we stand to lose if we don’t take a proper break? If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Two female colleagues, laughing over a meal. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
31/05/2330m 51s

Teaching tomorrow's chefs

Why go to culinary school when you could learn on the job? Three trained chefs-turned teachers make the case for learning the basics and getting a qualification that could open doors in a competitive world. In this programme Ruth Alexander hears what it takes to be a great culinary teacher. She speaks to Gary Maclean, Executive Chef at City of Glasgow College in the UK, he’s Scotland’s national chef and won the BBC’s Masterchef the Professionals in 2016; Suzanne Storms, Assistant Professor at the Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong where she manages the culinary arts and management degree; and Alexandra Didier, Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. If you’d like to contact the programme you can email us – thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: a chef instructs a student in a kitchen classroom. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
24/05/2327m 33s

Is the food you’re eating what you think it is?

How can you be sure you’re eating what you think you’re eating? In most cases, food fraud won’t make you ill, but you won’t be getting quite what you’re paying for. In this programme, Ruth Alexander hears why high food prices and the war in Ukraine mean food fraud is more likely to happen. She visits a laboratory in Belfast in Northern Ireland, where food products are analysed to sort what’s real and what’s fake, and she speaks to a food fraud investigator who tells us just how difficult it is to stop the criminals. And we hear from a spice market in Delhi where vendors and shoppers tell us how they try to avoid fake products. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Producer: Elisabeth Mahy(Image: A row of jars of spices, but the one in the middle is highlighted. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
17/05/2329m 20s

Should we farm octopus?

The world’s first octopus farm is being planned by a Spanish seafood multinational. The intelligent creatures are difficult to rear in captivity, but numerous companies around the world have been trying and Nueva Pescanova has announced it’s close to making an octopus farm a reality. Scientists and animal welfare groups have objected to the plans. Nueva Pescanova says the company’s priority is to guarantee animal welfare by applying to the cultivation process the conditions of the species in the wild. Ruth Alexander finds out more about both sides of the debate with the BBC’s Environment and Rural Affairs correspondent, Claire Marshall, who has been closely following the story from the beginning. She speaks to Dr Heather Browning, Lecturer in Philosophy at Southampton University in the UK and former zoo-keeper, about the capacity of octopuses to experience feelings; and how we form our opinions about what we should and shouldn’t farm. And she finds out why octopus is central to Japanese cuisine with food writer and host of Japan Eats! podcast, Akiko Katayama. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: an octopus with curling tentacles. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
10/05/2330m 43s

A dish fit for the King

The crowning of a British monarch calls for an official dish. In 1953, for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, it was a curry and mayonnaise chicken dish. This time around, King Charles III has selected a quiche - the principle of the shareable tart being to inspire the public to join in a celebratory lunch. It may sound fairly simple, but as Ruth Alexander discovers in this programme, a lot lies behind the commemorative dish. Ruth asks why the new King wants his crowning moment to be marked with home-baking, what opportunities royal-inspired food offers, and what the monarch’s culinary choice might tell us about this moment in time. She visits a farm shop in Warwickshire, in the British Midlands, where owner Michelle Edkins has been baking and serving up a spread of dishes to mark the big occasion. Muhammed Ali, the owner of an Indian restaurant in the neighbouring county of Staffordshire, tells Ruth about a new Coronation-themed curry he’s put on his menu to capture the moment. Food historian, Dr Rachel Rich, puts the official quiche into historical context. And Dame Prue Leith, South African-British celebrity cook and judge, gives her verdict on the dish and considers whether its simplicity and choice of ingredients signal something about the new monarch. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: King Charles III having tea. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
03/05/2330m 52s

The growth of GM food

Genetically-modified food has long been a subject of debate. It was first introduced to market in the United States in the mid 90s. Since then, some governments have approved the cultivation and sale of GM food, whilst others have had bans in place. In this programme, we look at attempts by India and Kenya to approve genetically-modified food crops, and ask if lessons can be learnt from the United States where GM foods have been consumed for decades. Today there are lots of different genetic-engineering techniques in use. Generally, genetic modification refers to organisms created with particular characteristics, using some genetic material from a different organism. Ruth Alexander is joined by Devina Gupta, from Business Daily on the BBC World Service, who can explain the latest developments in India, where the government wants farmers to plant genetically-modified mustard. Ruth also speaks to Roy Mugiira, chief executive of the National Bio Safety Authority Kenya, the government appointed regulator for GM products. In Kenya, the government has lifted a 10-year ban on GM, and approved the use of GM maize, a staple crop. And Professor Jennifer Kuzma, co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University, talks about how labelling can help give consumers choice over whether they eat GM. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: field of corn. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
26/04/2331m 48s

How AI could design our diets

Every day, humans make multiple choices about what to eat. Some of those decisions will be better for our health than others - but what if we allowed a machine to decide for us? In this programme, Adam Shaw explores what would happen if we let artificial intelligence (AI) design our diets and whether that might improve our health. Adam visits a laboratory in the UK to meet AI researcher Dr James Neil, from the Centre for Nutrition Education & Lifestyle Management, whose company is developing machine-learning systems to create personalised diets. He speaks to dietician Pennie McCoy, to find out how a digital therapist called ‘Hope’ is learning to help Australians stay on track with their weight-loss goals. Dr Mariette Abrahams, dietician and CEO of Qina, a company in Portugal which offers strategic advice on the personalised nutritional market, tells Adam about the potential and the pitfalls of the new tools. And Dr Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine and executive vice president of Scripps Research in the US, considers whether AI-driven diets will be used for a small group of people, or whether the technology could fundamentally change everyone’s approach to food. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: A robot hand and a human hand both reaching out to grab an apple. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)Presenter: Adam Shaw Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
21/04/2331m 48s

Is this the end of the British caff?

The British "caff" - slang for café, and home of the breakfast fry up, or "full english" - is under threat. Many have closed, struggling to compete with changing tastes and the success of chains. Many of Britain’s historic caffs opened in the 1940s and 50s, run by Italian migrants. Some of these original caffs are still trading, run by second and third generation Italian families. In this programme Ruth Alexander hears stories of the famous caffs that have closed for good, and goes in search of caffs still going. She’s joined by actor Michael Simkins, who has relied on hearty caff fare during a 40-year career in the theatres of London’s West End, and meets actor and director Mark Gatiss, who is finding it increasingly hard to find a good cup of tea in the capital. Ruth visits cafes that have been operating for decades – Bar Bruno in Soho, and Dino’s Café in east London, to learn exactly what their customers love so much about the traditional British caff. Restaurant sector consultant James Hacon describes the changes seen in the hospitality industry in the last twenty years, and why caffs now face such stiff competition.If you would like to get in touch with the programme, email - thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: Ernie Fiori proprietor of Dino’s Café at New Spitalfields Market, East London, holding up his tea pot. Credit: BBC)
12/04/2335m 16s

Can small farms feed the world?

What’s the best way to produce affordable food, that’s good for the planet, and can feed us all? Is it even possible to have all three? In this programme, Grace Livingstone visits small and large farms in England and Argentina. She hears the case made for organic farming, and asks if it’s feasible for organic farms to produce enough food to feed a country. At a larger farm, she hears about why farmers rely on fertilisers and herbicides to produce large volumes of affordable food. Is it possible to farm in a way that increases biodiversity and protects the environment, whilst also remaining competitive? And what can we do as consumers to encourage and support greener farming? (Picture: Farmers Lizzie and Rob Walrond standing by a farm gate)Presented and produced by Grace Livingstone
05/04/2330m 19s

Bringing dark kitchens into the light

Dark kitchens are the multi-block commercial units allowing virtual brands and events companies to prepare and deliver food. They’ve got a mysterious reputation, sometimes also called ghost kitchens, so The Food Chain wanted to see how they have expanded since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this episode, presenter Rick Kelsey speaks to chefs who buy a place in them, and to the owners who build them. Gini and Eccie Newton run Karma Kitchen, one of the fastest growing dark kitchens in Europe. They describe how much it costs to move in, how the model has changed, and respond to the restrictions put in by local governments on the kitchens in Barcelona, France and the Netherlands. Peter Cook is someone who knows the owners of the biggest dark kitchens in the world. He has recently returned from Amsterdam where he ran the Ghost Kitchen conference, and explains how PR around the kitchens is improving as they become more open spaces. And Yousif Kurdi runs Your Kitchen across the Netherlands, including in Amsterdam. He tells Rick how working with the locals is always good for business.(Picture: A woman packing a paper delivery bag. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)Presented and produced by Rick Kelsey
29/03/2327m 55s

What do medics really eat?

Long days, unsociable hours, a hectic and pressurised workload – the working environment for health care staff is full of challenges. Maintaining a healthy diet in those conditions is tough. Two shift workers talk honestly about what they eat on the job, and get advice from a dietician. Ruth Alexander speaks to Scott Christmas, who’s on his eighth year of overnight shifts, to Tom Gibbons, a paramedic, and to Dr Linia Patel, dietician and performance nutritionist. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: A pair of hands holding a stethoscope and an apple. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
23/03/2327m 2s

How to photograph food

Anyone who has taken a photo of their plate in a restaurant knows how hard it is to make food look good on camera. An industry is dedicated to advertising food products on TV, online and in print. What does it take to make a burger look delicious, desirable and realistic? And, most importantly, is any of the food in adverts real? In this programme, Ruth Alexander meets a food stylist, a food photographer, and a director of food commercials, who share their industry’s tips and tricks. She’s joined by stylist Claire Ferrandi Smythe in Johannesburg, South Africa, photographer Sue Atkinson in London, United Kingdom and food commercials director Steve Giralt in New York, United States, who has made a name for himself with flying food and robots. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: A hand lifting a slice from a pizza with cheese, peppers, mushrooms and meat. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
16/03/2327m 11s

A taste of home

Facing the trauma of having to abandon your home because of war or climate change, how do you find solace in food that is no longer your own? There are 10 million registered refugees in the world – probably many more - who are living this reality. In this episode, Ruth Alexander speaks to two families – one Afghan, one Ukrainian - who know what it’s like to lose their food; and to Allison Oman Lawi, deputy director of nutrition at the World Food Programme. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Rumella Dasgupta. (Image: a selection of dishes enjoyed by an Afghan family living in the UK. Credit: BBC)
09/03/2331m 19s

The joy of feeding birds

Humans have been accidentally feeding wild birds for millennia; any leftover food scraps to be scooped up by opportunistic, feathered friends. The deliberate feeding of birds, however - placing seeds out on a feeder in the garden, taking crumbs to a nearby park or lake – is a more recent, cultural phenomenon. In some countries, it has deep significance and one of the most popular ways humans interact with wild animals – and it’s big business. In other places, it’s practically unheard of. So, why do humans feed wild birds? In this programme, Ruth Alexander delves into the many aspects of this human-animal interaction and asks the question; who’s benefiting more, the birds or us? Ruth speaks to urban ecologist, Dr Darryl Jones, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and to keen bird feeders Dan DeBaun, in Minnesota, US; Fung Sing Wong in Singapore; Bylgja Valtýsdóttir in Reykjavík, Iceland; and Antony Tiernan, in Surrey, UK. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Blue tit on garden feeder. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
02/03/2332m 29s

Feeding the VIPs

How do you make Michelin Star-level food, for hundreds of people, in a kitchen you just built in someone’s garden, and with no access to cooking gas? That’s just a typical scenario facing chefs in the world of high end mass catering. In this episode, we hear from John Downey, the Catering Manager at the Web Summit tech conference, on the pressures of feeding high profile figures, and VIPs who've spent $26,000 on a ticket. We also hear from Matt and Ted Lee, authors of the book Hot Box: Inside catering, the food world's riskiest business. They tell us about the stresses and often extraordinary challenges of providing high end food, at scale, at some of the USA’s most fancy weddings and galas.Presenter: Marie Keyworth Producer: Sarah Treanor(Picture: A chef's hand, putting the final touches to some dishes. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
23/02/2328m 5s

The growth of food banks in Africa

Food banks have operated for decades in North America and Europe. They are generally operated as non profits, connecting food businesses that have waste with individuals, families and charities that need food. In 2006 there was just one African food bank in Egypt. A second opened in South Africa in 2009. Today there are around twenty five across the continent. In this programme we look at how African countries have adapted food banks to their needs, and hear how they address criticisms that the food bank model itself is flawed when it comes to addressing food poverty. We ask Nairobi based reporter Michael Kaloki to spend a day with Food Banking Kenya, and its founder and CEO John Gathungu. Michael visits their warehouse storage, meets small holder farmers donating surplus food, and speaks to women living in some of Nairobi’s informal settlements that rely on food donations. Ruth Alexander speaks to Elijah Addo, who founded one of Africa’s first food banks in 2015, Food for All Africa in Ghana. Gaby Kafarhire at The Global FoodBanking Network, based in Chicago in the United States, talks about the particular challenges African food banks face. And researcher Gareth Haysom at the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town shares his concerns about the current system. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. Additional reporting by Michael Kaloki in Nairobi. (Image: a food bank worker lifting a crate of vegetables onto a truck. Credit: BBC)
16/02/2331m 29s

What's the best pasta shape?

Spaghetti, penne, farfalle, gnocchi, lasagna – just a few of the 300-plus shapes of pasta in existence. And there are some very strong opinions about them. This Italian staple is one of the world’s most popular foods and one of the most versatile. In this programme, Ruth Alexander delves into the history, culture and passions of pasta-making to ask a controversial question – what is the best pasta shape? She speaks to restaurateur Elisa Cavigliasso and chef Giulia Martinelli, from The Pasta Factory in Manchester, UK; pasta historian Luca Cesari, in Bologna, Italy; pasta shape inventor and host of the Sporkful podcast, Dan Pashman, in New York; and Andrea Butti, co-owner of Dominioni Pasta, a pasta machine manufacturer near Como, Italy. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: Nine small piles of different pasta shapes. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
09/02/2333m 54s

What's the big deal about fine dining?

Noma – considered by some to be the ‘world’s best restaurant’ - has announced it will close in 2024. The news has prompted headlines around the world and a renewed discussion about the culture of fine dining, and whether it is sustainable as a business model. In this programme, Ruth Alexander asks ‘what’s the big deal about fine dining?’. Is it an industry that exists only for the very wealthy, or do its innovations and trends affect how we all eat? Ruth is joined by Pete Wells, restaurant critic for The New York Times, who ate at Noma in Copenhagen in 2018. Food historian Dr Rachel Rich at Leeds Beckett University in the UK talks about the history of fine dining, and the celebrity chefs of the 19th century. Chef Sarah Francis knows what it is like to be at the top of your game but want to do something different – in 2018 she and her partner gave back the Michelin star awarded to their restaurant The Checkers in Wales. And BBC World Service listeners and self-confessed ‘foodies’, Casey Griffiths in the UK and Pamela Garelick in Greece, tell Ruth about their best and worst fine dining experiences. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup.
02/02/2328m 46s

Why can’t my child swallow?

To feed a child is fundamental to a parent, it’s instinct. But what if your baby can’t swallow?After receiving lots of emails to a programme we made on dysphagia – or swallowing difficulties – we were asked to explore the condition as it affects children.In this edition, Ruth Alexander speaks to parents Kelly Rose, in the UK, and Melanie and Sean Hoffman in Canada, about how they manage their children's conditions and their relationship with food; and to a doctor, Professor Hamdy El-Hakim, who is on a mission to ensure dysphagia is better understood. And we hear from the children themselves. Three-year-old Bodhi and five-year-old Ophelia share their thoughts about food.If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: Bodhi and his mother Kelly Rose. Credit: Kelly Rose/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
26/01/2330m 54s

The ghost writers

Who wrote the cook books on your kitchen shelves? For many celebrity chefs, a cook book, or several, is an obvious way to extend their brand. But if they don’t have the time or the skills to write one, they may hire a ghost writer or co-author to work with them. It’s not just writing, the work can involve project management, recipe testing, meeting deadlines and handling some big egos. Sometimes writers are credited on the cover of the book, sometimes in the introduction, sometimes not at all. In this programme Ruth Alexander meets two people who have worked as ghost writers on cookbooks. JJ Goode lives in New York in the United States; he’s credited on the cover of many celeb chef cookbooks, and recently won a prestigious James Beard award for the book he wrote with Gregory Gourdet, ‘Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health’. Signe Johansen is a Norwegian American trained chef and food writer living in London; she worked as a ghost writer on cookbooks early in her career before publishing her own, such as ‘Solo: The Joy of Cooking for One’. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: ghostly-looking open book. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
19/01/2329m 35s

The opera singer's diet

Opera is viewed as something of an endurance sport in the musical world. Hours spent on stage, in costume, doing a very physical job far away from home comforts can take its toll on the body if it’s not adequately fuelled. As Ruth Alexander discovers in this programme, diet is of paramount importance to a professional singer. Sopranos Rachel Nicholls and Lucy Schaufer, and Fred Plotkin - opera and food writer and friend of Luciano Pavarotti – share the secrets of the relationship between singing and sustenance, and what foods can help achieve a star performance. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukThe piece of music at the start and end of this programme is If Music be the Food of Love, by Henry Purcell. Performed by Rachel Nicholls.(Picture: Pavarotti eating from a spoon. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
12/01/2329m 16s

Chefs who changed course

Working as a chef can be creative and rewarding when people love your food, but it can also be demanding, requiring long and antisocial hours. In this programme we hear about the highs and lows of working in some of the world’s best kitchens, and why it ultimately isn’t right for everyone. Ruth Alexander speaks to three chefs who chose to leave the profession. Former head chef Philip Barantini in the UK is now a TV and film director, his film Boiling Point, released in 2021 is about a chef struggling to run a successful restaurant. Genevieve Yam left behind Michelin starred restaurants in New York to become a food writer, she’s currently culinary editor at the website Serious Eats. Riley Redfern was a pastry chef in Michelin starred restaurants in San Francisco and New York, having lost her job in the pandemic, today she has a new career as a software developer. If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in this programme, such as alcohol and drug dependance, you can access support via the BBC Action Line page - https://www.bbc.co.uk/actionline/ Excerpts from Boiling Point used courtesy of Vertigo Releasing. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: chef cooking with open flame in frying pan in a professional kitchen. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
05/01/2327m 34s

Cooking with love

Why hold on to an old clay pot, a worn-out metal spoon, or a plain glass bowl? Earlier this year, we made a programme celebrating old and cherished cookware and received a huge response from World Service listeners. So, in this edition, Ruth Alexander hears your stories of the poignance that can be found in the most unassuming kitchen utensil, and explores a few other tales we’ve uncovered of cooking with love. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukProducer: Elisabeth Mahy Researcher: Siobhan O'Connell
29/12/2227m 40s

A Ukrainian table at Christmas

Ukrainian cookbook writer Olia Hercules reflects on why it's important to mark this festive season, and the traditional dishes she’ll be serving at the Christmas table in London this year. Ruth Alexander speaks to Olia and her Russian born friend and fellow food writer, Alissa Timoshkina, to discuss how these food traditions have developed and how relatives and friends will be marking Christmas in the war-torn country, ten months on from Russia’s invasion. Ruth also sits down with a Ukrainian family of refugees and their British hosts in Blackburn in the North of England to find out what will be on their Christmas table this year, and what it’s like to be separated from loved ones at this time. For Mariya Dmytrenko and her children, Krystina and Artem, and their hosts Brian and Julie Lamb, food has provided opportunities to bond and learn about each other’s cultures as they share a home. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander Produced by Beatrice Pickup (Image: Mariya Dmytrenko and her children Krystina and Artem in Brian and Julie Lamb’s kitchen in Blackburn England. Credit: BBC)
22/12/2231m 4s

Hard to swallow

Can you imagine what you would miss if you lost the ability to eat? Swallowing is something most of us take for granted, but around 8% of the general population are believed to experience some difficulty swallowing – known as dysphagia. In this programme, Ruth Alexander talks to one of the estimated hundreds of millions of people who have struggled with swallowing food and drink, and to those who are trying to make the condition better understood. She speaks to California-based Sonia Blue, who lost the ability to swallow after having surgery; chef Niamh Condon, in Cork, Ireland; and Professor Bronwyn Hemsley, head of speech pathology at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Always seek advice from a qualified health care professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: Pureed apple on a spoon. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
15/12/2229m 30s

Why does Africa import a lot of food?

2022 has seen record food prices. Many African countries have been badly hit because they import their staples – wheat, rice and oil. A lack of infrastructure and capacity in some countries means that food grown in Africa is often not processed into packaged food products, instead those items are imported from outside of the continent. In this programme we speak to two women who run food businesses in Zambia and Ghana, to talk about the impact of rising food costs, and whether this year’s food crisis could be the impetus for Africa to be more self-sufficient. Ruth Alexander is joined by Monica Musonda, founder and CEO of Java Foods, which manufactures fortified noodles and cereal products in Zambia and Yvette Ansah who owns two restaurants, Café Kwae and Kwae Terrace in Accra, Ghana, BBC West Africa business reporter Nkechi Ogbonna joins from Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy by gross domestic product to talk about the impact of rising food costs there. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: aerial view of a large ship transporting rice, unloading cargo onto smaller ships. Credit: Getty/BBC)
08/12/2227m 22s

Eggonomics

Eggs – a nutritious and affordable source of protein. Or they were. The cost of a box of eggs has been rocketing around the world. And in some places, where it’s long been common to start the day on an egg – supplies are under pressure. In this programme, Ruth Alexander explores the challenges egg producers are facing - including what can be done about the seemingly ever-present threat of avian influenza. She speaks to Amanda Mdodana, a poultry farmer in Mpumalanga, South Africa; Phillip Crawley, a poultry farmer in Leicestershire, UK; Mark Jacob, poultry and egg economist in Arkansas, US; and Professor Munir Iqbal, head of the Avian Influenza Virus group at the Pirbright Institute, UK. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: A chicken standing next to an egg. Credit: Getty/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
01/12/2226m 59s

Samuel Ikua: Global Youth Champion 2022

Samuel Ikua is championing urban farming in his city, Nairobi in Kenya. Samuel undertook an urban farming course in 2015, run by a local NGO called the Mazingira Institute. Seven years later Samuel is the project coordinator at the institute, training other members of his community in urban farming skills. In this programme Ruth Alexander hears about the challenges Samuel faces, a lack of space and land, and local attitudes to farming in a big city. Samuel’s commitment to food security in Nairobi saw him chosen by a panel of international judges as the winner of The Food Chain Global Youth Champion Award 2022. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. Additional reporting by Michael Kaloki in Nairobi.(Image: Sameul Ikua. Credit: Timothy Ivusah/ BBC)
24/11/2228m 34s

Food as rehabilitation

Food behind bars is not intended to be a Michelin-starred affair. But prison food reformers claim some of it is so bad that it could be hampering the rehabilitation of inmates. Nutritious and tasty meals, they argue, can improve the physical and mental health of those serving prison sentences and therefore cut reoffending rates. And food skills; like cookery, baking and farming, could help in the rehabilitation process too. In this programme, Ruth Alexander speaks to three people with detailed knowledge of food in prison environments to explore the good, the bad and the ugly of eating in incarceration, and the power of food. Ruth speaks to Alex Busansky, head of research centre Impact Justice; Lucy Vincent, founder of the charity Food Behind Bars; and ex-offender, now consultant on prison reform, Sophie Barton-Hawkins. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Prisoner harvests a cabbage grown on prison land. Credit: Getty/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
17/11/2227m 38s

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)
12/11/2226m 28s

Island diets

In this programme we explore the realities of island diets. Ruth Alexander hears how diets are changing, and what this means for population health. Indigenous diets were limited to what grew in the native soil or could be raised or caught in the limited space available. Today imported, often processed foods are becoming increasingly popular. We start in the Faroe Islands, in the North Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and the United Kingdom. Traditionally the Faroese diet is protein heavy, fermented wind dried lamb is a staple and the poor soil makes growing a wide range of vegetables challenging. Reporter Tim Ecott travelled to the Faroe Islands for this programme to report on how diets there have changed. We then look South to the Pacific Islands, starting with the coral atoll nation of Kiribati. The coral ground makes it difficult to grow food to supplement the diet of seafood. Ruth speaks to dietitian and public health nutritionist Dr Libby Swanepoel from the Australian Centre for Pacific Islands Research based at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Libby makes the case for seaweed cultivation to supplement diets and incomes. In contrast the nation of Fiji in the Pacific Ocean has volcanic soils, and an array of fruit and vegetables can be grown. Despite this communities have increasingly turned to imported processed foods, contributing to a health crisis. Sashi Kiran, founder of FRIEND Fiji - the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development – talks about how this can be addressed. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: part of the Kiribati island nation, palm tree covered island surrounded by blue sea. Credit: Getty/BBC)
10/11/2228m 49s

The buffet business

All-you-can-eat restaurants are popular, as are high-end buffets at big weddings and posh hotels. But what’s the trick to making money out of them, and what happens to the leftovers? Ruth Alexander finds out the tricks of the trade with John Wood of catering software company Kitchen Cut, Sandeep Sreedharan of Goa, and Michael Brown of Cosmo, in Manchester, UK. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Hands of someone serving out chicken at a buffet. Credit: Getty/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
03/11/2227m 34s

Forbidden food: The Jews of Spain

Today’s Sephardic Jewish community has its roots in Spain and Portugal. The Hispanic Jews lived for many centuries in those countries but faced increasing persecution in the 13th and 15th Centuries. Many were forced to convert to Christianity, but some secretly continued their Jewish faith and practices. In 1478, the Spanish Christian royalty created the Inquisition, a series of trials aimed at identifying those who had not converted. Food and methods of food preparation are frequently cited as evidence against Jewish people in Spanish Inquisition trial records. Ultimately the Jews were expelled from Spain and they fled to other countries. This was the beginning of a diaspora which carried its Spanish food traditions with it. Ruth Alexander meets three women who have published Sephardic cookbooks reflecting on this turbulent past. Hélène Jawhara Piñer is a French historian and chef, she studied Spanish Inquisition trial records for her book Sephardi: Cooking the History. Stella Hanan Cohen lives in Zimbabwe; in her book Stella’s Sephardic Table she records the cuisine of the Sephardic community that settled on the island of Rhodes, now part of Greece. Genie Milgrom was born in Cuba and lives in Florida in the United States, she found handwritten recipes that had been passed down by generations of women in her family, which she published as ‘The Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers’. Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Beatrice Pickup (Photo: A dish of swiss chard and chickpeas cooked by Ruth Alexander. Credit: BBC)
26/10/2230m 40s

What do astronauts eat?

What are the nutritional challenges, and the highs and lows of food in space? As NASA looks at creating a lunar habitat, and even launching a mission to Mars, how can the right food be prepared and transported to keep astronauts both healthy, and happy? Marie Keyworth speaks to veteran astronaut Nicole Stott, and NASA’s top nutrition expert Scott Smith, who leads the Nutritional Biochemistry Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Marie finds out what it’s really like to eat in zero gravity, and how nutrition is being used to counteract the extreme health impacts of spaceflight on the human body. Studying astronaut diets in space might even help our understanding of nutrition here on earth. Presented by Marie Keyworth. Produced by Sarah Treanor.(Image: astronaut in space holding a burger. Credit: Getty / BBC)
19/10/2228m 18s

Can farmers influence food prices?

Global food prices reached record highs this year due to a combination of factors including the war in Ukraine, rising energy prices and poor harvests. Prices are now falling, but remain higher than last year. In this programme Ruth Alexander talks to three farmers on three different continents, to discuss if they’re profiting from these higher prices, the impact of higher costs, and whether farmers ultimately have any influence over the price we pay in the shops. Ruth is joined by Anne Gitau, a poultry farmer in Nairobi Kenya; John Kelly, a dairy farmer in Country Wicklow Ireland; and Bob Lowe, a beef and barley farmer in Alberta, Canada. The BBC’s Global Trade Correspondent Dharshini David joins the discussion to explain what is happening in global feed and fertiliser markets. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: trays of meat on a butcher’s counter with prices. Credit: Getty/BBC)
12/10/2227m 31s

Inheriting grandma's pan

We may be living in a disposable age, but many of us probably own at least one hand-me-down pot, pan or kitchen utensil. They can be heavy and cumbersome to use but promise quality and reliability - a steadfast companion in the kitchen. They hold sentimental value too: memories of home, of loved ones who have passed, and ancestral traditions. In this programme, Ruth Alexander explores the history of some of these pieces, the sentimental and practical value to their owners, and the stories contained within. She speaks to three amateur cooks: Steven Hopper from Mississippi in the US, Alice Smith from South Wales in the UK, and Amrita Amesur in Hyderabad, India. We would love to hear about your precious pots and pans - please email your stories and pictures to thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: An old saucepan. Credit: Getty/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
05/10/2227m 57s

Who owns seeds?

Today’s seed industry is dominated by a handful of companies. Approximately 60% of the market is controlled by just four companies. Many of the seeds planted by farmers are controlled by international property rights or patents, that limit how they can be used. Court cases have centred around whether farmers have the right to save and reuse seeds for future harvests. In this programme we’ll chart the history of the seed industry, from the 19th century, when the United States government sent seeds in the post to farmers for free, to the growth of genetics in the 20th century which set the foundations for today’s market. Ruth Alexander is joined by Courtney Fullilove, Associate Professor of History at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, United States, and author of ‘Profit of the Earth: the global seeds of American Agriculture'; Frank Terhorst, Head of Strategy and Sustainability in the Crop Sciences Division of Bayer Global, the biggest seed company in the world; Michael Fakhri, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the right to food, and Professor at the Oregon University School of Law in the United States; and Dr Tamene Yohannes, from the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute in Ethiopia, which works with community seed banks around the country. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: a man holding a pile of seeds in two hands. Credit: Getty/BBC)
28/09/2228m 52s

Food for mood

Mental health is a hugely complex issue with many causes. There’s no simple answer, then, when it comes to therapies for conditions like anxiety and depression. But a growing body of research is now supporting a connection between nutrition and mental health - that what you eat can have a role to play in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. It’s an emerging field, but dietary recommendations for patients are already being made in clinical settings. Jordan Dunbar explores the scientific evidence for this, and what a ‘happier diet’ might look like. He speaks to Professor Felice Jacka, Director of the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University in Australia; US psychiatrist Dr Emily Deans; UK-based chef, Daniel Edwards, and nutritionist Dr Nada Benajiba, who’s based in Saudi Arabia. If you've been affected by the content of this programme, information and support is available via the BBC Action Line. Go to https://www.bbc.co.uk/actionline If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Woman holding a pot of mixed berries. Credit: Getty/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
21/09/2230m 33s

The flavourists

Meet the flavourists – the people who bring together art and science to create the flavours in our food. Each crisp, soft drink, or toothpaste flavour has been concocted by someone in a lab who has spent years studying why things taste good. In this programme, Ruth Alexander visits the International Flavour Research Centre at the University of Nottingham in the UK, where flavour chemist Professor Ian Fisk demonstrates machines that can act as an artificial nose and tongue. Historian Dr Nadia Berenstein explains how this profession began and evolved alongside the boom in consumer goods in the 20th century. And we meet a master flavourist at the top of their field – Yukiko Ando Ovesen from Japan, who works for the international flavour and fragrance firm, Firmenich. Presented by Ruth Alexander Produced by Beatrice Pickup (Image: girl eating doughnut with brightly coloured sprinkles. Credit: Getty/BBC)
14/09/2228m 26s

Inside food safety scares

Food contamination is a serious public health problem around the world. The World Health Organisation estimates that 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420,000 die every year. In this episode, Ruth Alexander speaks to some of the people whose lives have been shaped by serious food safety breaches and how they are working to ensure food safety and strengthen our food systems. She speaks to US food policy campaigner, Darin Detwiler, whose son Riley died following an E. coli outbreak in 1993, food safety consultant Lone Jespersen, and Tina Potter, head of incidents at the Food Standards Agency for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: Scientist inspecting meat sample in laboratory. Credit: Getty/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
07/09/2229m 40s

Tomorrow’s food crops

Climate change means that, in many parts of the world, the way we farm is no longer working. We need a larger, more diverse range of crops that perform even when the rains don’t come or, as can also be the case, when too much rain comes. Currently, just 15 crops make up 90% of our energy intake, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. In this programme, we’re meeting people who are trying to develop food crops that might thrive in our changing world. Ruth Alexander visits the Millennium Seed Bank ran by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in the UK, where Dr Chris Cockel explains their work collecting and storing seeds from the wild relatives of our staple crops. Tessa Peters, Director of Crop Stewardship at The Land Institute in Kansas, US, makes the case for creating perennial versions of our crops, in order to preserve soil health. And Dr Rebbie Harawa, regional director, Eastern and Southern Africa at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid-Tropics talks about why a currently underutilised crop – millet – could be help struggling farmers in dry areas. Picture: Close up of millet growing in a field; Credit: BBC/Getty
31/08/2229m 1s

Running a restaurant with your relatives

Running a restaurant is hard enough, but what if there’s family involved? In this episode, Felicity Hannah explores the highs and the lows of family-run eateries; their history, food culture, family dynamics and how they deal with the cut and thrust of business. She heads to Liverpool in the UK, to Europe’s oldest Chinatown, where she meets Terry and Theresa Lim, the owners of the city’s oldest Chinese restaurant. And she pays a visit to a local Italian establishment, to meet brother and sister Paolo and Maria Cillo who, with their other siblings and extended family, are building a burgeoning family food empire in the city. It’s an interesting time for these two restaurants. Italian and Chinese are two of the most exported cuisines in the world, but with growing competition from other popular food cultures, as well as global economic challenges, how are they adapting to changing times? If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: Paolo and Maria Cillo, and Terry and Theresa Lim with their daughter and two grandchildren. Credit: BBC)
24/08/2228m 13s

Liquid gold: The price of cooking oil

Vegetable oil is one of many foods that has seen big price rises in the last year. Not only is it used for cooking and frying, but it’s also in many processed foods such as ready meals, sauces and even desserts. Ukraine and Russia represent the majority of the world’s sunflower oil production, whilst unpredictable weather, poor harvests and lack of labour have led to higher prices in palm, soybean and rape seed oil at the same time. In this programme we hear from food businesses struggling with the price of oil, starting with street food traders in Delhi, India. Felicity Hannah is joined by Kathryn Robinson, Head of Development at FBDC, a UK based company that helps food businesses reformulate their recipes; David Laborde, a French analyst at the International Food Policy Research Institute based in Washington DC, and David Wagner, Executive Chef at the City Line Bar and Grill Restaurant in Albany, New York. Presented by Felicity Hannah. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. Additional reporting by Anish Ahluwalia. (Image: chips cooking in oil in a deep fat fryer. Credit: Getty)
17/08/2227m 6s

What can we do about drought?

Water shortages are getting worse with climate change. In the Horn of Africa, long periods without a rainy season have created a dire situation. The World Food Programme says up to 20 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia could be pushed into hunger by the end of the year. Somalia, which has already witnessed decades of conflict, extreme weather and disease outbreaks, is being particularly hard-hit. Experts believe droughts will become more frequent, longer and more intense, so what can be done to reduce their impact and the damage they inflict? Could there be a global solution to this global problem? Ruth Alexander speaks to Michael Dunford, the United Nations World Food Programme’s regional director for East Africa; Dr Balgis Osman-Elasha, a climate change and green growth expert and regional co-ordinator for the African Development Bank, in Tunisia; and emeritus professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Donald Wilhite, who founded the National Drought Mitigation Center in the United States. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: A woman standing next to her water containers and bottles of water. Credit: Getty/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
10/08/2226m 16s

The food illustrators

Meet the artists tasked with creating pictures that look good enough to eat. If it wasn’t for them, you might not have bought that particular tin of tomatoes or that bottle of wine. Enya Todd, a Chinese illustrator living in the UK, and Rocío Egío, a Spanish illustrator living in Switzerland tell Ruth Alexander how they translate a love of food into irresistible images on a page; while award-winning British botanical illustrator Bridget Gillespie reveals the ups and downs of capturing every exact detail of a fruit or vegetable. Just don’t ask her to paint you a strawberry. Presented by Ruth Alexander Produced by Beatrice Pickup(Picture: an illustration of a dish of paella on a tablecloth, designed by contributor Rocío Egío. Credit: Paella by Rocío Egío)
03/08/2228m 15s

Fuelling a female footballer

Good quality nutrition is key to sporting success. But while plenty of research exists on the impact of nutrition on performance, most of it has been done on male athletes. That’s despite female athletes now making up nearly 50% of participants in professional sport. In the case of female footballers, research shows they could be consuming only half the carbohydrates they need. Not eating enough – or under-fuelling – as it’s known in footballing circles – is thought to be endemic in the women’s game. Experts believe much of that is down to a lack of available information. As the Women's Euros 2022 tournament raises the profile of women's football around the world, Ruth Alexander explores what it takes to fuel a female footballer and how focusing on the particular nutritional needs of sportswomen could make a huge difference to performance. She speaks to professional footballer, Ode Fulutudilu, a forward for the South Africa women’s national team, Aimee O’Keefe, performance nutritionist at Manchester United Women, Dr José Areta, lecturer in sports nutrition at Liverpool John Moore’s University in the UK, and Abbie Smith-Ryan, exercise physiologist and sports nutrition researcher at the University of North Carolina in the US. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Two women playing football in an arena. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) Producer: Elisabeth MahyThe deadline for nominations for the award referenced at the end of this podcast has been extended to 23:00 GMT on Thursday 18th August 2022. *Page updated 28 July 2022 due to entry window extension.
27/07/2228m 26s

Why use food for fuel?

Biofuels are a way to make our cars, lorries and even planes run on renewable fuel. They’re often made from food crops. Globally 7% of cereal crops and 15% of vegetable oil crops are used to make biofuel – according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). As pressure on food prices and supply chains increase, some people are questioning why we turn food into fuel. In this programme we’ll be looking at the history of biofuels, why food crops have been used, and what alternatives may exist. Joining us are Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy at University of California, Berkeley, who is currently serving as a senior advisor for energy and innovation in the Biden administration in the United States; Bernardo Gradin, the founder and CEO of Gran Bio, a company that produces biofuel made from sugar cane waste in Brazil; and Sailaja Nori, Chief Scientific Officer at Sea6 Energy, a company investigating the possibilities of biofuel made from seaweed in India and Indonesia. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. Additional reporting by Ashish Shama.The deadline for nominations for the award referenced at the end of this podcast has been extended to 23:00 GMT on Thursday 18th August 2022. *Page updated 28 July 2022 due to entry window extension. (Image: Field of rapeseed crops behind picture of fuel nozzle. Rapeseed image credit: BBC. Fuel nozzle credit: Matthew Fearn/PA)
20/07/2229m 22s

In search of a food champion

From tackling poverty and hunger, to maggot farming, to harnessing the power of seaweed - since 2017, The Food Chain has been celebrating and rewarding innovation in food. This year, as part of the BBC Food and Farming Awards, we're looking for a new champion who is trying to change the way we deal with our food. With the launch of our 2022 award, Ruth Alexander catches up with two previous winners, school meals project the Akshaya Patra Foundation, and Gabriella D’Cruz, marine conservationist, to find out how their work has progressed and how they are navigating huge global challenges like climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and rising food prices. Do you know a remarkable person aged 18-30 who’s challenging the way we think about food? Nominate them for our Global Youth Champion Award 2022.Find out more and read our terms and privacy notice here: bbc.com/foodchain The deadline for nominations has been extended to 23:00 GMT on Thursday, 18th August 2022. *Page updated 28 July 2022 due to entry window extension If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Picture: Woman holding a plant growing in soil (Credit: Getty/BBC) Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
14/07/2227m 13s

The fungi kingdom

It’s not just fauna and flora, there’s a third, much overlooked kingdom of life – fungi. Fungi are essential for plant and soil health, and therefore our own survival. It’s not just the mushrooms that we eat, in this programme we celebrate fungi in all its forms. Fungi already play important roles in our food production and medicine, scientists are now investigating fungi based solutions for environmental pollution and waste disposal. We’re joined by biologist Merlin Sheldrake in the United Kingdom, author of ‘Entangled Life’, Giuliana Furci, mycologist and founder of the Fungi Foundation, the world’s first non-governmental organisation for the protection of fungi, based in Chile and Danielle Stevenson, a mycologist looking at soil toxicity in the United States. (Picture: fungi growing on a log. Credit: BBC)Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup.
06/07/2230m 5s

Lemn Sissay: My life in five dishes

The internationally acclaimed poet and playwright Lemn Sissay OBE shares the story of his life by recalling five memorable dishes. His is an extraordinary story of family, and identity, lost and found. Born to an Ethiopian mother in the north of England and quickly placed into long-term foster care, Lemn was, for years, deprived of any knowledge of his heritage. His traumatic upbringing and subsequent search for his family and identity have informed much of his award-winning writing. In this programme, he tells Ruth Alexander about five memorable dishes that act as “positioning points” in his life to date. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Lemn Sissay holding a cup of coffee. Credit: BBC) Producer: Elisabeth Mahy Researcher: Siobhan O’Connell
29/06/2228m 26s

Menopause and diet

The menopause can cause all sorts of changes in your body – weight gain, hot flushes, sleeplessness and joint pain amongst others. Can what you eat help ease these symptoms? Officially a woman has reached menopause after 12 months without a period, however the transition itself can take years. Many women are prescribed hormone replacement therapy to tackle some of these symptoms, but lifestyle changes can also be helpful. In this programme we’re joined by three women who have experienced menopause and found some benefits in food. Elizabeth Ward is a registered dietitian based in the United States. She co-wrote a book called ‘The Menopause Diet Plan, A Natural Guide to Managing Hormones, Health and Happiness’. Fiona Staunton is a trained chef in Dublin, Ireland, who offers menopause cookery courses called ‘Fiona’s Food For Life’. Sue Mbaya is a Zimbabwean living in Ethiopia, she works in policy and governance, and presents the podcast ‘Pause for Menopause’. (Picture: woman using hand held fan. Credit: Getty/BBC) Produced by Beatrice Pickup. Presented by Ruth Alexander.
22/06/2228m 30s

What's up with airline food?

Aeroplane food doesn’t have the greatest reputation. Though it might be easy to blame an airline for serving lacklustre meals, the problem is more complex. Ruth Alexander discovers how the physics of flying wreaks havoc on our senses, the extraordinary lengths airlines have gone to try to dress up their food offering, and what it’s like to be the one serving you at your seat. And, she asks, will it ever be possible for all passengers to enjoy a tasty and nourishing meal in the air? Culinary historian, Richard Foss, chef-patron of Kitchen Theory, Jozef Youssef, and flight attendant, Kaylie Kay, join her for the ride. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: Child wearing headphones, eating food on board a plane. Credit: Getty/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
15/06/2227m 56s

The recipe translators

Many chefs reach global status, with international demand for their latest book. Spare a thought for the translators, tasked with making their recipes accessible across barriers of language, culture and cuisine. Translating a recipe isn’t as simple as getting the dictionary out, you need to understand the different terminology and ingredients used in each country, whilst staying true to the original dish. We speak to Rosa Llopis, a Spanish translator who specialises in gastronomy and has translated a number of cookbooks. Cristina Cigognini is an Italian translator who usually specialises in literary translation of novels, but brought her skills to two cook books published by the chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Nawal Nasrallah is an Iraqi living in the US who translates medieval Arabic food texts, bringing those historic recipes to new audiences. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup.
08/06/2227m 39s

Shop like the Queen

As Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II marks 70 years on the throne, we find out how you get a royal warrant. It’s an official seal of approval granted to the suppliers of goods and services to the Royal household. In London we visit one of Britain’s oldest cheese shops, Paxton & Whitfield, established in 1797. Managing director James Rutter tells us about the royal warrants the business has held since Queen Victoria was on the throne. We also visit Windsor, home to Windsor Castle one of the Queen’s many properties and Windsor & Eton brewery, which was awarded a royal warrant in 2018. Owner Will Calvert tells us what it takes to get this royal recognition. Royal Warrant holders can’t tell you much about what the royal household buys or likes, we try to fill in the gaps with royal and social historian Caroline Aston, features writer for Majesty Magazine. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup.
01/06/2227m 19s

Feeding the imagination

What do writers eat to stoke their creative fires? George Orwell is said to have had a penchant for plum pudding, while Agatha Christie was partial to sipping cream while at the typewriter. Food is fuel for an author but also serves as inspiration; often finding its way on to the page. In this episode of The Food Chain, Ruth Alexander speaks to novelists Avni Doshi and Abi Dare about their relationship with food and drink and how that influences their writing. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: Image of an apple and two bananas on a laptop screen. Credit: Getty/BBC)Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
25/05/2227m 15s

How a stoma changed my life

Thinking about how food passes through your body may not be something that crosses your mind, but for people who have had stoma surgery, they’re aware of it at every meal. Tamasin Ford explores what it’s like to live with a stoma bag and how it redefines your relationship with food. We speak to three women who have had lifesaving operations to have a stoma bag fitted. The surgery tends to involve either the small or large intestine, with a stoma creating an opening on the skin of the abdomen to bypass the normal digestion process. Instead digested content is diverted to a pouch, worn on the outside of your body. We find out how they learned to eat again after having surgery, what they're doing to fight the stigma around stomas, and how they’re embracing their new lives with stoma bags. Joining us are Aisha Islam in Saudi Arabia, Alisa Kuivasto in Finland and Gill Castle in the United Kingdom. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Woman with stoma bag. Credit: Getty/BBC) Producer: Sarah Stolarz Presenter: Tamasin Ford
18/05/2227m 10s

The problem with wheat

Wheat is one of the most important grains worldwide: you’ll find it in bread, biscuits, pasta, sauces, sweets and more besides. Indeed, take wheat products off supermarket shelves and they would look rather bare. But recent global events – not least the war in Ukraine - have caused crop prices to soar. Ruth Alexander charts how a humble grass grown in the Fertile Crescent became a commodity traded worldwide, and she explores whether we have become too reliant on this “mega crop” for our food supplies – and what alternatives there might be. She talks to Cathy Zabinski, professor of plant and soil ecology at Montana State University, US; Frank Uekotter, professor of environmental humanities at the University of Birmingham, UK; and Augustine Sensie Bangura, CEO of Sierra Agri Foods, Sierra Leone.If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: An ear of wheat blowing in the wind. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
11/05/2227m 17s

The hot sauce sensations

Hot sauce can inspire fervent passion in its devotees. It’s a global obsession that translates to billions of dollars of sales a year. But with so many on the market, how do you create a taste that becomes a global hit? In this programme, Ruth Alexander explores the origin stories of two iconic brands – Sriracha and Lao Gan Ma. How did these sauces - born in humble circumstances in Vietnam and China in the 1980s - come to sit on dining tables around the world today? We explore their extraordinary stories and ask what their popularity tell us about changing global tastes. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk  (Picture: Large red chilli. Credit: Getty/BBC) Producer: Sarah Stolarz Contributors Stephanie Li, blogger and YouTuber at ‘Chinese Cooking Demystified’ Andrea Nguyen, cookbook author and publisher of Vietworldkitchen.com
04/05/2227m 30s

The cost of 'getting ripped'

The man with carefully sculpted six-pack is everywhere: in Hollywood action films, on magazine front covers, in your social media feed, on dating apps. And so are the online ads telling you how to get the look. But what does it really take to get a washboard stomach? This week, Ruth Alexander hears from three men about the reality of getting ‘ripped’ and how much of it is down to what you eat. They reveal how deeply the experience can affect your relationship with food, your loved ones and yourself (Picture: Male torso ripped in half. Credit: Getty/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Producer: Sarah Stolarz Contributors: Graham Isador, writer Florian Gaffet, massage therapist Matthew Todd, author ‘Straight Jacket: Overcoming Society’s Legacy of Gay Shame’
27/04/2229m 2s

How to date a carnivore

Can the love of eating meat ever get in the way of a relationship? You may have heard the phrase ‘the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach’, but what happens if the foods they eat are wildly different from yours? Tamasin Ford explores what it’s like to date a carnivore. Not just someone who eats meat, but someone who loves meat. Someone who has been brought up to eat meat in every meal. We speak to two couples whose diets can sometimes be the source of their most heated arguments to find out how they navigate meal times and social events. Can tolerance win out over frustration? If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Steak on a plate. Credit: Getty/BBC) Producer: Sarah Stolarz Contributors: Barbara Friend Molly Savard Charlie Pears-Wallace Joe Deeney
20/04/2229m 2s

Tasting climate change

Wine producers say a warming planet can be detected in the glass. The owners of long-established vineyards are having to adapt their methods to preserve the taste of their wines, but experts say change is inevitable and already tangible. Ruth Alexander finds out how climate change is challenging some of the world’s most famous wine regions, while providing opportunities for new producers emerging in the most unlikely places. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: woman holding a glass of wine. Credit: Getty/BBC)Contributors: Sally Evans, Chateau George 7, Bordeaux, FranceDr Greg Jones, wine climatologist and CEO of Abacela vineyards and winery in Oregon, United States Bjorn Bergum, Slinde Vineyard, Sognefjord, Norway
13/04/2227m 2s

Food poverty in a rich country

As food prices are rising around the world, along with the cost of energy, even people living in some of the world’s wealthiest countries are struggling to manage. In this episode, three UK citizens discuss how difficult it can be to feed a family on a low income. Single parents Sue and Dominic tell of how they have had to skips meals themselves to ensure their children are fed, and how food insecurity has at times left them with feelings of shame. And Kayleigh Maughan, the founder of the charity End Holiday Hunger, explains how the donations she relies on to make up the food parcels she sends to families in need are dwindling as supermarkets and households feel the pressure of the rising cost of living. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: hand holding a shopping basket. Credit: Getty/BBC) Contributors: Sue Stalker Dominic Watters Kayleigh Maughan
06/04/2227m 9s

Food in the metaverse

Imagine a world where going out for dinner virtually - from the comfort of your own sofa - becomes the norm. Whether it sounds appealing or dystopian - there are restaurants, chefs and gamers already out there experimenting with food in virtual worlds. Tamasin Ford speaks to the developer of a ‘foodverse’ that will feature everything from virtual dining and cookbook signing experiences to food-based virtual games and we hear from a large US restaurant chain on why they are playing with their customers in the metaverse. But what does a future of virtual worlds mean for the food industry? Will it be a niche pursuit or an invaluable tool? And could it threaten the existence of restaurants in the real world? (Picture: person wearing VR headset. Credit: Getty/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Contributors: Supreet Raju: Co-Founder of OneRare Tressie Lieberman: Vice President of Digital Marketing at Chipotle Michelle Evans: Global Lead of Retail and Digital Consumer Insights at Euromonitor International.
31/03/2228m 11s

A Ukrainian kitchen in London

Chef Olia Hercules invites us into her London home to reflect on her country’s rich culinary heritage and the power of food in even the darkest of times. She opens her well-stocked kitchen cupboards and fridge to reveal the varied flavours, colours and scents of a cuisine she says is often wrongly dismissed as being ‘beige’ or boring. Ruth Alexander joins Olia and her Russian friend and fellow food writer, Alissa Timoshkina, to discuss the close ties between their nation’s traditional dishes, and the importance of the two women’s own personal friendship. The conversation was recorded on Tuesday 8 March; 12 days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Olia Hercules and Alissa Timoshkina. Credit: BBC) Producer: Sarah Stolarz
17/03/2227m 52s

An invisible crime

Slipping drugs or extra alcohol into someone’s drink is a crime, but one that is under-reported and little understood. It’s often thought to take place in bars and nightclubs, but as Ruth Alexander discovers from people who’ve been targeted, it can happen to anyone, at any time. Campaigners explain why myths and misconceptions around drink spiking persist, and we ask what could be done to move the crime out of the shadows and into the open. (Picture: hand holding glass of water. Credit: Getty/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Producer: Elisabeth Mahy Contributors: Clara George, Miss United Kingdom, and campaigner against drink spiking Dr Lata Gautam, associate professor in forensic science, Anglia Ruskin University, UK Dawn Dines, CEO and founder of Stamp Out Spiking
10/03/2226m 50s

The recipe collectors

What is a recipe? A simple question... with many answers. It could be a set of instructions on how to make a dish – but also so much more. Recipes can reveal how we lived in the past, and how we are living today. They are part of our sense of identity, belonging and loss and they are portals we can use to travel to different cultures. This week, Ruth Alexander speaks to three recipe collectors in India, Ghana and the USA to find out why they are preserving their nation’s recipes. What can you learn by documenting these culinary guides? How do you even capture a recipe that has never been written down? And what is at stake if they are lost? (Picture: Cookbook with utensils. Credit: Getty/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Contributors: Abena Offeh-Gyimah, writer and food entrepreneur, Ghana Megan Elias, cultural historian and director of the Gastronomy programme at University of Boston, USA Muskaan Pal, co-founder, Indian Community Cookbook Project at Flame University in Pune, India
03/03/2228m 22s

The online food fighters

Social media is full of fake news about food. Fad diets, cure-all superfoods, demonised ingredients, made-up health scares – you’re never more than a few clicks away from unreliable nutritional information. In this episode, Ruth Alexander meets two people trying to take on those who peddle the food myths. What is it like getting into an online food fight; can an individual ever hope to change people’s minds; and why would anyone even try? (Picture: Hand holding cream pie on man's face. Credit: Getty/BBC) Producer: Sarah Stolarz Contributors: Dr Joshua Wolrich, NHS doctor, nutritionist and author Erin aka Food Science Babe, chemical engineer and food scientist
17/02/2228m 7s

The constipation taboo

It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 7 adults are suffering from constipation at any one time. And yet, talking about the problem is taboo. Ruth Alexander is joined by two experts who want us to be more open about the condition. They say our reluctance to talk about constipation is having an impact on our well-being and creating a costly burden on health services. Find out why a balanced and varied diet will help many people avoid the problem, but not all; and why prunes – a famous remedy – can actually make it worse. Plus, a historian traces how we came to be so reticent about our toilet habits; and how constipation may have had a decisive role at numerous turning points in history. If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Closed airplane toilet door. Credit: Getty/BBC) Contributors: Anton Emmanuel, University College Hospital London and the National Hospital for Neurology and NeurosurgeryLouise Foxcroft, medical historian and author Miguel Toribio-Mateas, School of Applied Sciences at London South Bank University.
10/02/2231m 38s

The sisters who can 'taste' words

Imagine being able to ‘taste’ every word that comes out of your mouth. Everything you or someone else says provoking something in your brain to kick your taste buds into action. It sounds incredulous, but for a tiny proportion of the world’s population, that is their reality. It’s a neurological phenomenon called synaesthesia, where two or more senses merge. Tamasin Ford meets two sisters from Glasgow, Scotland, who have had the condition for as long as they can remember. They share what it’s like to live with this explosion of taste at every waking moment. But how and why does it happen? We try to unpick the science behind it and take a look at what synaesthesia could tell us about how we experience taste and flavour. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Keyboard letters in a soup bowl. Credit:Getty/BBC) Contributors:Julie McDowall and Jennifer McCready Guy Leschziner, author and Professor of neurology and sleep medicine at King's College London.
03/02/2228m 0s

Cancer, food and me

Can you imagine suddenly finding that it hurts to eat? Or that when you take a bite of your favourite meal you feel nothing? In this episode, we’re talking about something that isn’t much talked about: what happens to your relationship with food when you’ve got cancer. Ruth Alexander is joined by three women who want you to know about a side effect of treatment that they weren’t fully prepared for - the loss of their sense of taste. They share how what is a relatively minor detail, given a devastating diagnosis, nevertheless had a huge effect on their everyday routine, their interactions with family and friends, their sense of self. Hear how they learned to cope and how, out of the depths of this distressing experience, came a new appreciation of the everyday. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Grapefruit with pills coming out of it. Credit: Getty/BBC) Producer: Sarah Stolarz Contributors: Heather McCollum Semira Oguntoyinbo Angharad Underwood
27/01/2227m 20s

How not to feed a dog

How do you feed a dog? The answer may be more fraught than you had imagined. Should you give them ‘dog food’? Is it a step too far to feed them at the table? And can man’s best friend thrive on a vegetarian diet? we bring together three dog-loving experts from the UK, India and the USA to analyse what dog feeding reveals about our relationship with animals and even our own relationship with food. Be prepared to hear some surprises, some empowering advice and maybe some uncomfortable home truths. And even if you don’t have a dog, you may get some ideas that you can apply to your own life. If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(Picture: dogs licks lips. Credit: Getty/BBC)Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Sarah Stolarz Contributors: Shirin Merchant, dog trainer and behaviourist in Mumbai, India Louise Glazebrook, dog trainer and behaviourist in London, UK Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado Boulder, USA
20/01/2228m 17s

Sleep, eat, repeat?

A lack of sleep might leave us tired, but it can also have a major impact on what we eat, and our health. Ruth Alexander explores the surprising relationship between diet and a poor night’s rest, and learns that it’s not just what we’re eating, but when: we hear about the perils of consuming calories late into the evening or, even worse, overnight. But it’s not all bad news: there’s growing research into the idea that we might be able to improve our sleep quality by tweaking our diets. If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.Producer: Simon Tulett Contributors: Tania Whalen, fire brigade despatcher, Melbourne, Australia; Matthew Walker, University of California, Berkeley, USA; Maxine Bonham, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, USA.(Picture: A young girl asleep on a plate of spaghetti. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
13/01/2232m 48s

So, you think you can quit caffeine?

Caffeine is a key ingredient in some of our favourite foods and drinks, but it’s also a mind-altering drug that can be very tricky to quit. Tamasin Ford meets three people who’ve tried to cut caffeine out of their lives by eliminating some of its main sources from their diets - coffee, tea and chocolate. We hear about some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, social awkwardness, and the struggle to adapt to life without a caffeine high. How long did they stay caffeine-free? If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.Producers: Simon Tulett and Sarah StolarzContributors: Petteri Rantamäki, business software professional, Helsinki, Finland; Abigail James, aesthetician and author, London, UK; John Horgan, science journalist, New York, USA.(Picture: A young woman holding a cup of coffee. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
06/01/2229m 30s

The Food Chain unwrapped

In this final episode of 2021, we're revisiting some of the most powerful food stories from the pandemic. Following widespread restaurant closures and labour shortages across the hospitality sector, we catch up with a New York chef who is forging a new path. And what about those people who thanks to Covid-19 can’t even smell or taste their food anymore? We’ll be finding out whether this leading symptom of the virus is now better understood. Plus, how is one of the world’s newest emojis – the arepa flatbread - faring, one year on? (Picture: Drawing of sweet being unwrapped. Credit: BBC/Getty) If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Contributors: Amanda Cohen, Chef and owner, Dirt Candy restaurant New York Chrissi Kelly, founder, smell and taste loss charity AbScent Sebastian Delmont, software developer and co-creator of the arepa emoji
30/12/2127m 4s

Why I chose to live on rations

World War Two rationing imposed severe restrictions on food, so why would anyone voluntarily go back to it? Ruth Alexander meets three women who chose to adopt the diet endured in 1940s and 1950s Britain, one of them for an entire year. We hear how such scarcity inspired creativity, a reverence for the ingenuity of wartime cooks, and an enduring change of perspective on the responsibility of the 21st century food consumer. If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.Producer: Simon TulettContributors: Karen Burns-Booth, food writer - www.lavenderandlovage.com/category/recipes/general-recipes/wartime-recipes Claud Fullwood, author of The Rations Challenge: Forty Days of Feasting in a Wartime Kitchen Carolyn Ekins, blogger - https://the1940sexperiment.com(Picture: Basket of food rations on display at the Imperial War Museum, London, in 2011. Credit: Paul Kerley/BBC)
23/12/2127m 25s

An alternative Christmas

What dish says Christmas to you - roast turkey, goat? Carp perhaps? What about fried chicken? In Japan nothing says ‘festive family food’ more than a bucket of KFC fried chicken. And if you’re Jewish and from the US, a Christmas meal will almost certainly mean a trip to Chinatown. Ruth Alexander unearths the origin stories of these two unlikely, but incredibly popular, - alternative Christmas food traditions, and finds out how food can help give you a sense of belonging, even if celebrating Christmas isn’t for you. (Picture: Bucket of fried chicken and bowl of Chinese food. Credit: Getty/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk Contributors: Nina Li Coomes, writer based in Chicago, USA Rabbi Joshua Plaut, author ‘A Kosher Christmas: ‘Tis the Season to be Kosher’. Producers: Sarah Stolarz and Simon Tulett
16/12/2128m 17s

(Film) Set menu

Catering on film and TV sets is notorious for being one of the toughest jobs in the hospitality industry. Imagine feeding hundreds of people in a different location every day, running your kitchen in some of the world’s most remote places, and accommodating the varied diets of the planet’s biggest stars. Tamasin Ford speaks to three caterers to find out what it takes to succeed in Hollywood, Bollywood, and the world of reality TV, and finds out how vital food can be to the success of a shoot. If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.Producer: Simon TulettContributors:Sid Ghai, director of Ghai Caterers Ltd, London; Antonia Crowley, executive chef and event stylist at Flying Trestles, Auckland; Wayne Brown, co-founder of Red Radish, London.(Picture: A stack of pizza boxes next to a film director's chair. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
09/12/2127m 32s

How rationing changed me

Rationing looms large in the memories of a generation who lived through World War Two. Basic groceries were limited and getting enough food on the table became a daily challenge that went on long after the last bombs fell. Ruth Alexander brings together a German and an English woman, who grew up on opposite sides of the world’s deadliest ever conflict, to share their recollections of wartime eating. What was it like struggling to find food, how did they adapt, and how has it changed their approach to food forever? (Picture: Ingeborg Schreib-Wywiorski and Beryl Kingston, Credit: BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email thefoodhchain@bbc.co.uk Contributors: Ingeborg Schreib-Wywiorski and Beryl Kingston. Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Sarah Stolarz
02/12/2127m 29s

Gabriella D'Cruz: Global Youth Champion

Gabriella D’Cruz, from Goa, wants to improve diets, transform livelihoods, and protect the planet using an often-overlooked marine vegetable - seaweed.Ruth Alexander speaks to the 29-year-old about her big plans for the underwater crop, and her hope that it could bring lasting economic and environmental change to India’s coastal communities. Gabriella’s passion and her project’s potential saw her chosen by a panel of international judges as the winner of The Food Chain Global Youth Champion Award 2021.If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.Producer: Simon TulettContributors:Gabriella D'Cruz, founder of The Good Ocean; Ismahane Elouafi, chief scientist at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.(Picture: Gabriella D'Cruz in the sea holding a basket of seaweed. Credit: Gabriella D'Cruz/BBC)
25/11/2128m 36s

How a new cuisine is born

How is a new cuisine created? Ruth Alexander explores two unique cuisines in South Africa and the USA: ‘Cape-Malay’- a 300-year old tradition born out of colonialism and slavery that unites Indonesian and Dutch tastes; and ‘Viet-Cajun’ - a more recent phenomenon that has seen the Vietnamese diaspora experimenting with Cajun flavours in Texas. We explore how history’s darkest episodes can lead to some of the most captivating flavour combinations and ask why some people will cringe at the term ‘fusion food’. (Picture: Pot lid being opened. Credit: Getty/BBC)If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukContributors:Cass Abrahams: Chef and Author, Cape Town, South Africa Mai Pham: Food writer, Houston, USA
18/11/2128m 21s

How to cope with cooking burnout

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic some people discovered a solace and comfort in cooking, but for many others the opposite was true - the joy they had once felt in the kitchen evaporated.Tamasin Ford speaks to three formerly passionate cooks to find out what it’s like to lose the love of the thing you enjoy doing the most.What’s really behind their ‘cooking burnout’, how have they tried to reignite that spark, and has this experience changed their relationship with food for good?If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.Producer: Simon TulettContributors: Helen Rosner, food correspondent for The New Yorker, New York, USA; Yamini Pustake Bhalerao, author and ideas editor at shethepeople.tv, Pune, India; Wayne Barnard, chef and ambassador for The Burnt Chef Project, Cardiff, Wales.(Picture: A woman making cookies. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
11/11/2128m 27s

One small change

The pressure to tackle climate change by altering what we eat is huge, and it can be a daunting prospect. But you don’t have to go vegan, shop 100 per cent local, or start your own allotment to make a difference. This week, as world leaders gather for a key climate conference in Glasgow, we’re asking you what small changes you’ve made to your everyday food habits to make them a little bit greener. Plus, Tamasin Ford hears from a chef in Nigeria about the special role he thinks the professionals have to play, and we ask for one life-changing piece of advice from an expert and writer on food waste.(Picture: Hand reaches for apple, Credit: Getty/BBC)If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukContributors:Michael Elégbèdé: chef, ÌTÀN Restaurant and Test Kitchen in Ikoyi, Nigeria Tamar Adler: author ‘An Everlasting Meal’, New York, USAAnd Food Chain listeners:Annabell Randles: London, UK Mike Hoey: Berkely, California Simone Osman: Maputo, Mozambique Yael Straver Laris: Geneva, Switzerland Kate Minogue: Lewes, UK Karine Young: Cape Town, South Africa Jeremy Okware, Uganda Rebecca Neo: Singapore
04/11/2128m 57s

A farmer's nightmare

The UK food industry relies on foreign workers, but what happens when they stop coming? A combination of COVID-19 and Brexit has led to fewer workers available to pick, process and transport food. For some farmers it has led to heartbreaking dilemmas. Tamasin Ford speaks to two pig farmers who face having to kill thousands of healthy pigs, and a salad farmer who has seen millions of lettuce heads rot in his fields.(Picture: farmer in field, Credit: Getty/BBC)If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukContributors: Vicky Morgan, pig farmer, Pockthorpe Hall Farm, East Yorkshire, UK Kate Morgan, pig farmer, Pockthorpe Hall Farm, East Yorkshire, UK Nick Ottewell, Farming and Commercial Director at LJ Betts Ltd, Kent, England
22/10/2126m 59s

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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.Producer: Simon TulettContributors: 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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukProducer: Simon TulettContributors: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 GrisafiIf 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 www.bbc.com/foodchainIf you would like to get in touch with the show, please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukProducer: 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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukProducers: 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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 StolarzContributors: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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 TulettContributors: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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 TulettContributors:Dee Caffari; Billy White; Benoit LecomteIf you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukContributors: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 TulettIf you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukContributors: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 TulettIf you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukContributors: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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukContributors: 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 TulettIf you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 TulettIf you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 StolarzIf you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukProducers: Simon Tulett and Sarah StolarzContributors: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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukContributors: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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.Contributors:Wawira Njiru: Founder and Executive Director, Food for EducationCarmen Burbano: Director of the World Food Programme’s School Feeding DivisionDr. 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 StolarzContributors: 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 entrepreneurIf you would like to get in touch with the show, please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk
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 FirstWeEat.ca until 1 February 2021.If you would like to get in touch with The Food Chain please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 StolarzIf you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk
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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukContributors: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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukContributors: 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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.ukContributors: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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoochain@bbc.co.uk.(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 HainesLet us know what you think about the show - email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 HainesLet us know what you think about the show - email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 HainesLet us know what you think about the show - email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk 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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoochain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.(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 thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.(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 www.befrienders.org(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

Dynasties

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 ThomasThis 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 2018Blockchain 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