The Food Chain

By BBC World Service

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

Episode Date
José Andrés: My Life in Five Dishes
1589
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)
Aug 15, 2018
Kelis: My Life in Five Dishes
1595
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’. This programme was first broadcast on the 24th May 2018. (Photo: Kelis in the bath tub, Credit: David Loftus, My Life On A Plate)
Aug 08, 2018
Claudia Roden: My Life in 5 Dishes
1589
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 standing in front of one of her paintings. Credit: BBC)
Aug 02, 2018
Gordon Ramsay: My Life in Five Dishes
1589
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: Robyn Beck/Getty Images)
Jul 26, 2018
Antonio Carluccio: My Life in Five Dishes
1589
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 at his home in London. Credit: BBC)
Jul 19, 2018
Madhur Jaffrey: My Life in Five Dishes
1588
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: Penguin Books)
Jul 12, 2018
Jeremiah Tower: My Life in Five Dishes
1589
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 in a New York kitchen, Credit: BBC)
Jul 04, 2018
#MeToo Food
1589
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).
Jun 28, 2018
The Real Junk Food
1598
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)
Jun 21, 2018
Pony Tales
1668
Should we eat more horse meat? In some parts of the world it is a food taboo, while in others people think little of munching an equine burger. Would it be better for our health and that of the planet if we ate more of it? We’re at a pony auction in the English countryside where some rather hairy creatures are going for a song. Could turning them into sausages and steak be the best way to add value? From there we travel to Paris to find out why the French are losing their taste for horse meat, we find out if it could be more sustainable and healthier than beef, and examine the roots of the world's horse meat taboos. Presenter: Emily Thomas This programme first aired in October 2017 (Picture: Exmoor Pony. Credit: Getty Images)
Jun 06, 2018
I am the Bread Man
1619
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)
May 30, 2018
Kelis: My Life in Five Dishes
1589
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 in the bath tub, Credit: David Loftus, My Life On A Plate)
May 24, 2018
Critical Mass Catering
1589
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)
May 16, 2018
Absolute Food: Part II
1597
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).
May 09, 2018
Absolute Food: Part I
1589
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)
May 03, 2018
Fussy Old World
1596
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)
Apr 26, 2018
Claudia Roden: My Life in Five Dishes
1589
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)
Apr 20, 2018
Food Confidential
1620
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)
Apr 11, 2018
Eating Blockchain
1631
*This is a repeat of a programme that first aired on 22nd February 2018 Blockchain technology has been heralded as the answer to a safer, fairer and more transparent food system. Many companies, from global food giants to start-ups, have begun to experiment with it. But can blockchain really disrupt the global food industry or is it just a gimmick? Emily Thomas meets some pioneers of this new technology, who explain why they think it will change the way we eat. (Picture: Light from broken egg, Credit: Getty Images)
Apr 04, 2018
A Poisonous Business
1608
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)
Mar 29, 2018
Do Not Feed the Animals
1620
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)
Mar 22, 2018
This Food Will Save Your Life*
1635
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)
Mar 07, 2018
Eat, Stay, Love
1612
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)
Mar 01, 2018
The New Animals
1610
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)
Feb 15, 2018
The Pig Problem
1574
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)
Feb 08, 2018
The Food Pilgrims
1618
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)
Feb 01, 2018
I Can't Taste!
1618
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)
Jan 25, 2018
Gordon Ramsay: My Life in Five Dishes
1604
Chef Gordon Ramsay is world-famous but, he tells us, people no longer want to talk about his food. The celebrity has become known as much for his cookery programmes, his fiery temper and explosive outbursts, as for his culinary skills. This week, the focus is back on the food, as Gordon speaks to Emily Thomas about the five most memorable meals he has ever had and how they have shaped him as a chef - from his mother’s macaroni and cheese on a council estate in the West Midlands, to smuggled cheese soufflés at Le Gavroche. Gordon's dishes are: Mum's Mac and Cheese with smoked bacon; soufflé Suissesse at Le Gavroche; braised pigs' trotters with cabbage at Casa Del Pescatore near Verona; rum baba at Le Louis XV; and his own chickpea curry. (Photo: Gordon Ramsay. Credit: Robyn Beck/Getty Images)
Jan 18, 2018
In Search of Wine's 'Holy Grail'
1623
Wine has been getting more and more alcoholic in recent decades, driven by consumer tastes and climate change. This has big implications not only for public health, but also the quality of the bottle. But making a lower alcohol wine that is still full of flavour is extremely complicated, especially when growing grapes in rising temperatures – some have called it the profession’s Holy Grail. Emily Thomas meets those trying to solve the puzzle: a Chilean vineyard owner; a climate change and grape variety academic; and an Australian scientist whose raspberry-flavoured Chardonnay could hold the key. (Picture: Wine cellar. Credit: Getty Images)
Jan 11, 2018
The Comedy of Food
1621
Does food ever make you laugh out loud? We try to stand up the theory that food is getting funnier because modern diets make it a richer sauce of comedy. Comedy about food seems to have moved a long way from oddly shaped vegetables and Charlie Chaplin slipping on a banana skin, to something more nuanced. Now we seem to be laughing at the way we eat - with ever more comedy acts, TV programmes and YouTube videos poking fun at diet trends, restaurant customs and cookery shows. Has the way we eat become so obsessive and complicated - that food has quite literally become a laughing stock? Emily Thomas meets comedians JP Sears, Tats Nkonzo and Alex Thomopoulos, and comedy expert Delia Chiaro to explore the comedy potential of food. You know, just for laughs. (Photo: A king feasting alone in a banquet hall. Credit: Getty Images)
Jan 04, 2018
Big Tech Wants Your Food Shop
1588
Technology giants are gobbling up the online grocery market - and over the past year we’ve seen Amazon and Alibaba getting their teeth into bricks and mortar too. But do they want to transform the supermarket experience, or is this about harvesting even more consumer data? And what will all of this mean for farmers, your pocket, and the quality and sustainability of your food? Emily Thomas discusses with Brittain Ladd, a strategy, supply chain and logistics expert who formerly worked for Amazon leading worldwide expansion for Amazon Fresh, Pantry and Groceries; Scott Marlow, senior policy specialist for Rural Advancement Foundation International, a non-profit organization based in North Carolina supporting family farms; and Amanda Long, Director General of Consumers International, which works to empower and champion the rights of consumers. Plus, we visit Farmdrop, a London-based startup which aims to give customers a more ethical online shopping experience. (Photo: a picture of the hand of a young man holding an ice lolly against a pink background. Credit: Getty Images)
Dec 28, 2017
Food Chain: The Quiz 2017
1589
Have you ever wondered what to do with a watermelon outside the kitchen? Or how many hot dogs a person can eat in 10 minutes? It's time to find out with The Food Chain Quiz 2017. Get ready for some strange but wonderful food stories and play along with our two teams: chef Cyrus Todiwala and La Fromagerie founder Patricia Michelson versus food historian Marc Meltonville and Ghanaian food writer and TV cook Fafa Gilbert. Emily Thomas hosts this challenging and at times bizarre battle for the coveted wooden spoon. Rounds include: What Happens Next? What’s this Sound? And back by popular demand …. The Lucky Dip. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Dec 21, 2017
How to Make a Farmer
1616
Fancy a career change? If you're not doing it already, what would it take to make you a farmer? Would smart technology, matchmaking websites or reality TV do it? In our second episode to explore the problem of the world’s ageing agricultural workers Emily Thomas hears about some innovative and surprising attempts to re-brand farming. Is education or technology the answer, does farming need a re-brand, OR is it just too hard for most farmers to make a living - and does the global food system itself need to change? It matters - if the farmers die out, where will you get your food in the future? (Picture: Young farm girl. Credit: Getty Images)
Dec 14, 2017
I Won't Farm!
1678
The average age of farmers globally is thought to be around 60, and rising. So where have all the young farmers gone and who is going to farm our food in the future? It’s an issue that could affect every single one us and the food we eat. Emily Thomas meets families in Kenya, the UK and the Netherlands to find out how farmer’s sons and daughters really feel about taking over the family business. How much of a role do economics, regulations, lifestyle and public perceptions play in driving them from agriculture? This is the first of two episodes to explore why so many young people across the globe are turning away from farming, and what can be done to tempt them back. (Photo: Young woman standing in an empty ploughed field. Credit: Getty Images)
Dec 07, 2017
Where's my African Takeaway?
1670
Why have so few African cuisines made it onto the world’s culinary stage? Whether it's Michelin stars, popular restaurant chains, or even takeaways and street food, the continent’s gastronomy isn’t anywhere near as prominent as Chinese, Italian or Indian in many parts of the globe. Emily Thomas talks to chefs from Nigeria, Senegal and Eritrea to hear what they think is holding their food back from achieving global prominence - is it economics, culture or taste? And what can be done about it? (Photo: Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam displays his food in New York City. Credit: Getty Images)
Nov 30, 2017
The 'Disneyland' of Food?
1589
We're in Bologna, Italy as FICO Eataly World opens its doors to a curious public. Its mission is to educate people about Italian food, and attract 6 million tourists a year. But is a shopping mall really the best way for the Italians to reclaim the authenticity of their food? Italian food is known and loved across the world, but much of what is consumed doesn't actually come from Italy. Could what some are calling 'the Disneyland of food', be the answer to increasing understanding and boosting exports? Emily Thomas takes a trip around the park, speaks to the people behind the project, and visits local producers in Bologna. (Photo: Chef with pasta. Credit: Getty Images)
Nov 23, 2017
Antonio Carluccio: My Life in Five Dishes
1588
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 at his home in London. Credit: BBC)
Nov 16, 2017
The Boundless Ambition of Gum
1589
Chewing gum seems to be on a mission to reinvent itself. There’s little we’re told it can’t do these days - prevent tooth decay, cure hangovers, even improve our vision. As sales of gum flat line, we explore it's ability to take on new guises, and meet people who even believe it can be used to detect cancer and help end malnutrition. Could chewing gum save your life? An expert on food regulation explains why the majority of gums with health claims are rejected, and presenter Emily Thomas meets a man who tried to solve one of gum’s stickiest and costliest problems. Plus we'll ask whether we should we stop working so hard to find a purpose for this food we can't swallow, and find other, more environmentally-friendly solutions? (Photo: Girl with chewing gum. Credit: Getty Images)
Nov 09, 2017
Contain Yourself!
1589
Does your favourite drink taste better from a bottle, cup or can? Are foods enhanced by particular plates, or packaging? Or is it all in your head? Emily Thomas is joined by materials specialist Ellie Doney and food psychologist Charles Spence to find out exactly how the containers we eat and drink from can change the way food tastes. From British fish and chips wrapped in yesterday’s news to clay tea cups in Kolkata and a pot unwashed for decades, we explore some traditional serving methods and find out why we may be discarding more than we think when we throw them away. (Photo: Woman in large cup of coffee. Credit: Getty Images)
Nov 02, 2017
Competitive Eating: Chewing it Over
1619
What happens to your body when you eat 70 hot dogs in 10 minutes, and why would thousands of people watch you do it? We’re exploring the curious appeal of competitive eating, and its impact on our stomachs, minds and society around us. What does the popularity of eating competitions tell us about our changing relationship with food? And why do humans appear to have such an appetite for watching other people regurgitate it? In the second episode to explore the curious appeal of competitive eating, presenter Emily Thomas gives it a go, and speaks to a doctor about the potential risks. We find out what goes on inside the body of a speed eater and just how big their stomachs get. Is it nature or nurture that allows people to consume such vast quantities of food? We also hear from a man who says competitive eating helped him get over anorexia nervosa, and find out what a psychiatrist thinks. Competitive eating can be dangerous, especially outside of a controlled environment, so please do not try this at home.
Oct 19, 2017
Competitive Eating: The 'Gurgitators'
1632
We speak to some of the world's most successful competitive eaters and find out how, and why, they do it. In the first of two episodes on the so-called sport, four ‘gurgitators’ tell us what it takes to eat the most hot dogs, corncobs or burgers in the shortest possible time. This is not something you should try at home. Emily Thomas speaks to one of the industry's biggest names, Takeru Kobayashi, a man credited with revolutionising competitive eating and turning it into a sport. We hear from New Yorker Yasir Salem, who combines speed-eating with triathlons and marathons, and Londoner Kate Ovens tells us how she is making a career from posting videos of eating challenges online, attracting thousands of fans in the process. (Photo: Hand holding burger. Credit: Getty Images)
Oct 12, 2017
Madhur Jaffrey: My Life in Five Dishes
1617
Join us for five unforgettable dishes from one extraordinary life as the food writer and actress Madhur Jaffrey reveals some rather surprising mealtimes - from a swimming lesson with a watermelon, to a dinner disaster with jazz legend, Dizzy Gillespie. The food writer and award-winning actress has written more than 15 cookbooks, many of them bestsellers, and has been credited with changing the way people outside India think about the country’s food. She joins the BBC's Emily Thomas to talk about the meals that have shaped her remarkable career. (Photo: Madhur Jaffrey. Credit: Penguin Books)
Oct 05, 2017
A Fly Future?
1658
We're in South Africa again to find out whether fly larvae could help humans eat more meat and fish. As the global population expands, traditional feed sources such as fishmeal, soya and grains, could put increasing pressure on the environment, depleting oceans and reducing biodiversity. Alternative protein sources based on insects are being developed by a number of companies across the world. In this episode we explore whether they are as effective as traditional feeds, and how big the industry is likely to get. Plus, might maggots be able to ease the world’s landfill problems too? Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Black soldier fly. Credit: Getty images).
Sep 28, 2017
The Maggot Masters
1622
This week we’re in South Africa, picking up great big squirming handfuls of maggots. Could these unpalatable little creatures hold the answer to some big questions – what to do about the huge amount of waste going into landfill, and how to meet the world’s growing demand for a sustainable supply of farmed fish, pigs and poultry? A company called Agriprotein thinks its fly farm is the solution. They've just won The Food Chain’s first Global Champion Award - which recognises innovative ideas that could have a longstanding impact on the way we produce or consume food. The Food Chain's Emily Thomas gets up close to their armada of over 9 billion flies in the first of two episodes to explore the potential of using insects as a protein source for animal and fish feed.
Sep 21, 2017
Cow Candy
1620
Why do farmers feed their cows sweets? What are the implications for the animals’ health, the environment and the taste of our meat? From the mystery of a rural US highway covered in Skittles, to chocolate-flavoured steak selling for hundreds of dollars, we explore the impact of feeding cows the byproducts of human food production. Plus, we take our own bag of treats onto the farm and discover cows have rather expensive tastes. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Picture: A cow eating a chocolate bar.)
Sep 14, 2017
Finding a Food Champion
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Meet the people determined to revolutionise what and how we eat as we launch our first ever international award. We hear about the four shortlisted projects hoping to be named The Food Chain Global Champion, including an insect-based cooking oil, a beekeeper empowering women in northern India, a maggot-based animal feed, and a global movement seeking to transform food and agriculture. We’ll also hear form our international panel of judges on their reasons for shortlisting the final four, and a slam poet’s verdict in verse. The Food Chain Global Food Champion Award recognises a person or project whose work in the economics, science, or culture of food has (or has the potential to have), a global impact on how we produce, process, consume or think about food and drink. The winner will be revealed later this month. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Sahida Begum inspects her bees in the Araku valley, in the in the northern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Credit: Sahida Begum.)
Sep 07, 2017
The Art of Fermentation
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For 20 years Sandor Katz has been fascinated by fermentation - the breaking down of food and drink by microbes. Through his books and workshops he has helped thousands of people begin to experiment with flavours, fruits, vegetables, spices... and microorganisms. Dan Saladino travels to Sandor's forest home in rural Tennessee to meet Sandor, hear his story, and discover for himself the transformative potential of this culinary process. Producer: Rich Ward
Aug 31, 2017
Upper Crust?
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What does your choice of loaf say about you? Is your sourdough a source of pride? Have you ever felt ashamed of your sliced white? Flour, water, and salt - over thousands of years the basic recipe for bread has changed very little. But often there's been a dollop of judgement thrown in too. From Plato to modern-day Cairo, in this episode we’re talking about the ever-changing relationship between bread and social class. How have certain types of loaf come to have different moral and social meanings? And, can bread divide a society? Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Loaf of bread. Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 24, 2017
Is Social Media Putting You Off Your Lunch?
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Are you the kind of person who can’t help taking a picture of your food before you eat it? Do you search out Facebook foods, Twitter tips and Instagram ideas for new restaurants and recipes? Or maybe the very thought of all this puts you off your lunch. This week we meet foodies, writers and experts to discuss where education ends and obsession begins. The BBC’s Manuela Saragosa talks to: Adaobi Okonkwo, who blogs about food under the name Dobby in Lagos; and Anna Barnett, who is a blogger, contributor to Vogue and Grazia, and author of cookery book “Eat The Week”. She also speaks to Ursula Philpot, registered dietitian and senior lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University; and Eve Turow Paul, a millennial food expert and writer. (Photo: Woman takes picture of food on phone. Credit: Getty Images).
Aug 17, 2017
Stockpiles? What Stockpiles?
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We’re on the hunt for the world’s biggest stashes of food. Can the food system handle a big shock, or is it time to stock up on your supplies? In last week’s episode we met people doing just that - stockpiling food in anticipation of anything from a major natural disaster, to the apocalypse. They had little faith that their governments would be able to keep the food supply under control in extreme circumstances. This week we set out to test their assumptions. From forgotten World War Two food sheds to Switzerland’s stockpiling sirens, which companies and governments are storing food in bulk? Where are they keeping it? Who can access it? And, if disaster strikes, will any get to you? Presenter: Emily Thomas Contributors: Tony Lister, Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Professor Tim Benton, University of Leeds, Tracey Allen, J.P. Morgan, Corinne Fleisher, World Food Programme. (Photo: abandoned warehouse. Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 10, 2017
What Will You Eat if the Apocalypse Comes?
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How long would your food supply last if you were unable to buy any food? Are you prepared for the worst is a hurricane hits, the floodwaters rise or the stock markets crash? Maybe your cupboards are full - but what if you had no electricity or gas to cook? Or if the water supply was turned off? And, if there was total breakdown of social order - could you defend the food you have? This week we meet the people who are stockpiling food in anticipation of anything from an earthquake to the apocalypse. They call themselves 'preppers'.Do they know something you don’t? When society is falling apart, do taste or texture matter? And when does stockpiling food become hoarding? The BBC’s Emily Thomas goes in search of some secret stockpiles to find the best post-apocalyptic food plans. With contributors: Pete Stanford, Lincoln Miles, owner, Preppers Shop, Henry Hargreaves, Photographer, Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom, and Kate Daigle, psychologist.
Aug 03, 2017
Have We Cracked the Nut Problem?
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It’s a food problem that can prove fatal - and we might be about to crack it. The first licensed medicines to treat peanut allergy are close to being approved by regulators. But we ask – why has it taken so long? For over a century we’ve known that an allergy can be treated by controlled exposure to the allergen. Simply put, the treatment of a peanut allergy is a very small dose of peanut. So when the prevalence of allergies began to soar in the 1990s you could have been forgiven for thinking a solution might not be far off. But as yet, there are no licensed medicines for widespread use. Some clinicians already use the technique – known as immunotherapy – but it is unregulated and the cost is prohibitive for many. This could all be about to change. Two treatments are expected to be approved by regulators in the next couple of years. It couldn't have happened without the involvement of charitable donors, venture capitalists, and pharmaceutical companies. The food industry has also invested millions. In this episode we explore the relationship between profit and progress when it comes to solving a serious food health problem. Why has it taken until now to get to this point? And, when the worst possible outcome is the death of a child, isn’t total avoidance of peanuts the safest option? Contributors: Dr Louisa James, Queen Mary University of London, Lisa and Clara Goff, Dr Andrew Clark, Cambridge Peanut Allergy Clinic and Chief Scientific Officer, Camallergy, Dr Pierre-Henri Benhamou, DBV technologies, Stephen Dilly, Aimmune Therapeutics, and Dr Robert Wood, John Hopkins Children’s Centre. Presenter: Emily Thomas
Jul 27, 2017
Health lessons with the Hadza
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We're continuing our adventures in east Africa with the Hadza – a skilled tribe of hunter gatherers who could be the last remaining link to our ancient food past. We join them as they hunt and forage, eating baobab for breakfast and enjoying some very unusual honey, all in the quest to discover the ideal human diet. The reason the scientists and geneticists are so interested in the Hadza, is because it’s thought they can help us better understand our complex relationship with our gut microbiome – the community of microbes that live inside us all. It’s thought the microbiome exerts such a powerful influence on our health it’s considered now to be in an organ in its own right, and the Hadza have a diversity of gut microbes unmatched by any group on earth. So if the Hadza can help us understand the microbiome and where our modern diets have gone wrong in depleting gut microbe diversity, perhaps the secrets of the their diet can help us all become healthier humans.
Jul 20, 2017
Hunting with the Hadza
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This week we’re going to be telling what might be the oldest food story in the world. The Hadza of Tanzania, east Africa, are one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer communities in the world and the last remaining link to our ancient food past. The total population of the group now stands at around one thousand, with up to two hundred living as pure hunter-gatherers, who grow nothing, and practice no form of farming. They’ve lived in this part of east Africa for at least 40 thousand years and food for the Hadza has remained relatively unchanged. We meet the community, who walk in the footsteps of our human ancestors, joining them as they hunt for porcupine, climb 30 feet up a tree in search of honey, dig deep for tubers and snack on berries picked from trees. Through this insight into what our earliest human ancestors ate, we learn about our own human development and the crucial link between the food we eat, and the crucial microbiomes we carry in our digestive systems. Using these discoveries, the Hadza can help give us much needed ideas for our food future. With contributors: Jeff Leach, Founder of the Human Food Project; Tim Spector, Professor of genetics at Kings College London. Presenter: Dan Saladino, in collaboration with BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme
Jul 13, 2017
Fortification: Too Much of a Good thing?
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What if we told you something had been added to your food that could affect your health? You can't see it, you won’t taste it, and you might not have realised it’s there at all. Most of us will eat something that has been fortified with micronutrients – small amounts of minerals and vitamins - every day. But who is adding them to our food - and why? And does a focus on fortification by development agencies mean valuable resources have been diverted from tackling underlying causes of malnutrition in the developing world? Mandatory fortification is when food manufacturers are required by law to add certain vitamins or minerals to foods. The other type of food fortification is voluntary - meaning it’s at the discretion of the manufacturer to add nutrients from a government-approved list. Some argue this leads to foods being fortified for commercial purposes, rather than genuine public health concerns. We’ll be speaking to global food company, Nestle, which is on a mission to fortify more of its processed food - and to one of the main NGOs involved in fortifying staple foods in the developing world, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. We also visit a bakery in London, and a street market in Accra, Ghana to hear what the consumer makes of all this. With contributors: Gordon Polson, Federation of Bakers in the UK, Mark Lawrence Professor in Public Health Nutrition at Deakin University, Australia, Wayne England, senior Vice President for the Global Strategy Unit at Nestle, Barrie Margetts, Emeritus Professor within Medicine, University of Southampton, UK and Lawrence Haddad, GAIN. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Milk being poured into an overflowing bowl of cornflakes. Credit: Getty Images)
Jul 06, 2017
The Unlikely Power of Cookbooks
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Even if you’ve never picked up a book of recipes - cookbooks will have had a huge influence on how you live. What may appear to be mere collections of ingredients and cooking methods, sometimes tell us just as much about social class, politics and gender. We explore how cookery books have been used to demonstrate power, strengthen colonial and soviet ideology, and divide society by class and race. Do we see these dividing lines reflected in today’s publishing industry? And what does your choice of cookbook say about you? Plus - why did a stuffed peacock leave 150 Harvard undergraduates aghast? With contributors: Barbara Ketcham-Wheaton, food historian and honorary curator of the culinary collection at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University; Polly Russell, food historian and curator at The British Library; Sarah Lavelle, publishing director at Quadrille; and Katharina Vester, professor of history at American University, Washington DC. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Man opens book. Credit: Getty Images)
Jun 29, 2017
Food Secrets of Centenarians
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People who have lived into their hundreds explain their food experiences and philosophies, to help us explore relationship between food and longevity. We ask whether despite having a greater variety of food available, and an ever growing abundance of dietary information, are younger generations able to replicate the diets of the oldest people on earth? Does modern food culture prevent us from emulating the food habits of centenarians? In Acciaroli, Italy,one of the BBC’s longest-standing reporters visits a village where more than one in ten people live more than a century, to find out their diet secrets. From there to Surrey, England, where 100 year old Helen Clare, a famous war-time singer explains her philosophy to food. Does attitude matter - and have younger generations become too obsessed with what we eat? We meet a man who has visited the oldest communities in the world - and hear their food secrets. What are the similarities between the diet of centenarians in Okinawa, Japan and California, US? Are there certain foods or general food principles that make you live longer? Or is it the company you keep? Plus, what is the scientific evidence for the link between diet and a longer life? With contributors: Helen Clare, singer, Dan Buettner, author, and John Mathers, scientific director of the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Woman eating ice cream. Credit: Getty Images)
Jun 22, 2017
What Time is Dinner?
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How social class has dictated when we eat. From Ancient Greece to New York hipsters, what has determined our mealtimes in the past and who wants them to change now? For thousands of years when we eat signified where we were in society. It seems this idea may not have been consigned to history - is the resurgence of brunch marking out a new 'creative' social class? And have you heard of the ‘fourth meal’? Snacking is on the rise - and the food industry might be helping you abandon the three meal model. Is more choice breaking apart the structured meal? Plus, what exactly is the scientific evidence that any of this matters? With contributions from: Paul Freedman, Yale University, Shawn Micallef, Author, Tamara Barnett, Vice President of Strategic Insights at The Hartman Group and Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, at Harvard University. Presenter: Emily Thomas (Photo: Clock and cutlery. Credit: Getty Images)
Jun 15, 2017
Much Ado About Michelin
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For many chefs winning a Michelin star, or two or three, is often considered the pinnacle of their career. It could put them on the path to money and fame. But some critics claim not all stars are equal- and in an industry where receiving one could mean the difference between profit and loss, the stakes are high. In this episode we take a closer look at the Michelin guide and how two brothers made the name of their tyre business synonymous with the highest quality food in the world. Why do some chefs view earning a Michelin star as a curse, and others as a celebration? We’ll get a behind the scenes look at the life of a Michelin inspector, with an interview with Claire Dorland-Clauzel, who heads the guides. The BBC's Kent DePinto speaks to Michelin-starred chef Tom Kemble on how the accolade has helped his career. Gary Pisano, professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School, talks about the impact of a Michelin star on a restaurant's ability to innovate. The BBC's Ashleigh Nghiem meets the Singaporian street hawker who was awarded a Michelin star. And we hear from food critic Andy Hayler on why he thinks recent partnerships by Michelin with tourist boards may be leading tourists astray. (Image: a Michelin guide on display. Credit: Kazuhiro Nogi / Getty Images)
Jun 08, 2017
Talking Rot
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If you found some mould on a slice of bread - would you eat it, cut it off, or throw the loaf away? What exactly is that green fur anyway? In this episode we’re asking whether we’ve become overly cautious about rot, and finding out how our attitudes to decaying food have changed. The BBC's Emily Thomas talks to Chris Wells from Leatherhead Food Research to find out when old food really becomes bad for you. Food historian Helen Zeit from Michigan State University explains how we may have become less tolerant of older food, and Christina Rice of Harvard law and Policy Clinic explains why the consumer is so confused over when to throw food away. Of course many of us are prepared to put our reservations about old food on hold when something’s presented as a delicacy. We’ll meet people who take pride in eating the oldest food they can – from a Sardinian cheese full of jumping maggots to a man who lived off fermented food alone for a year. Finally we’ll get up close to some creatures which you could call the true masters of the decomposing meal. (Photo: Mouldy bread. Credit: Getty Images).
Jun 01, 2017
Hands Off My Food!
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When it comes to aspects of cultural life being shared, adopted or borrowed in an increasingly globalised world - where more so than food? But should a culture be able to claim ownership of a cuisine, and should you profit from food that isn’t culturally your own? In this episode we discuss the cultural appropriation of food. Cultural appropriation can be defined as the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture. Some define it as the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of those elements - which reinforces historically exploitative relationships. We start in Ottowa Canada where a group of New Zealanders are objecting to the marketing of an energy drink. From there we go to Tennessee in the US where Rachel Martin, a food historian tells us how Hot Chicken has become Nashville’s favourite dish, and why she’s a little uncomfortable about how this happened. So where do you draw the line between appreciating food and appropriating or misappropriating it? The BBC’s Emily Thomas is joined by four people from the food world who have a real stake in this hot and divisive debate: Michael Twitty, a chef, food writer, and historian; Alex Stupak, a chef and founder of the Empellon Mexican restaurant chain in New York, Rachel Lauden, a food historian, based in Austin Texas, and Clarissa Wei, a food writer from Los Angeles. (Photo: Tacos being put on display by street vendor. Credit: Getty Images/ Milkos)
May 25, 2017
The Real Value of a Cup of Tea
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Coffee addict Dan Saladino sets out to understand what a cup of tea is really worth. Do we pay enough? In south west India, food writer Vanessa Kimbell gets up close to the leaf and hears the reality of a hard day’s work from a team of tea pluckers 6000 metres above sea level. From there we move to the Assam region in the north east to hear about an investigation into working conditions on a tea plantation. Will Battle, author of the World Tea Encyclopedia and a professional tea taster, explains how the global demand for tea has shaped where it’s grown and how it’s traded. Next, after the long journey from field to cup – what’s the best way to consume a cuppa? Tea tutor Caroline Hope is visited by people from all over the world to learn how the British drink tea. Finally, we enter a new realm of tea-drinking. Tim Doffay of Postcard Teas in London tells us about some of the world’s most expensive brews. (Photo: Cup of tea and saucer with gold spoon. Credit: Getty Creative)
May 22, 2017
Foodunnit?
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A forensic look at food and its crime-solving powers. We start with one of the most challenging cases London’s murder squad has ever faced. The BBC’s Emily Thomas meets the Metropolitan Police’s former head of homicide investigations, Andy Baker, by the banks of the Thames, to hear how a murder victim’s stomach contents can help detectives. We meet some hungry criminals – a bank robber with a burger and a thief with his hand in the biscuit tin. Former crime scene investigator Dennis Gentles, from Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland, explains new research to identify fingerprints on food, and David Foran, director of Michigan State University’s forensic science programme, tells us how a half-finished meal left at a crime scene can be a rich source of DNA. But why would a criminal stop for a snack? We speak to criminologist Richard Wright from Georgia State University. Plus, we find out how food industry technology is being used by detectives. Sheriff Todd Bonner from Wasatch County in Utah tells us how a case that haunted him for 18 years was eventually solved by a vacuum designed for use on food. Finally, the Food Chain’s own Simon Tulett, explores the mystery of the disappearing sausage stew. Please note - a couple of the cases we describe are of a graphic nature and might be upsetting for some, particularly younger listeners. (Photo: Apple and outstretched hand. Credit: Getty Creative).
May 11, 2017
I Don't Cook
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In the antithesis of a cookery programme, we meet people from around the world who can’t, don’t or won’t cook. Cooking from scratch will bring us health and happiness. Well that’s what we hear from countless cookbooks, magazines, TV shows, celebrity chefs, and even government initiatives. But studies suggest that in countries like the US and the UK people are cooking less than they did in the past. Is preparing our own food the realistic and logical choice for all of us? What are the social consequences if we don’t? Who better to tell us than the people who don’t cook? We start in the leafy London suburbs, where the BBC’s Emily Thomas meets some men who have spent most of their lives staying out of the kitchen. From there to a swish hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, for tales of a marriage torn apart by a wife’s inability to cook a certain soup. The non-cooking continues with Chilean actress Silvia Novak, journalist Bill Saporito in New York, and mum-of-two Melanie Dunn in Connecticut. Might they know something you don’t? Finally we talk to Sarah Bowen, associate professor at North Carolina State University. For her, the reasons people don’t cook tell us a lot about society and inequality. She thinks the ‘the food evangelists’ are partly to blame. Yes, there’s no space for master chefs in this week’s episode of the Food Chain. (Photo: Woman with rolling pin. Credit: Getty Creative).
May 04, 2017
The Fish Japan Ate
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The wild bluefin tuna is being eaten to extinction, but this hasn’t curbed the global appetite for this valuable fish in Japan and across the globe.In the last 70 years the fish has become a staple of high-end sushi restaurants and celebratory meals. It sells for up to hundreds of thousands of dollars–as to eat bluefin caught in the wild signifies quality. It is the apex of the sushi platter across Japan, which eats about 80% of all the wild bluefin consumed. But the tuna’s popularity is actually a relatively new phenomenon, as tuna was once regarded as a waste product until the middle of the 20th century, and even used for cat food. But recently, the appetite for the huge ocean-going fish has led to an ecological crisis, with projections that wild bluefin will no longer exist in the coming decades. The BBC’s Edwin Lane visits the iconic Tsukiji fish market, the hub of the global tuna trade, and speaks to a sushi chef who can’t bring herself to stop preparing the fish despite the extinction warning, and visits one of the world’s only functioning bluefin farms to talk about why it’s so difficult to raise bluefin tuna in captivity. (Photo: Bluefin tuna on ice Photo credit: Kindai University, Japan)
Apr 27, 2017
Liberte, Egalite, Gastronomie?
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Ahead of the French national elections, we’re looking at the food and politics of a country that for many is the epicentre of gastronomic excellence, with a tradition stretching back hundreds of years. Some see this crucial ingredient of the country's national identity being nibbled away by global competition. We talk to French chefs, producers and historians about what the state of French food tells us about the state of French politics. To understand a changing France, do you need to understand the changing French meal? We’ll be exploring the earliest origins of French cuisine, the foundations of the word ‘gastronomy’ and the advent of 'gastronationalism'. (Photo: Man holding bowl of croissants. Credit: Getty Images)
Apr 20, 2017
Little Kitchen of Horrors
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** The content in this week’s show requires a fairly strong stomach. So if you’ve got children with you, or you’re a bit squeamish yourself, best to look away now. ** Listen if you dare to this episode of The Food Chain, as we explore the scary, creepy, and spooky stories that people like to tell about what we eat. Why are some of our scariest stories about food? From the man-eating giants of Ancient Greek mythology, to the real story of Hansel and Gretel, the BBC’s Kent DePinto discusses why some of our scariest stories are about food and what that tells us about the societies that like to share them. We will also hear why many of those stories have their origins in agriculture and early economic systems. Watch out for the BBC's Regan Morris in California – as she finds out how horror films create their visual effects using bananas and gelatine, and Bryan Fuller, the creator of the television show Hannibal, on how making a programme about a villain with a gruesome diet made him question his own food habits. And what are we so afraid of? The social science behind why our bodies react to scary stories. You may just want to leave the lights on. (Photo: Selection of food and candles. Credit: Getty Images).
Apr 13, 2017
Orthorexia Nervosa: When 'Healthy' Food Becomes Harmful
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When does a ‘healthy diet’ become unhealthy? This week the Food Chain looks at Orthorexia Nervosa - an unofficial term used to describe an eating disorder where people restrict their diet based on the quality and purity of food, rather than its quantity. The BBC’s Emily Thomas talks to women who have suffered from following extreme healthy diets, and hears how their internet use influenced their eating behaviour. We also hear from the people trying to help those whose quality of life is being destroyed in their pursuit of quality food. If you or someone you know has been affected by eating disorders please see the links to resources at the bottom of this page. Photo: Woman rejecting water and lettuce Credit: Getty Images
Apr 06, 2017
Hey, Hey We're The Food Chain
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You can now listen to Food Chain starting on Thursdays, so to welcome new listeners, we’re offering up some of the best bits of our award-winning programme exploring the culture, science and economics of everything you eat. Could you survive at sea for two months on a small raft, relying on your wit to feed you? Steven Callahan did just that. But he had some difficult choices to make when the fish became his only friends. It's no secret that there is a fierce rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria over who makes the best jollof rice. Singer Sister Deborah talks to The Food Chain about the history of the dish - and what the redness of your jollof says about your culinary skill. Plus we revisit Chinatown and its chequered history. From Johannesburg to London, the BBC’s Dan Saladino, explores Chinatowns around the world, and hears about the attitudes Chinese workers encountered when they first set up shop in the US. (Image: A world map made of baking flour. Credit: Roberto David/ Thinkstock)
Mar 30, 2017
One Potato More
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In our second and final episode on the humble spud, we meet the people who see the global economic future as being potato powered. The potato is the world's most produced staple food after rice, wheat and corn - yet historically, it was seen as the root of filth, misery and obesity. In our previous episode we heard how over time it came to be used as a tool of power by the state, to create a healthy and robust workforce. This week, food historian Rebecca Earle, tells us that history is repeating itself in China, which is now the world's biggest producer of potatoes. China's central government sees the potato as key to food security, but it's got some work to do to produce a cultural shift away from rice. We'll be serenaded by one of the country's potato champions, the operatic 'new farmer' Sister Potato, who says she is changing hearts, minds and cuisine with her songs. Then we'll head to the streets of Beijing to gauge enthusiasm and ask can the spud shake off its lowly reputation? Africa and developing countries have the biggest predicted growth in potato production in the coming decades. But is the world in danger of putting all its spuds in one basket? We’re asking whether the potato is the answer to food security or if the vegetable’s patchy history doomed to repeat itself. Plus we head to Peru to visit the scientists protecting thousands of varieties of potato, and meet the man who ate nothing but potatoes - for a year. (Image: A farmer eats a potato in China . Credit: Spencer Platt/ Getty Images)
Mar 25, 2017
Poor Old Potato
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In its time, the potato has been called the root of filth, misery and obesity - but is it fair to call it the 'food of the poor'? In the first episode of a two-part series, The Food Chain goes to the very roots of the world's most popular vegetable, digging up some new perspectives on its history. We visit the British Museum to meet Bill Sillar from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London. He explains how the early Andeans and Inca developed innovative ways to cultivate potatoes, but preferred to celebrate maize instead. From there we move to the kitchens at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace, and find out how the spud was met with scepticism in Europe when it first arrived. Food historian Marc Meltonville tells the BBC's Emily Thomas how the humble spud was made into pasties and pies. By the 19th century, the potato had firmly taken root in the west, but it was still subject to widespread disdain. The journalist and farmer, William Cobbett said potatoes should be fed to pigs, not people, and that they were the cause of "slovenliness, filth, misery and slavery". We speak to food historian Rebecca Earle at the University of Warwick, who explains how despite its reputation, the potato has played an important role in agricultural and economic development. The tuber was perhaps one of the very first products of globalization, and we hear how it became equated with a robust and hardy workforce, and associated with capitalism. Finally, we ask what the future holds for the potato. Will it ever be able to shake off its unsavoury reputation? (Image: A variety of raw potatoes. Credit: Ernesto Benavides/ AFP/ Getty Images)
Mar 18, 2017
The Food We Breathe
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As part of the BBC wide #SoICanBreathe season, The Food Chain explores how the ways we grow and cook our food can affect how we breathe. From the indoor pollution generated by cooking, to how farming practices change the air for miles around, our food can have a big impact on how we breathe. We come full circle to find out how air pollution can get in to our food and why your lettuce might have spots. But it's not all bad news, and we'll also visit India and Ghana to explore developments that might help us all breathe a bit more easily. Plus, if our diet is potentially part of the problem when it comes to air pollution, could it also be part of the solution? (Image: A Pakistani woman blows on a small cooking fire to bake bread at a makeshift camp. Credit: Rizwan Tabassum/ Getty Images)
Mar 11, 2017
McAsia?
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What can fast food tell us about the changing global economy? This week Karishma Vaswani, the BBC's Asia Business correspondent, takes a closer look at the history and the future of McDonald's in Asia. For many the company is a symbol of globalisation and food. To globalise though, the company has had to localize, and with that comes challenges. From Beijing, to Hong Kong, to Delhi, we explore the changing tastes of Asia, and what the future might be for a market many multi-national companies have set their sights on. Is the business model of franchising still an effective way to export a food business? And as countries modernise is it getting harder for a global brand to compete with local rivals? (Photo: Ronald McDonald at the opening of a McDonald's in Beijing. Photo credit: STR/AFP/Getty)
Mar 03, 2017
Post-Truth Food
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Remember the great bacon shortage of 2012? No? What about the one earlier this year? Still no? Well maybe that’s because they didn’t happen. The Oxford English dictionary defines post-truth as: "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief". This week we're looking at why stories about food shortages take hold so quickly – whether they are true or not. We’ll start with a popular food story from recent weeks, which warned the US could be running out of bacon. Brad Tuttle, journalist with Time Magazine separates the facts from the fiction. But why do stories like these spread like wildfire? We speak to Michaela DeSoucey, Assistant Professor of Sociology at North Carolina State University, who says it’s not just our brains that react to food shortage scares – our behaviour changes too. And Paul Buckley, a psychologist at Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales in the UK, explains why an abundance of information leaves the consumer confused. What can be done about all this confusion in a world where we are bombarded with information - and increasingly hear that we shouldn't believe much of what we are told? In a post-truth world, are we even more susceptible to exaggerated or untrue stories? We speak to Dominique Brossard, professor and chair in the Department of Life Sciences Information at the University of Wisconsin. Finally - in a week where famine is officially declared for the first time in six years by the United Nations (UN) - we turn to the most worrying headline of all: that the world could run out of food. We speak to Joel Cohen, professor of populations at the Rockerfeller University and Columbia University in New York and Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the UN Food and Agricultural Organization. (Image: A long-nosed figure with a carrot dangling off the end leading people off a cliff. Credit: wildpixel/ Thinkstock)
Feb 25, 2017
Wheelchair Fajitas and Talking Scales
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Food is how we structure everyday life. For some people living with disabilities, the smallest of culinary tasks can be very frustrating and difficult. As part of the BBC’s Disability Works season - exploring the experiences of disabled people in the workforce and as consumers - the Food Chain looks at the important role food plays for people who have, or acquire, a disability. We hear what it’s like to grow up in a tribe when you can’t take part in the most valued activity – farming. Kudakwashe Dube had polio as a child in rural Zimbabwe and is now the CEO at the African Disability Allowance. He explains how people with disabilities can be discriminated against when it comes to taking part in agriculture, and receiving food aid. The BBC’s Kathleen Hawkins hears stories of how technology, like mesh gloves and talking scales, can create an adaptive modern kitchen. She also takes us to her own home where we hear how she cooks from her wheelchair which struggles to fit between the kitchen cupboards. How can the kind of problems she faces be resolved? We speak to occupational therapist assistant Ann Kelly and registered dietician Juliette Harmer from the UK’s Ministry of Defence to find out. Plus, we’ll discuss how modified chopsticks in Japan can be life-changing for people with disabilities. Katsuyuki Miyabi, a craftsman, doesn't think anybody should be excluded from using this age-old tool which is so important in Japanese society. Finally, Emma Tracey from the BBC’s Ouch programme visits a café where food is made by a blind cook and his autistic helper. (Image: A man in a wheelchair in a lowered kitchen. Credit: Huntstock/ Thinkstock)
Feb 18, 2017
The Plankton Problem
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You've swallowed many of them throughout your life without realising, and some look like aliens: we look at plankton, the sea's smallest living creatures that have a big global impact. At the centre of the food web, and responsible for most of the air we breathe, these microscopic plants and animals are eaten by fish in our seas, which are eaten by bigger creatures, and eventually eaten by humans. But what happens when new problems hit these ancient critters, which have existed for millions of years? And how does it affect our health - and our plates? We speak to Jeff Herman in the US, whose skin was left crawling and in sweats after he got Ciguatera food poisoning from eating a hogfish. He tells us how his nightmarish symptoms were linked to toxins created by plankton. We share a voyage with the crew in charge of the world's oldest plankton recorder in Plymouth, England. They have been monitoring the world's seas since the 1930s to check on the health of these tiny creatures so vital to our food chain. Plankton scientists tell the BBC's Emily Thomas that new types of plankton not seen since the Ice Age are moving in - prompting questions around how plankton will adapt to new challenges like pollution and climate change. And what would you do if the sea around you turned bright red? So-called red tides can blight seasides and devastate fishing industries from Florida to the South China Sea. Hong Kong journalist Ernest Kao tells us about the devastation created by an overpopulation of algae, another kind of plankton. And Professor Lora Fleming tells us about the movements and patterns of these tiny creatures, how toxins from some can skew with your sense of hot and cold, and how new research is helping us to harness the power of plankton in a more sustainable way. (Image: Man swimming towards a 'red tide' or algal bloom in Sydney. Credit: William West/ ThinkStock )
Feb 11, 2017
Got Gumbo?
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What can one single dish tell you about America's history? One particular bowl of soup gives us an insight about the future of cultures that convene around it. Gumbo is eaten by nearly everyone in New Orleans, but its past speaks of the deep inequalities in American history that still resonate to this day. The BBC's Dan Saladino looks in to the origins of this dish and discovers influences from Native Americans, slaves from West Africa, settlers from Nova Scotia, and European immigrants from Spain, France and Italy. Dan tries to track down the perfect recipe for one of Louisiana's most famous dishes, and discovers how the politics of which food belongs to whom, is still at play, hundreds of years later. (Image: A close up of a bowl of gumbo. Credit: Warren_Price/ Thinkstock)
Feb 04, 2017
Should You Drink Your Food?
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Why won't our brains let us feel full on liquid food? After all, we spent the first months of our lives living on milk alone. We talk to a man who lived on liquid alone for 30 days, as we explore why adults are ditching the knife and fork in favour of meals in liquid form. We visit a juice and smoothie café in London where a gourmet smoothie can cost as much as a hot roast dinner, and meet a woman who is only too happy to swap her meal for a drink. Sociology and Food expert Anne Murcott, from SOAS, University of London, tells us this trend is all in the marketing, and Richard Mattes of Purdue University explains why our adult brains are not perfectly wired to detect calories in drink form - and takes us on a journey through our digestive system to help us understand how we process liquid food. And a warning about a little known problem that could be hiding in your smoothie, from allergy expert Dr Isabel Skypala. Plus, we talk to the companies making whole meals in a bottle. The CEO of German company Bertrand, Tobias Stöber shares the thinking behind his product. Professor Amy Bentley isn't convinced though. She's from the Department of Food Studies, Nutrition and Public Health at New York University and tells the BBC's Emily Thomas why she doubts the nutritional value of these drinks. (Image: A spilled glass of strawberry smoothies. Credit: Kondor 83/ Thinkstock)
Jan 21, 2017
Of Maize and Men: Unpicked
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This week we continue the story of the most abundant crop on earth. Last week we established its position as the king of the crops. This time we ask: are we producing too much of a good thing? Does the way we produce this crop epitomise everything that’s wrong with the global food system? Maize - or corn, as it’s also known - is the lynchpin of the industrialised food supply. The BBC’s Emily Thomas talks to Ricardo Salvador from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Stephen Macko from the University of Virginia about how the crop could be the fuelling the obesity problem in the developed world. Conversely, hundreds of millions of people in the developing world rely on maize for their very survival. Prasanna Boddupalli, from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, explains the value of this crop – and the impact of US policy in sub-saharan Africa. We visit a farm in Aylesbury in the South of England and explore the role of corn in intensive livestock farming, with farmer Tom Morrison. From there we move to the cornbelt in the US Midwest, where corn farmer David Brant explains his solution for growing maize without stripping the soil, and polluting the rivers. (Image: An eerie scarecrow in a crop field. Credit: pick-uppath/ Thinkstock)
Jan 14, 2017
Of Maize and Men: The Rise
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Corn is everywhere, in much of our food, drink and even packaging. It has found its way, in a myriad of guises, into thousands of products and has come to dominate the industrialised food supply. Hundreds of millions of people in the developing world rely on it too, for their very survival. This week we bring you the story behind the king of the crops, in the first of two programmes dedicated to its spectacular rise, and its implications. The BBC's Emily Thomas learns how maize rose to pre-eminence with author Betty Fussell, and takes a crash course in plant biology with Ricardo Salvador, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, to hear why corn is so productive. . We hear one woman's unenviable, life or death battle to avoid this ubiquitous ingredient and talk to a man who can estimate your corn consumption from a single strand of your hair. Finally, we ask what lengths a government will go to to protect their corn secrets, and find out why the Chinese government is scaling back its production of the crop. (Image: A man standing next to a field of tall maize crops. Credit: alexsalcedo/ Thinkstock)
Jan 07, 2017
Food Chain: The Quiz
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Have you ever wondered how many litres of water it takes to make one egg, or what links a 19th-Century electrician to modern pet food? Whose job was it to eat a corpse cake, what really happens when you burn your toast, and what are the world’s most powerful chili peppers? For the answers to these and many more questions, join us for the ultimate test of culinary trivia in The Food Chain’s inaugural quiz. Get your pens ready and play along with our studio panel: BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones; BBC Radio 4 correspondent Matthew Price; Jozef Youssef, chef and founder of Kitchen Theory in London; and BBC World Service presenter Jackie Leonard. (Photo: Flour plus egg equals spaghetti. Credit: Ryan Michael Rodrigo/EyeEm/Getty Images)
Dec 31, 2016
Food Chain: The Musical
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What can our music tell us about our culinary and cultural heritage? We explore the ways songs about planting, growing, milking and cooking reflect our lives and our livelihoods. The BBC's Kent DePinto takes us through a sampler of music from around the world, all performed with one thing in mind - food. We'll interpret the rhythm of milking songs in northwest Scotland, visit the hey-day of Yiddish theatre in Manhattan's Lower East Side, dip our toe into an age-old culinary beef in Ghana, and hear how a samba about fish eggs pinpoints social inequality in Brazil. Plus, we get a lesson in playing the leek from an orchestra that only plays vegetables. (Image: A music sheet made of edible salad leaves. Credit: ShaunL/ Getty Images )
Dec 24, 2016
Survival Stories: ‘We Ate Spiders, Flies and Worms’
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Lost in a barren and unforgiving part of Turkey, and forced to hide for days in a cave to get away from torrential rain and floods, a group of students turn to berries, grass and insects for sustenance. We speak to two of the students: Merije de Groot and David Mackie. Plus, what happens when you’re surrounded by people, but still have nothing to eat? We hear from Amin Sheikh – who survived alone on the streets of Mumbai for three years from the age of five. In the third of our Survival Stories programmes, the BBC's Emily Thomas is joined by Max Krasnow, an evolutionary psychologist from Harvard University, who explains how your tastebuds could save your life, and Dr Chris Fenn, a nutritionist and survival expert. (Image: David Mackie, after being rescued in Turkey in January 2015. Credit: Anadolu Agency/ Getty Images)
Dec 17, 2016
Hunger in the Rich World
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Why do people struggle to feed themselves in wealthy societies? Food banks - depositories of donated and excess food where the neediest can collect ingredients for basic meals - have been running in America since the 1960s. But they are only meant to be for emergencies. Why then, does it seem that in some developed economies, they have become the last defence for those unable to feed themselves? The BBC’s Manuela Saragosa visits the Oasis Waterloo Foodbank in London to hear the stories of people who depend on donated food during times of hardship. We look at the different perspectives around food aid and charity – is it right to treat food banks as a political issue? And, we explore how hunger and food waste - another perennial food problem - might make interesting bedfellows. (Photo: A woman browses canned foods at a food bank in San Francisco. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Dec 10, 2016
The Hidden Cost of a Home-Cooked Meal
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Who does the cooking in your house? In many cultures the responsibility for preparing meals at home traditionally falls to women. But as more women join the global workforce, traditional household responsibilities are changing. What impact is that having have on our internal family dynamics? As part of the BBC's 100 Women season, we hear about the social and economic costs of putting a meal on the family table, when the most expensive ingredient is time. Four women from different continents explain the challenges they face trying to balance family life, work, and food. A working mother in Mumbai tells us why she won't give up her kitchen, and a stay at home mum in New York explains why her working husband does most of the cooking. Plus, we hear that in parts of rural Kenya women who cannot cook are far from marriage material. (Picture: A woman prepares vegetables in a village in Bangladesh. Credit: Jewel Samad, Getty Images)
Dec 03, 2016
Full English Brexit
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Twentieth century British playwright and novelist Somerset Maugham said that to eat well in Britain, you should eat breakfast thrice daily. And, nothing speaks to British culinary tradition more than the Full English breakfast - bacon, sausages, egg, beans, black pudding and mushrooms all on one plate. But how much of the ‘full English’ today is actually English? And, in a post-Brexit United Kingdom, how will the industries that cater to British breakfasters fare? The BBC’s Manuela Saragosa works her way through each food on the full English breakfast plate and explores how they could be impacted following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Ian Dunt, author of Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now?, explains why many believe food prices are set to eventually rise. The UK imports two thirds of its supply from neighbouring Ireland, but as the BBC’s Diarmaid Fleming finds out, some Irish mushroom farmers have already gone out of business. Claire Macleod of Charles Macleod Butchers tells us why Brexit has cast uncertainty on the future of her black puddings. And, we speak to the staff and diners of Brunchies Café in Sutton, south of London – are they concerned about adding a sprinkling of Brexit to their breakfast and if costs rise, is it a price worth paying? (Photo: A traditional English breakfast plate, with Union Jack flag. Credit: Thinkstock)
Nov 26, 2016
Burnt
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From the golden crust on a perfectly-baked loaf, to a crispy, crunchy potato chip - do you ever wonder why food that's been browned or charred, can smell, taste and look so good? It's one of cooking's most important flavour secrets. But it's now at the centre of a battle between health campaigners and the European food industry. The BBC’s Mike Johnson follows the story of browned and burnt food from an unexpected discovery in Paris 100 years ago to a state-of-the-art food testing laboratory in the UK, picking up some tips at a London cookery school along the way. (Picture: Unhappy burnt toast Credit: Thinkstock)
Nov 19, 2016
In Search of Lost Foods
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What happens to a food when people stop eating it? Most of the food we eat today comes from a handful of crops, but before we became a globalised society, our diet reflected a variety of plants, proteins and foods that were cultivated as local specialties. Now, as our diets become less diverse, these foods face a critical point in their existence. In this programme the BBC's Dan Saladino explores several stories of foods that are dying out and talks to the farmers and producers who are working to save them. (Photo: Mexican Blue Corn Credit: Omar Torres/AFP/Getty Images)
Nov 12, 2016
Plate of the Union
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Can you tell a Democrat by their salad? A Republican by their hamburger? An Independent by their coffee? With the outcome of the US presidential election just days away, The Food Chain looks at the surprising role food has played in a campaign like no other. We visit Arizona, a swing state in this year’s election, to see whether Americans think your food preference can be determined by your political preference. Regina Ragone of Family Circle magazine tells the BBC’s Kent DePinto how a comment by Hilary Clinton started a nation-wide baking contest that has been running since 1992. Plus, Lizzie O’Leary from Marketplace follows the money to understand how the political wishes of big food companies is expressed in political donations. We look at how taco trucks have become one the 2016 election's most polarizing issues. And we hear about the forgotten tradition of the American election cake. Photo: A blueberry pie in the design of an American flag. Photo Credit: Thinkstock
Nov 05, 2016
Dining with the Dead
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Food is a fundamental part of life’s biggest celebrations, from birthdays and weddings to religious feasts. It’s also a key part of death. This week, we hear how saying farewell to the departed has inspired centuries of food tradition, from corpse cakes and sin-eating in medieval Europe, to the pan de muertos and sugar skulls of Mexico's Day of the Dead. We visit a Death Cafe in London to find out how food and drink help end the taboos around discussing grief and loss, and we go graveside feasting in Estonia, where family meals include the departed. Plus, how funeral food extravagance is driving families into enormous debt in Ghana. (Picture: Chocolate skulls prepared for Mexico's Day of The Dead celebrations)
Oct 29, 2016
Vegan Babies: Should You Restrict Your Child’s Diet?
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Are parents wrong to impose their own restrictive diets on their children? An Italian MP wants to jail parents who choose vegan or other “reckless” diets for their kids. But many of these families argue their children are healthy and happy. This week, we take a look at the implications of excluding certain foods from a child’s plate. Should children be encouraged to develop their own food choices regardless of their parents’ convictions? Vegan, veggie and Paleo parents talk to the BBC’s Manuela Saragosa. (Photo: A child contemplates a plate of salad. Credit: Thinkstock)
Oct 22, 2016
Should We All Be Vegans?
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What would happen if we all became vegans? Veganism – cutting out animal products from your diet, and often your wardrobe – suddenly seems more mainstream than ever. It is attracting followers from Beyoncé to Al Gore, and there’s a new breed of vegan, too: vloggers espousing their veggie-heavy lifestyle to millions of online fans. Whether it is for health, environmental or ethical reasons, more and more people are embracing plant-based food. The BBC’s Mike Johnson sets out to explore what the world would look like if everyone gave up animal products tomorrow, and the economic consequences of a meat and dairy-free world. We talk to the owner of the first vegan café in Qatar, we test a meatless burger that ‘bleeds’ beetroot juice and we weigh up the human cost of an animal-free diet. (Photo: A detail of a painting by Giuseppe Acrimboldo featuring a man's head made out of vegetables. Credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
Oct 15, 2016
Stories from Syria
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How do people living through the Syrian conflict find food? The BBC’S Dan Saladino explores what’s happening in Syria, where food is often used as both a weapon and target of war. Bakeries have been reportedly targeted in bombings, and profiteers look to gain from the scarcity of staples by hiking up prices for the food that is available. We speak to Jakob Kern, who oversees a $700m operation for the UN’s World Food Programme as he attempts to get food aid into besieged towns and hard to reach communities. And we hear a meal shared between two re-settled Syrian families as they try to start a new life away from their war-torn homeland. Plus, we further explore how a food culture re-forms after it’s forced to flee and relocate, as Syrian-American Dalia Mortada shares the food stories she’s been collecting from the diaspora in the United States. And the small industries that might offer hope for farmers in a post-conflict country. (Photo: Bakers pack bread at a bakery in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Credit: Karam Al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images)
Oct 08, 2016
The Olympics of Chinese Food
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The world's top names in Chinese cuisine meet once every four years in a prestigious and gruelling cooking contest to determine which of them is the very best. Can a team of UK chefs make a gold medal-winning debut? The BBC's Celia Hatton takes a front-row seat at the World Championship of Chinese Cuisine, often called the Olympics of Chinese cooking. She follows Gavin Chun, a first-time competitor from London, who hopes to help his team to culinary glory. But will the chefs be able to execute the complicated 56 dishes they have to make? And what does the competition say about the evolution of modern Chinese food? (Photo: A chef at the World Championship of Chinese Cuisine)
Oct 01, 2016
Pestatarians
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Invasive species or pests are animals that end up in an ecosystem that is not their natural home. They pose a huge environmental risk to local ecosystems and food systems. But perhaps there is a solution and it might involve getting our taste buds used to the idea of eating them. Some of us are doing it already. One of the most popular items on one London menu is the pesky grey squirrel. We also head to Australia to hear how feral camels have found an unlikely market with an immigrant community. And, why a lobster has Sweden and North America getting their claws out. (Photo: A camel at QCamel dairy, Queensland, Australia. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Sep 24, 2016
The New Sushi
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It's widely agreed that bugs could be a sustainable source of protein for humans in the future, but large-scale production is very labour intensive. As the BBC’s Katy Watson discovers, in Mexico - where there is a long bug-eating tradition - the infrastructure required for a profitable bug industry is almost non-existent. In the US though, where the idea of having insects for lunch still turns most stomachs, some farmers are adding bugs to protein bars and crushing them into powder for health-conscious Californians. Some proponents say insects could be the new sushi. But are they right? (Picture: A scorpion served up in Mexico.)
Sep 17, 2016
Food on the Open Road
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It could be argued that our global economy is in some ways, driven by drivers. That is, long-haul truckers who carry goods from one side of a country to another. But truck driving is a profession that is struggling to recruit new members and a lot of it has to do with lifestyle and what’s available to eat. The BBC’s Mike Johnson discovers that a lack of fresh food options, combined with a sedentary lifestyle and strict schedules, leave truck drivers facing a higher rate of obesity and a shortened life-span when compared to other professions. But some truck drivers are working to change that. Plus, we discover what it’s like to eat on the road in the world’s longest country, and get a lesson in cab cooking along the way. (Photo: Truck drivers wait to pass at the border between Greece and Bulgaria. Credit: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP)
Sep 10, 2016
Big Beer
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Next month, the world’s current largest beer maker, AB InBev is expected to take over the world’s second largest beer maker, SABMiller. If the plan goes ahead, together they will become the world's largest brewer, making about one out of every three beers around the world. But many, craft beer drinkers especially, do not like the idea of a single company making so much of our brew. The BBC’s Manuela Saragosa asks whether their concerns are valid - or whether it is all just froth. She talks to beer writer Peter Brown and travels to a hop farm in the English countryside to see where it all begins. We head to Uganda where homemade brew is still the traditional drink of choice, and Jasper Cuppaidge from Camden Town Brewery - a London-based brewer - tells us what being taken over by a global company has done for his business. And, the BBC’s Rob Young breaks down the deal for us in the pub.
Sep 02, 2016
Naturally Misleading?
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What is 'natural' food and is it better for us? We explore the language of food labelling. Does a product bearing the word 'natural' on its label make you more likely to buy it? Or, is describing food as 'natural' just a marketing trick? We hear from a cattle farmer in the US state of Vermont who stopped using growth hormones on his herd so that the meat can be sold as 'natural'. Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, professor emeritus at Goldengate University in the US, explains how companies market "natural" food to us. Are some supermarkets misleading their consumers with the way they are presenting their food? Journalist Tom Levitt from The Guardian tells Manuela Saragosa why some packaging may not tell the whole story. And we hear how the mislabelling of food in China can provide rich pickings for professional label readers. With more and more products declaring their 'pure' origins, David Jago, director of Global Insight and Innovation at the market intelligence company Mintel, outlines the size of the market. Should the word 'natural' be more closely defined? We ask Daniel Fabricant, CEO of the Natural Products Association in the US and a former FDA official. Also, Manuela asks whether a diet of completely unprocessed natural food could actually be healthier for our bodies. Nutritionist Dimple Thakrar from Fresh Nutrition tells us why some processing could add to a healthy diet. And lawyer Kun Hoe describes how some professional label readers in China can benefit from mistakes in packaging. (Photo: Shoppers in China's Anhui province. Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Aug 27, 2016
Survival Stories: Fish bacon for breakfast
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Our second episode of Survival Stories further explores our relationship with food in the most extreme circumstances. What choices do we make about what we eat, when we’re all alone in the wild? Do our reflexes, instincts and tastes change? First, the story of Steve Callahan, who was adrift on an inflatable raft in the middle of the Atlantic ocean for 76 days. He tells the BBC’s Emily Thomas how he began to make three courses out of just one fish, and how it felt when his only companions and friends were also his main source of food. Plus, the tale of Yossi Ghinsberg who was lost in the Amazon rainforest. When he got separated from his group, Yossi survived for 20 days on what the forest gave him, and hoped desperately for a monkey to fall from a tree. We also find out what happens to our bodies when they go into survival mode with Dr Chris Fenn, who specialises in survival in extreme environments. How much can we rely on our gut instincts? And should you ever drink from the sea? (Photo credit: BBC)
Aug 20, 2016
Survival Stories: Lost in the Desert
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What happens when your food choices are determined by nothing but the environment around you and your own resolve? The Food Chain follows the story of 72- year-old grandmother Ann Rodgers, who went missing in the Arizona wilderness in March 2016. In this illustrated food survival story, we examine the food choices we make when left with just our animal instincts. The BBC's Emily Thomas uncovers the science behind those decisions too – and what happens to our bodies when our diet goes from balanced to bare with nutritionist Dr Chris Fenn. (Photo credit: Ann Rodgers)
Aug 13, 2016
Fertile Food
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How much could your diet affect your ability to have a child? Throughout history, harvest and the abundance of food have been associated with the creation of life. Join us on a journey from ancient traditions to the latest science. When the vegetable sellers of east London shed little light on which foods make us fertile, the BBC’s Emily Thomas goes to the Wellcome Library to look through some 16th century recipe books with Dr Jennifer Evans from the University of Hertfordshire. From stags' testicles, to ‘mad apples’ we find out which food the ancient Egyptians thought to be the biggest aphrodisiac, and why a 300 year old recipe book tells us beans lead to babies. How well does this all sit with the latest science? We talk to Dr Jorge Chavarro, from the Harvard Schools of Public Health and Medicine. Also, unless you're a woman trying for a baby, you may think folic acid isn’t something you should be too worried about… but in about a third of countries in the world, it is mandatory to add it to main food products, such as wheat flour. Why supplement the whole population with something that might only be needed by some? We speak to Mark Lawrence, Professor in Public Health Nutrition at Deakin University in Melbourne. Plus, hear some Bulgarian fertility music and find out why the grinding of black peppers is a ritual performed by men at weddings. Finally, we look at how hormones get into the food chain with Dr Richard Lea of the University of Nottingham, and ask if this should be a cause for concern. (Photo: New arrivals at the Queen Charlotte Hospital, London, in 1945. Credit: Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Aug 06, 2016
Food on the Move: What We Want, When We Want It
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Fruit in the summer, grain in the autumn - our diets once consisted of eating what was around us and what was in season. But we now live in a global food village, where in many countries the idea of eating seasonally has been consigned to history. In the 21st Century we ship, fly and truck our food supply across huge distances. Britain, for example, imports 90% of its fresh fruit. The BBC’s Mike Johnson is dockside at one of Europe’s biggest ports to hear how - and why - the world is racking up the food miles. Ross McKissock at the Port of Tilbury outlines the importance of the food trade to the port business. We step inside a vast refrigerated warehouse and ask Dale Fiddy of NFT Distribution if the new facility is a sign that the industry is on the up? Technological advances have made their mark on the way our food has moved over the centuries - Susanne Freidberg, professor of Geography at Dartmouth College, takes us back through time with the history of food transportation. We hear from a vegetable packing plant in Kenya, which leads the world in terms of exports of fresh produce by air. Shipping food over vast distances is now an established part of global trade, but does it really make financial sense? Washington economist and expert on international shipping, Marc Levinson explains the economics of moving food in huge volumes. And, could it actually be good for the environment? A question for Kath Dalmeny from environmental group, Sustain. (Photo: Factory workers sort out creates of peppers. Credit: Sergio Camacho/Getty Images)
Jul 30, 2016
Inside the Kitchens of Power
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Why is cheese essential when the German Chancellor comes for dinner? For millennia, international relations have been massaged by the chefs working inside palaces and state kitchens. The BBC’s Dan Saladino finds out about their unusual vocation and how their food might have influenced some of the biggest decisions in history. He meets Gilles Bragard, the founder of the world’s most exclusive culinary club, Le Club des Chefs Des Chefs, which brings together twenty people who cook for Heads of State. Gilles shares some food secrets, including how the Kremlin's kitchen keeps President Putin’s food safe. We visit the huge kitchens of Hampton Court Palace, where in 16th Century England, wine fountains and extravagant roasted meats were cooked to help Henry VIII impress - and intimidate - foreign dignitaries. We move from there to look at arguably the most powerful cooking place in the modern era - the White House kitchen. Sam Kass, a former chef and close friend to the Obamas, explains how new ideas and even food policies for the future can be cooked up in State kitchens. Plus, we go behind the scenes in the Belgian Embassy in Chile to see diplomacy in action – and talk to professor Stephen Chan of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies about Mugabe’s lavish feasts. We also meet David Geisser, a former Vatican chef and hear insights into the culinary preferences of Pope Francis. We find out if the Vatican leader practises what he preaches about food. Finally, we talk to a journalist in Brussels who has witnessed some recent and dramatic EU meals, including the former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s last supper with European leaders. (Photo: Barack Obama in 2008. Credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)
Jul 26, 2016
Beauty from Within?
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This week we're looking at what happens when the worlds of food and beauty collide. The BBC's Emily Thomas explores how the market for nutricosmetics - foods that have claimed beauty benefits - is growing by 10% every year. A beauty blogger in Tokyo explains why she thinks these products are already popular in Asia, particularly Japan. In China, the concept of beauty from within sits comfortably with traditional medicine. One 'beauty food' that's been consumed for thousands of years is gelatin from donkey hide. We talk to the owner of a Beijing restaurant and the customers tucking in to his donkey hotpot. Plus, we look at the rise of ingestible beauty in the West, and the products that have failed along the way. Could the food industry turn the beauty industry on its head? One company that thinks so invites us to take a look at their laboratory where they’ve created a small chocolate bar, which they say prevents ageing and promises all the goodness of 300g of Alaskan salmon. The promises made by these products are compelling - but is there enough science to back them up? We speak to an experts from Yale University in the US and a global collagen company in Europe. Finally, we ask whether we should expect food to be the elixir of eternal youth, or if nutricosmetics feed an unhealthy pressure to be beautiful from the inside. (Photo: A young woman eats strawberries in 1936: Credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Jul 16, 2016
Can Cheese Help Save an Economy?
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The BBC’s Dan Saladino takes a journey on a newly built road through the remote mountains of the country’s north in search of a slice of mishavin cheese. After decades of communist rule, Albania started its transition to democracy in 1991. It hasn’t been easy. The country, which borders Greece and Macedonia, remains one of the poorest in Europe; it experienced massive rural depopulation, emigration and has stubbornly high levels of unemployment. However, many are convinced one answer to many of Albania’s problems lies in its food and farming past. Tucked away in the mountainous communities of the north are some of the oldest food traditions in the Balkans, from dairy and meat products to foraged fruits and fermented vegetables. Could these foods be the basis for a new form of entrepreneurialism and kick start a tourism industry? The Albanian government and NGOs operating in the country think so. (Photo: Albanian mishavin cheese)
Jul 09, 2016
Plough Your Own Furrow?
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The British people have voted to quit the European Union. That would leave the UK once again in charge of its own agricultural and fisheries policy – so what should that future look like? Could we see a return to the Cod Wars, where countries used gunboat diplomacy to assert their fishing rights? We hear from fishermen in Scotland, keen to win back control over their waters. Plus, dairy farmers in Cornwall tell us they fear a future where exports to the EU may become more expensive. And, we look to New Zealand, which became the only developed country in the world to withdraw financial support for its farmers in the 1980s - could that be the model for the UK to follow? We are joined by a panel of guests - Geoff Pickering, a Yorkshire sheep farmer, Guy Smith, vice-president of the National Farmers Union and Vincent Smith, an agricultural economist at Montana State University in the US. (Photo: A ploughing competition in Scotland. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Jul 02, 2016
Mind your Manners
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It's not what you eat, but the way that you eat it on this week's The Food Chain. As people are exposed to cuisines from all over the world, we ask if there has been a global shrugging off of table manners. From how we sit, to the tools we use, is there a best way to consume food? And what do your eating implements of choice - hands, cutlery, or chopsticks - say about your cultural identity? We start at Lalibela, an Ethiopian restaurant in North London where experts in dining etiquette and history join us to eat a feast with their hands. Food historian Bee Wilson tells us cutlery is about so much more than just manners, and explains how entire cultures of eating are founded on utensils. Lunchtime diners in Delhi reveal what we are missing when we pick up a knife and fork, and Indian food historian and critic Pushpesh Pant explains how people across the country are rediscovering their regional and cultural roots in the way they eat. Plus, a chef at a top-end Delhi restaurant tells us why he thinks the tide is turning in fine dining. In ancient Greece elite men reclined to eat. Dr Ayesha Akbar, a Consultant in Gastroenterology tells us why they may have had the right idea. We also discuss the benefits of communal eating - and find out why some people fly into a frenzy of rage at the sound of chewing and slurping. Finally, it has been said that while on the European continent people have good food, but in England people have good table manners. We ask James Field, from the very British institution, Debretts, for a lesson in how to eat in polite company. (Photo: Food at Lalibela restaurant in London)
Jun 25, 2016
Seeds, Syrup and Subversion
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A rebel grandmother faces losing her livelihood after smuggling maple syrup in Canada, a Vermont gardener stocks fridges full of seeds, an artist plants vegetables on the streets of Los Angeles, and a widow in India blames ‘foreign seeds’ for a string of suicides. Meet the rebels and revolutionaries fighting back against what some see as a growing food dictatorship. Just six companies sell almost two-thirds of the world's seeds, and potential takeovers raise the possibility that number could shrink to three. Are we heading towards a world where all seeds, fertiliser, and pesticides are in the hands of just one company? We are joined by experts from both sides of the debate as we listen to stories of subversion. (Photo: An Indian farmer arranges a display of grains and seeds. Credit: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)
Jun 18, 2016
Faster Food
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As the Olympic torch edges closer to Rio, we explore how food can make you a better athlete. We start in Brazil where we meet the man responsible for feeding the best athletes on the planet - from a kitchen the size of three football fields. Our producer has a kick about with Arsenal Football Club’s nutritionist in London, and we talk to Olympians past and present about what they eat. We delve into the science of nutrigenomics and ask whether you can give athletes an edge by designing their diets around their DNA. At what point does a specialist diet give an athlete an unfair advantage? And what do nutritionists and athletes really think about sports drinks? Plus, a man moves his family to the Kenyan highlands to train and eat with its highland runners. And, a New York punk singer and vegan Ironman tells us why he thinks strong athletes do not need meat. (Photo: Athletes running through a field. Credit: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images)
Jun 11, 2016
Extreme Farming
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How has one of the world’s smallest countries become one of its biggest food producers? This week we visit a tiny nation responsible for the second largest exports of farmed food. Its vegetable, fruit, and livestock farmers are pushing the limits of productivity – how do they get so much food out of so little land? We visit a dairy farm run almost entirely by robots, one of the country’s many industrial-sized greenhouses, and a farm on the roof of a former factory. With the planet’s soaring population, could this country be a model for global farming? Plus, what impact is such intensive farming having on the environment, human health and animal welfare? Presenter: Anna Holligan. Editor: Simon Tulett
Jun 04, 2016
Is Junk Food the New Smoking?
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We know that both smoking and obesity can contribute to an early death. In fact health professionals are now telling us that junk food is even worse than tobacco. But do the parallels between the two industries run deeper than that? They have both been accused of cynical marketing, powerful lobbying and trying to avoid regulation. Some people have even suggested big food is taking a leaf from the big tobacco playbook. Manuela Saragosa asks whether junk food is the new smoking.
May 28, 2016
Fish Fight
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Fish are a vital source of protein around the world, but there are ever more fishermen chasing ever fewer fish. Most wild fisheries are at, or near, breaking point and it is estimated up to a third of all fish are caught illegally, feeding an underworld of crime. We find out how the growing pressure is leading to violent clashes on the high seas and joins an Indonesian coastguard patrol chasing and shooting vessels out of their waters. We ask Interpol how it is trying to police the oceans and find out how illegal fishing is tied up with a criminal underworld of drugs and human trafficking. Plus, experts tell us what consumers should look out for, and we discover fish farming may not be the answer to the problem. (Photo: The Indonesian Navy blows up the illegal fishing vessel the MV Viking in the waters of Tanjung, West Java, 2016. Credit: Antara Foto, Reuters)
May 21, 2016
A Dog's Dinner?
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Pet food is a global multi-billion dollar industry, but does it cater more to us humans than our four-legged friends? We swap the dinner plate for the dog bowl to find out what we feed our furry companions, and why. We examine the pet food supply chain and find out how intertwined it is with our own, both in terms of raw materials and regulation. And with pet obesity and diabetes increasing in many parts of the world, we ask if we have passed on our own bad eating habits and talk to those trying to reverse the trend. We also hear from a vet on the scientific advisory board for Nestle, the world's second largest pet food manufacturer. Plus, what do a 19th Century electrician and a sailor's biscuit have to do with modern day pet food. And, from raw food to dog bakeries, we bring you the very latest in pet palette trends, including a taste-test of the most exclusive dog treats available on the market. (Photo: Dog with food bowl. Credit: Thinkstock)
May 14, 2016
Disaster Food: Feeding a Country in Crisis
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How does a country feed itself following an earthquake, flood or drought? The Food Chain looks at the role of food in disaster relief - from the emergency response to the longer-term efforts to restore devastated farmland. We speak to Nepal's farmers to hear how they coped in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake. An aid worker scrambled to Kathmandu tells us how the World Food Programme hired 25,000 mountaineers to deliver food to remote communities cut off by the disaster. We go behind the scenes at a leading supplier of emergency food, Nutriset, which makes peanut paste and milk products for malnourished children and adults around the world. Plus, how agriculture bears the brunt of the economic damage caused by natural disasters, but receives a tiny proportion of aid funding - the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations tells us the balance must be redressed. And when food aid can do more harm than good - we hear how farmers in Haiti are angry about US plans to send 500 tonnes of surplus peanuts to help the country recover from a three-year drought, and how prime agricultural land was lost in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. (Photo: A Nepalese earthquake survivor in front of a destroyed farm. Credit: Philippe Lopez, Getty Images)
May 07, 2016
Bottled Water: Do We Really Need It?
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It has been described as the ultimate marketing trick, but the allure of bottled water is something more and more people are swallowing. With global sales set to overtake those of soda, The Food Chain asks why so many of us are paying for something we could easily get for free. With prices of some bottles hundreds of times more expensive than the tap we visit a water testing lab to see if there is any difference between them. The industry claims it offers a healthier alternative to soda drinks, but opponents say it causes unnecessary environmental damage. We find out how bottled water is coming under attack in drought-stricken California, and whether the criticisms are fair. In parts of the world where safe drinking water is difficult or impossible to come by, can bottled water be a lifesaver? We have a report from Tanzania's capital, Dar es Salaam. Plus, we speak to Marco Settembri, head of Nestle Waters, one of the world's biggest water bottling firms. (Photo: A man stores bottles at a warehouse in Afghanistan. Credit: Noorullah Shirzada, Getty Images)
Apr 30, 2016
Eating With Our Ears: The Sound of Food
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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)
Apr 23, 2016
Animals on Antibiotics: Could Pigs on Pills Make us Ill?
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The animals we eat consume more than 60% of the world’s antibiotics - but not always because they are sick. This week, the Food Chain explores the controversy over the use of antibiotics in agriculture to promote growth and prevent illness. Amid dire warnings that we are heading into a dangerous new world of resistance to antibiotics, we ask whether there really is a link between their use on farms and human resistance. From large scale agricultural businesses in China, to small scale farmers in Africa, presenter Mike Johnson hears from both sides of the debate. Dr Brian Evans from the World Organisation for Animal Health explains how the amount of antibiotics given to animals varies from country to country, and is proving hard to regulate. Pig farmer Jonathan Aganga in Nigeria - with his bag of antibiotics at his side - tells us why he believes they're essential for his livelihood. We also hear from Professor Yanzhong Huang, an expert on public health in China and whose brother is a pig farmer in Jiangsu province. Plus we visit a busy London food market, to hear what consumers make of the controversy. Presented by Mike Johnson, produced by Emily Thomas. (Photo: Piglets at Jonathan Aganga's farm, Nigeria)
Apr 16, 2016
Food Chain Late Night
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As part of the BBC’s Identity season we meet the people who feed us after hours, following the characters and cuisines that only come out after dark. Starting with the heady rush of a London kebab shop, Mike Johnson explores late night food culture around the globe. In an increasingly 24-hour world, how and when we eat is changing. What do our late night food habits say about our identities? We meet the late-night taco eaters of Mexico City, and find out why Hong Kong street vendors are under threat. Plus we hear what happens to your body when your meal times are out of sync with your circadian rhythms, and tell you where in the world you can buy an edible Rolex for forty-five cents. Night-owls only, on this episode of The Food Chain. Presented by Mike Johnson, produced by Emily Thomas, and edited by Kent DePinto. (Photo: Taco vendor Alfredo works late into the night in Mexico City. Credit: James Fredrick)
Apr 09, 2016
Front of House
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What’s life like for a career waiter at the top of their game? The Food Chain looks at the business of serving and pleasing the ever-fickle customer. The food service industry is facing a cycle of disruption, with business practices changing as rapidly as the customers at lunch hour. We'll look at the current topic du jour - the controversy of tipping and how a movement to democratize the service industry may leave some minimum wage earners struggling to keep up. Manuela Saragosa contemplates the financial realities of life as a waiter – and how tipping your server may actually make them poorer in the long run. Also, we talk to a chef who decided to eliminate tipping when she realised the people serving the food were making more than those cooking it. And would you pay for a reservation? This week, the tables are literally being turned. Presented by Manuela Saragosa. Produced by Kent DePinto and Emily Thomas. (Photo: A waitress in Nantes, France. Credit: Getty Images/ Frank Perry.)
Apr 02, 2016
Food and Nostalgia
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Manuela Saragosa explores the power food has to evoke memory and how memory impacts the food we eat. Jamie Oliver’s mentor – Italian chef Gennaro Contaldo – cooks up a batch of his most nostalgic dish, his mama’s pasta, and tell us why he prepares it when he is feeling down. A neurologist explains why food and smells have such a powerful impact on our brains. And, find out why ‘brand nostalgia’ is a marketing dream when it comes to getting people to part with their cash. From Tokyo to Moscow via Nairobi we hear stories about your favourite comfort foods and meet the company using nostalgia to help people with dementia regain their appetites. Finally, we travel down under to find out why a humble collection of children’s birthday cake recipes has been dubbed ‘the greatest Australian book ever published.’ (Photo: Children receiving free meals. Credit: Getty Images)
Mar 26, 2016
Is Convenience Killing Us?
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Food that has been processed, packaged, flavoured and often pre-cooked for us has increasingly become a normal part of everyday life around the globe. But what is the rise and rise of convenience food really doing to us? Many argue it is the root cause of spiralling obesity and diabetes rates, but could we survive without it and feed the world in the process? Manuela Saragosa chews over the issues with a global panel of experts: Award-winning investigative journalist Joanna Blythman, author of Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry's Darkest Secrets; Jean-Claude Moubarac, an anthropologist and researcher in nutrition specialising in the effect of processed foods; Food journalist Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor. Plus, we travel to China to look at the cultural impact of ‘western’ food. And, historian Rachel Laudan tells us why processed food is at the very heart of what makes us human. (Photo: Supermarket aisles. Credit: Thinkstock)
Mar 19, 2016
Food Waste: How Low Can it Go?
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This week, the Food Chain delves deep into food waste: a global problem of epic proportions that is costing one in every three of the world's calories. In January 2016, France became the very first country to ban supermarkets from destroying or throwing away unsold food. It was all thanks to the vision of one man: Arash Derambarsh. He tells Manuela Saragosa how he did it and why the rest of the world should follow suit. But, when it comes to waste: who is the main culprit along the food chain? And what can be done to turn the tide? We speak to Kenyan vegetable producers on the challenge of coping with last minute order changes from Supermarkets and review a high-tech solution from South Korea that has seen food waste drop by up to 40%. We ask food giant Nestle what the role of big business should be and a start-up entrepreneur tells us why food waste is a “modern day gold rush”. And what about you and me? Is an attitude problem amongst consumers the biggest hurdle to overcome? We explore consumer psychology from ‘ugly vegetables'’ to convincing the French to use 'doggy bags'. Image: Leftover food, Credit: Thinkstock
Mar 12, 2016
No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?
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From power lunches to 'desktop dining', we unpick the relationship between food and the workplace. We trace how industrialisation played its part in forging the origins of the modern lunch break and how employers began using food as a way to control their workforce. We take a trip back to 19th Century New York where a swelling labour force gave rise to the 'Quick Lunch' - the precursor to the fast-food we know and love today. Google's very first executive chef reveals the secrets of Silicon Valley’s canteen culture and how he fulfilled his brief to "keep people on campus all the time" with his food. Plus, we ask what the humble pre-packed sandwich can teach us about changing attitudes to women, work and convenience. Manuela Saragosa tracks down the BBC's most loyal lunch lovers and spends an afternoon with fire fighters in London who are living proof of the theory that colleagues that eat together perform better as a team. Plus, we put together a handy guide of 'desktop dining' dos and don'ts to safely navigate you through your lunch hour. (Photo: A man eating at his desk looking at his laptop scrren. Credit: Thinkstock)
Mar 05, 2016
Food, Power and Punishment
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Nothing to eat but stale bread and water - an enduring image of incarceration, but what part should food play in punishment? In America, the 'Nutraloaf' - a compressed food-stuff with just enough calories to keep you alive - has been used for decades to punish prisoners in solitary confinement, but many say it contravenes even the most basic human rights. Manuela Saragosa speaks to the man who brought a class action against the state of New York to get it banned. Plus, a prison dietician tells us about the difficulty of planning a nutritious daily menu on a budget of just $2.30 per day. Food can also play a vital role in rehabilitation and help recreate a sense of normality. We hear from the Dutch prison using nutrition to appease violent behaviour, and find out about The Clink Restaurant - a dining experience with a twist. We get a lesson from a former convict on the challenging art of prison cooking. Finally, when all freedom has been taken from you, how the refusal of food can become a powerful political weapon. Featuring: Daniel Genis: Journalist, writer, ex-convict Heather Ann Thompson: Mass incarceration historian, Michigan University Taylor Pendergrass: New York Civil Liberties Union Barbara Wakeen: Prison nutritionist Ap Zaalberg: Dutch Ministry of Justice Dr Sarah Campbell: Professor of Irish and British history, Newcastle University Al Crisci: Creator of the Clink Restaurant (Photo: Hands behind bars. Credit: Thinkstock)
Feb 27, 2016
The Truth About Diabetes
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Over 347 million people worldwide have diabetes, and that figure is set to rise to half a billion in the next 20 years. It is a disease that is spiralling out of control, but how did we get here and who is to blame? The BBC’s Anu Anand and a panel of experts unpick some of the major issues in the diabetes debate from ‘sin taxes’ for food companies to the role of culture and race. Plus they answers questions from listeners around the world about how to prevent and live with the illness. Contributors: Hank Cardello - Director Obesity Solutions Initiative, The Hudson Institute Dr. Aseem Malhotra - Cardiologist and co-founder Action on Sugar Dr. Gojka Roglic - WHO Diabetes Programme
Feb 06, 2016
Down with 'Foodies'?
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Is being cool a sign of culinary class? In the autumn of 2015 the Cereal Killer café in East London was attacked by protestors. They viewed it as a symbol of rapid gentrification - arguing that the cafe- which serves cereal from around the world- exemplified the rising inequality in the UK's capital. It led to some basic questions about running a food business. And the tensions between what’s trendy, what’s traditional and what’s affordable when it comes to eating out. But a larger discussion, about conspicuous consumerism and the so- called ‘foodie movement’ looms. In this programme from London, Sarah Stolarz explores the intersections of city living, being upwardly mobile and the pursuit of the next best meal. We look at food trends and their irresistible appeal when it comes to social media- although it turns out, no one actually likes to be called a 'foodie'. Is access to new and varied food becoming more democratic, or are social media sites glossing over the surface of the culinary class wars? And what does that have to do with the price of pineapples? Featuring: Alan Keery: Co-Owner, Cereal Killer Café Josėe Johnston: Author, 'Food, Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape' Polly Russell: Curator at the British Library @ClerkenwellBoyEc1 David Sax: Author of 'The Tastemakers: Why we're crazy for cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue' Photo: multi-coloured macaroons, Credit: Thinkstock
Dec 12, 2015
Breast Practice
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As part of the BBC's 100 Women season, The Food Chain dedicates an episode to working mothers and how they feed their babies. More women are entering the global workforce, and many of them become mothers at a crucial point in their careers. But with the availability of parental leave as variable as there are countries in the world, many women must return to work while their child is still nursing. Meanwhile, the WHO says that a woman should exclusively breastfeed her child up to six months of age. So, how do you juggle the demands of feeding a baby with a working life? We'll hear about a project in Bangladesh that helps garment factory workers continue to breastfeed their babies, and we visit Indonesia where a taxi service exists to ferry breast milk from working mothers to waiting infants at home. And from Hong Kong to Ivory Coast, Manuela Saragosa reunites our panel of BBC correspondents - who are also working mothers - to discuss the challenges of reporting on their patch and pumping milk. Image: Baby breastfeeding, Credit: Thinkstock Featuring: Dr. Larry Grummer-Strawn, World Health Organization Phyllis Rippey, Professor of Sociology at the University of Ottawa Micaela Collins, University of Toronto Janet Golden, Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Jersey Karishma Vaswani, BBC Asia Business Correspondent Juliana Liu, BBC Hong Kong Correspondent Tamasin Ford, BBC Ivory Coast Correspondent
Nov 28, 2015
Chinatown
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Nearly every major city in the world has one- a district where Chinese immigrants have settled to live, work and eat. This week in a collaboration with BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Food Programme’, Dan Saladino takes you on a tour of Chinatowns around the world. From one of the oldest, in Manila, to one of the newest, in Johannesburg- Chinatowns create a global trail of economic and culinary influence. And the food that they serve reflects not only the tastes of home, but of the adopted countries. In this programme we ask how these urban communities reflect not only the history of Chinese immigration, but the changing role of China as a global power. Including visits to Havana, to look at the legacy of communism in a Chinatown that rarely serves Chinese food, and Shanghai, where the fortune cookie - a westernized version of Chinese cuisine is finding a new market at home. Featuring: Fuchsia Dunlop Jennifer 8. Lee Peter Kwong Chan Chow Wah Gerry Choo-ah James Wong With reporting from: Vivienne Nunis Celia Hatton and Maria Byrne Victoria Phenethi Will Grant Photo: Gates of Chinatown, Credit: Thinkstock
Nov 21, 2015
Back of House
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It can be a tough life in the pressure cooker of the professional kitchen. A restaurant is a crucible of creativity, heat, and long hours. Low entry level wages often twinned with culinary college debt can make it hard for would-be cooks to stand the financial heat. In London, Simon Jack sits down with four chefs - all at different stages in their career - to discuss the most pressing issues of the culinary age. We put everything on the table, from the current chef shortage to the changing dynamic between a restaurant's cooking staff and its serving staff, and the pressures of staying on top of the fine dining game. (Photo: Restaurant kitchen and two staff)
Nov 14, 2015
Food Far From Home
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The biggest refugee crisis since World War Two continues to intensify and once the treacherous journey to physical safety is complete, refugees have to contend with the next imperative for survival: how to get their next meal. We hear tales from the front line - from the informal efforts of volunteers on the Greek island of Lesbos to the more formally run Zaatari camp in Jordan. In Greece, newly arrived refugees tell how they were too scared to eat on the boat journey from Turkey. We hear how the humble banana has become a symbol of salvation and the source of a mounting rubbish problem. Then to Zaatari – arguably Jordan’s fourth largest city- where world agencies are trying to feed each person on about $30 a month and the question of future funding looms. And from Damascus to Bogotá - how a mother and son share their recipes over the phone in order to stay connected.
Oct 31, 2015
Food of War
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What are the challenges of finding the next meal in times of war? Feeding an army is a giant exercise in logistics, and it is also a testing ground for the food business. We hear how the food technology developed for soldiers in the field has made its way to our plates today. We speak to a soldier who has lived through three generations of military rations about how the type of food issued to troops can indicate the mission in store for them. Plus, we hear first-hand stories from people working in conflict zones, from aid workers struggling to get emergency rations into war-torn Syria, to our own BBC correspondents. (Photo: Members of Royal Air Force Three Mobile Catering Squadron)
Sep 12, 2015
India: How to Feed a Nation
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Can the world’s largest democracy guarantee its citizens the right to their next meal? As part of the BBC India season, The Food Chain takes a deeper look at the challenges and changes within the Indian food system. The population is set to become the world’s largest by 2022, surpassing China. But many obstacles to food remain, falling along the entire spectrum of development. From severe malnourishment in children to the race to get food off the farm before it rots, Anu Anand explores several aspects of a nation trying to keep up with the appetites of a rapidly changing society. Photo Credit: Handing out food in India, Getty Images
Sep 05, 2015
India: Faith, Food, and Politics
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How food, identity, religion, and politics are changing the way India eats. Anu Anand visits Mumbai’s biggest slaughterhouse to assess the economic impact of a total ban on beef and explores the right of an individual to choose what they eat in the world's largest democracy. Plus, we visit a holy town that is seeking to become fully vegetarian, leaving some of its residents feeling unwelcome.
Aug 29, 2015
Food of Love
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From a baby’s first cry to the funeral feast: food as the language of love. This week, the Food Chain examines the link between our food and our feelings. Why, in times of high emotion do we tend to give and receive food? And why is the compulsion to care for others through preparing and sharing food a part of all cultures? We look at the science behind craving childhood comfort foods and hear your personal stories. Plus can all that generosity pose a physical risk to our well-being? Featured voices: Elisabeth Mahoney: Baker Jeni Barnett: Broadcaster Hewete Haileselassie: BBC Africa Lizzie Mabbot: author of China Town Kitchen Peymane Adab: Professor of Public Health at the University of Birmingham Carol Landau: Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Brown University. John S. Allen: author of The Omnivorous Mind Colm O'Regan: Comedian (Photo: Heart-shaped strawberry. Credit: Thinkstock)
Aug 15, 2015
Chicken: Too Much of a Good Thing?
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We explore one of the world’s most important foods - the chicken. It is set to become the world’s most popular protein in four years time, surpassing pork. But does our taste for our favourite bird put our lives at risk? We discuss how poultry farmers are becoming increasingly embattled as highly contagious strains of avian flu continue to spread across the world. And we explore the genetic journey the a jungle bird from south east Asia took to our universal plate- via an American supermarket contest. Featured voices: Andrew Lawler: author Why the Chicken Crossed the World John Oxford: Emeritus Professor of Virology at the University of London Abou Simbel Ouattara: Egg farmer, Burkina Faso Lee Perry-Gal: University of Haifa Wesley Batista, CEO JBS S.A (Photo: Chickens being farmed. Credit: Thinkstock)
Aug 14, 2015
How to (Not) Grow Your Food Business
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Do you have a family recipe that friends say you should bottle and sell? Simon Jack looks at how you can grow a food business from scratch, how to choose an investor wisely, and how to ready your kitchen-cooked product to sell to the masses. Is growth in the food business simple economics - supply and demand - or is it something more intangible? We ask if a food business can stay small and still survive. As a company begins to supply more food to a wider market, how can you keep their commitment to quality, without having to sacrifice quantity. Plus, we look at how micro-brews are a microcosm of buying and selling on the bigger market. (Photo: Conveyor belt of bottled beer. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Jun 20, 2015
Sexual Politics in the Kitchen
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How does our gender affect our relationship with food? Does it determine what we want to eat, how we cook or what we buy? And as gender roles change, how too are the traditional roles for men and women changing when it comes to food? We speak to renowned food campaigner and feminist Susie Orbach, retailer Andrew Opie and chef turned whole-food campaigner Michel Nischan about how food is marketed to women and about the gender stereotypes still prevalent. We talk to two Michelin starred female chefs about sexism in the professional kitchen. We visit Mauritania to hear about traditional gender roles in the fishing industry there and we get an insight into the 1970s idea of what constitutes 'masculine' food by taking a glance back at Playboy, with food historian Polly Russell. (Photo: Michelin-starred French chef Helene Darroze in the kitchen. Credit: Jean-Pierre Muller/AFP/Getty Images)
Jun 13, 2015
The End of Eating Wild Fish?
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Most of the food we eat - beef chicken, wheat, apples, corn - is farmed on the land, produced under controlled conditions and transported to market rather than gathered from its natural habitat. But one source of the world’s protein is still taken straight from the wild. Fish and other sea food. That's now changing, but should it? This week The Food Chain has a special programme about the ocean, and the meals we take from it. Tanya Beckett reports from Lisbon where world leaders are meeting to discuss the oceans' economic fate, while Audrey Tinline is in Norway asking whether fish can ever be a truly sustainable source of food.
Jun 06, 2015
How Do We Know What’s Good For Us?
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Why is food advice so confusing? Up for debate is the role of fat in our diet. Adrian Golberg takes a look at the methods behind determining what food is good for us and what food is bad for us, and asking why is it so hard to be certain. He speaks to Nina Teicholz, who tells the story of Ancel Keys, the researcher whose work laid the foundation for many dietary guidelines today, as well as Gary Taubes, a journalist who wants to improve the way nutritional studies are carried out. Ayela Spiro of the British Nutrition Foundation says that nutrition, like all science, is ever evolving, and not always exact. (Photo: Woman holds up a hamburger in one hand and an apple in the other. Credit: Thinstock)
May 30, 2015
Spice and Status
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A deeper look at the global network of commerce that comes with the flavouring of our food. Marnie Chesterton visits the UK's Kew Gardens, and gets a better understanding of the horticulture behind many of the world’s most popular spice plants. Simon Jack tries to understand the appeal of competitive eating when it comes to heat, sampling some hot sauce made with the Naga Viper chilli. Plus, we hear about the business behind growing the world’s hottest chilli pepper. And, Polly Russell of The British Library reads through one of the oldest recipe scrolls in modern English to show us how spices were used in the courts of kings.
May 23, 2015
Coffee: Globalisation’s Drink of Choice
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How the coffee industry is changing for growers, sellers, and consumers around the world. This week's programme follows in pursuit of a widely traded commodity- meeting connoisseurs from every part of the coffee chain, from the picking of the coffee cherry to the very last sip. Coffee is not an industry without its challenges. Small farmers are threatened by external factors like climate change and are subject to price volatility on the open markets. Maud Jullien reports from Burundi, a country trying to market itself towards niche coffee markets amidst political turmoil. Then in Colombia, Arturo Wallace meets a real life marketing mascot in the form of a farmer portraying Juan Valdez, the symbol of the Colombian coffee brand and speaks to the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos. And Shalu Yadav is in India exploring how an aspirational class is setting aside their tea in favour of something stronger. Plus, how many cups a week is too much?
May 16, 2015
Fighting Food Crime
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We meet some of the people fighting food fraud around the world. Manuela Saragosa asks what risks the consumer faces when they buy food that has reached super-market shelves via a complicated global supply chain, and speaks to some of the people working to improve the traceability of our food. We meet the 'wine police' asked to investigate the origins of a $26,000 bottle of Petrus. Also, the leader of the 'flying squad' of the Danish Food Administration talks about what happens when the food company you are investigating only has a mailbox for an address. Plus, tracing food at an atomic level - how a new method for detecting food fraud has its origins in crime scene investigations. (Photo: From left, a bottle 1990 Bordeaux's Chateau Petrus, a 1996 Le Montrachet Grand Cru, a 1989 Musigny Grand Cru, a 1985 La Romanee and a bottle of 1986 Chateau d'Yquem of 1986. Credit: Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)
Mar 27, 2015
Picky Eaters
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Why won’t your kid eat broccoli? And should you bother to force them? We ask whether children need a different diet, do their palates differ, and whether they should be given more say in what they eat. This week, the BBC has been handing over microphones, recording equipment, studios and air time to children, as part of an annual event called School Report - where children take control. We hear from reporters at a school in Washington DC, about the tricky task of providing healthy meals, when the children do not like them. Manuela Saragosa speaks to Dr Jackie Blissett about neophobia - and the evolutionary reason why children become picky eaters. And Amy Bentley, author of Inventing Baby Food gives us a potted history of potted baby food. Plus, a panel of teenagers takeover the studio, to share their food likes and dislikes (Picture: Child eating vegetable soup Credit: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)
Mar 20, 2015
Eating For Two?
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What do snails, tamarind and parsley all have in common? They are all foods that - according to World Service followers on twitter- pregnant women have been told to avoid around the world. We explore the prenatal diet, and ask whether the advice that pregnant women receive about what they should eat is based not only on medical understanding, but cultural understanding as well. The Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944 was a famine that killed thousands. But this tragedy provided a study group - babies who were starved in the womb - who are studied for life long health changes. From them, we learn that what our grandmothers eat may have consequences for us. We discuss what happens if you go through pregnancy when you are living in a culture different to the one in which you were raised. We look at how personalised nutrition will customise pregnant mothers' diets in the future, and we hear how an Indian initiative is combatting maternal malnutrition by feeding mothers fortified samosas, not vitamins. (Photo: Belarussian women attend an annual parade for pregnant women in central Minsk. Credit: Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty Images)
Mar 13, 2015
Farm and Fortune?
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The origins of our food can be scrutinised, analysed, inspected, and disrupted but the production of what we eat ultimately lies with the farmer. But is modern farming a viable career choice? And what happens when the youngest generation no longer wants to farm? Manuela Saragosa examines life on the farm, what it takes to be a farmer and the changing state of agriculture. Journalist Jesse Hirsch joins in to offer his step-by-step guide to the trials and tribulations of working the land. And we hear from the Ugandan farmer who wants to entice young people away from cities and back onto the farm to make a living. Plus, comedian Colm O’Regan explains why there is a big difference between growing up on a farm and actually being a farmer.
Mar 06, 2015
Should the Government Pay for our Food?
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Does the government have a duty to feed us? Or should we each look after our own table? Angela Saini looks at the controversies behind handing out to the world's hungry citizens. In Egypt, where the price and availability of bread is a political issue, the government has introduced a new smart card system to avoid long queues and fights outside bakeries. We hear from the remote region of Canada where shops charge residents $28 for a cabbage or $200 for a turkey. Plus, we look at both sides of the American food stamp debate, with politicians arguing over whether food welfare means vitality or dependency.
Feb 27, 2015
Tech at the Table
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Is technology at mealtimes too disruptive? The BBC's Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones joins The Food Chain for dinner and talks about what happened the week he took his culinary habits to Twitter. We get some insight into how our eating behaviour changes once a gadget is placed in front of us. Angela Saini hears about a fork that can monitor when you've had enough, and asks whether a computer can come up with a better recipe than a human. Plus, we hear from you on whether it's rude to bring your phone to the table.
Feb 20, 2015
Eat my words!
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How much does the way food is described influence what we eat? Superstar apple breeder David Bedford tells us why he spends up to nine months finding the perfect name for his new creations. Can words be too enticing? We hear the story of the humble Patagonian toothfish, whose re-branding success story nearly led to its extinction. President of the Gourmand World Cookbook awards Edouard Cointreau takes us on a tour of the seemingly insatiable global market for cookbooks. But has our love for writing about food gone too far? Language specialist Steven Poole tells presenter Angela Saini why some restaurant menu jargon infuriates him. Plus food writer Fuschia Dunlop shares her reflections on Chinese menus that attract diners with such adjectives as 'slimy', 'gristly' and 'glutinous'.
Feb 13, 2015
Dinner for One
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Is there a penalty for eating alone? Do you take a hit to your wallet, your social life and even your health by dining solo? Sociologist Eric Klinenberg reveals that eating alone is the greatest hurdle for otherwise happy single dwellers. Presenter Manuela Saragosa tests this by taking a table at the Dutch solo-diner only restaurant, Eenmaal. Eating alone means you eat differently. The figures show there’s a huge increase in food designed for one. It costs more but the growing band of solo eaters are prepared to pay a premium for the extra convenience. We visit Liverpool University’s eating behaviour laboratory, kitted out with hidden technologies which unpick how we eat. Plus we hear why, in South Korea, people are being paid to eat over the internet.
Feb 09, 2015
The Cold Chain
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Where does the food in your fridge come from and how did it get there? More than likely it made its way along the cold chain - the refrigerated transport of food and drink around the world. As part of the BBC World Service's special series called Fridgenomics, The Food Chain looks into the wider networks at play when it comes to getting fresh food to your plate. Manuela Saragosa experiences minus 24 degrees Celsius at the London Gateway port to see how chilled food coming in from abroad is stored and inspected. We also hear about one man's efforts to implement his own cold chain in Tanzania. Plus, refrigeration has come a long way, from Icelandic traders using salt, to compressing liquids into gas. But what effect does our demand for chilled or frozen out-of-season food have on our environment and our diets?
Jan 30, 2015
Variety Pack
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Simon Jack brings you tales of making more from what we have already got - be that using plant protein to make eggless mayonnaise or harvesting energy from crop by-product like straw. In Lesotho they are using their abundance of freshwater to farm trout for Japanese sushi. But there is a spot of indulgence on the programme too. Simon speaks to Dunkin’ Donuts CEO Nigel Travis, who says they offer healthy options, and we hear about the growing appetite for craft beer in South Korea.
Jan 09, 2015
Sugar: A Love-Hate Relationship
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On average we consume some 27 kilos of sugar every year - and that figure is on the rise. But is that a good thing, or is sugar the root cause of many of the world's biggest, not-so-sweet, health concerns? Ed Butler speaks to professor Robert Lustig, who is leading the fight against sugar, and gets a response from Sugar Nutrition UK. We go to Berkeley, California where a tax on sugary drinks has just been implemented. And we hear from a couple who rowed from California to Hawaii on a sugar-free diet.
Jan 02, 2015
Feast
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Audrey Tinline looks at the political and economic history behind having a great big meal with a large group of people. We find out what happens to your body when you eat too much: the science of over-eating.We look at how festive food has been used as a hallmark of social and political dominance - beginning with how it came to feature so prominently in still life art. And how the recipe for a the British Christmas pudding was hijackaed as a stealth marketing tool for the Empire.
Dec 26, 2014
Food Technophobes v Technophiles
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Who should decide whether a food-related technology is safe? We hear from Mike Mack, CEO of Syngenta, one of the world’s biggest agri-businesses and from Bart Staes, food spokesperson for the European Parliament's Greens Group. We look at the science behind crop farming, from genetically modified crops to pesticides. Professor Ottoline Leyser, director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University, explains how exactly a crop is genetically modified. And could some types of pesticides be harming bees? Are you a food technophobe or technophile? We get views from across the globe, from Nairobi to New York, on the best way for science to help feed the world.
Dec 05, 2014
Whose Food is it Anyway?
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Does food maintain its national identity once it's cooked abroad? We'll look at why a recipe by chef Jamie Oliver for Jollof rice has many West Africans talking about their culinary heritage. Also,can you patent a recipe? We look at the relationship between intellectual property and food, and whether our food is for sharing or protecting. And how Parmigiano Reggiano may play a part in holding up EU- US trade talks.
Nov 28, 2014
Food and the Fall of the Berlin Wall
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As politics changes does our food follow suit? We hear how food tastes and names have altered according to the politics of the day. Mangalitsa for example - a type of hairy pig - fell out of favour in communist times in Hungary, but is now back on the menu as a premium dish. In China Kung Po chicken became known as Hongbao Jiding or Hula Jiding during the Cultural Revolution because it originally derived its name from an imperial official. And 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Domklause restaurant in the DDR museum is serving up food from an era when the city was divided.
Nov 14, 2014
Why Do We Waste So Much Food?
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About a third of what’s produced for human consumption isn’t eaten. We look at why the food we grow doesn’t always make it to our plate. It's not just the leftovers from a big meal. There are many ways that food gets wasted along the supply chain: the wheat that escapes the thresher, the apple that rolls off the truck on the way to the factory, or the tomatoes that rot while they are waiting to be sold. In emerging markets like China and India, attitudes toward food waste are changing. Elsewhere new technology is being developed to keep our food lasting longer.
Nov 07, 2014
Super Foods or Super Fads?
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Kale, quinoa, chia, blueberries, all members of a group of foods that have been around for a while, but have seen a sudden surge in global popularity. These so-called super foods are touted for their health benefits, but does their popularity stem from genuine science or robust marketing? Many super foods are grown in developing countries but have seen a rising popularity among consumers in the global north. Angela Saini explores what happens to a country when the local superfood becomes a global superstar.
Oct 31, 2014