The Food Chain

The Food Chain

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p028z2z0
The Food Chain examines the business, science and cultural significance of food, and what it takes to put food on your plate.


Single parents: Cooking solo
Aug 5 • 27 min
Money, time, and healthy choices can make mealtimes a challenge for many parents, but how do things change when sole responsibility falls on one adult’s shoulders? In some parts of the world single parent families are now more common than ever before, but…
Dominique Crenn: My life in five dishes
Jul 29 • 31 min
Abandoned by her biological mother at six months old, a victim of sexual harassment and discrimination in the kitchen, and a recent breast cancer survivor – Dominique Crenn has faced her fair share of battles. The award-winning chef, author and campaigner…
Does comfort food really comfort us?
Jul 22 • 32 min
It’s something many of us intuitively believe - certain foods have the power to make us feel better. But what’s the science behind this, why do we crave certain dishes, and do they provide solace for everyone? Graihagh Jackson explores what’s really…
Asma Khan: My life in five dishes
Jul 15 • 26 min
When Asma Khan was born it was said her mother cried, but not tears of joy. As a second daughter born in 1960s India, Asma felt she was a disappointment, even a burden, because she could not inherit and would cost her family a fortune in dowries. But she…
Jacques Pépin: My life in five dishes
Jul 8 • 34 min
Jacques Pépin is a household name across much of the US. He shot to fame starring alongside Julia Child on TV cookery shows in the 1990s, has written more than 30 books, and picked up multiple awards. He tells Graihagh Jackson about his precarious…
Losing your taste to coronavirus
Jul 1 • 29 min
Taste and smell loss are thought to be two of the most common symptoms of coronavirus, but some of the least understood, persisting long after the virus has gone. Scientists all over the world are racing to find out why Covid-19 is attacking these senses,…
Is lockdown good news for fish?
Jun 24 • 26 min
The fishing industry has been brought to its knees in some countries, with Covid-19 forcing fishing to stop. Graihagh Jackson asks if the global slowdown could present an opportunity for beleaguered fish stocks to flourish once more and what would it mean…
Antonio Carluccio: My life in five dishes
Jun 17 • 27 min
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…
Coronavirus: The survival business
Jun 10 • 30 min
Food businesses have been some of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Worldwide lockdowns have forced thousands of restaurants, bars and cafes to close, but many entrepreneurs have managed to keep their businesses afloat, forced to innovate to…
Has the crisis made us more generous?
Jun 3 • 26 min
Have you noticed how there have been so many acts of kindness during the pandemic, especially when it comes to food? Graihagh Jackson hears how millions were raised in a matter of days to feed healthcare workers and how people have rallied to support food…
Is our food creating pandemics?
May 27 • 28 min
Scientists are still trying to uncover exactly how COVID-19 emerged, although some evidence suggests the disease may have originated in bats and infected us via another animal host. Recently, we’ve seen the emergence of many such viruses - so-called…
Dan Barber: My life in five dishes
May 20 • 28 min
In an illustrious career spanning three decades, there’s little that booking-writing, seed-breading, ‘philosopher chef’ Dan Barber has not put his hands to. Celebrated as the poster child of the ‘farm to fork’ movement, he tells Graihagh Jackson how a…
Should China ban ‘wet’ markets?
May 13 • 28 min
China’s so-called ‘wet’ markets have been under intense scrutiny ever since the first coronavirus cases were linked to one in Wuhan six months ago. Now a growing number of influential figures, including leading White House adviser Dr Anthony Fauci, are…
What next for restaurants?
May 6 • 27 min
Lockdowns around the world have seen many restaurants close overnight, but how many will be able to re-open once restrictions are lifted? And if so, what will they look like? Graihagh Jackson hears from a top New York chef and a London food writer how an…
Coronavirus: Chefs fight back
Apr 29 • 29 min
Coronavirus has crippled the restaurant industry, leaving thousands of chefs fighting to save their businesses, but some have been using the crisis, and their own influence, to help and inspire others. Massimo Bottura, one of the world’s most celebrated…
Death by coronavirus or hunger?
Apr 22 • 29 min
As coronavirus continues to spread and lockdowns leave swathes of people unemployed, a new problem is emerging: hunger. It is being witnessed in communities around the world, especially where people are living hand to mouth. We travel to India and Kenya…
My quarantine kitchen
Apr 15 • 28 min
As the spread of Covid-19 confines millions of us to our homes, we go behind closed doors to hear how people all over the world are using food and cooking to help them through the crisis. Graihagh Jackson speaks to an artist from Iran who has found…
Coronavirus: Food’s frontline heroes
Apr 8 • 28 min
This week, we pay homage to the workers making sure we stay fed in times of lockdown. As farmers around the world struggle to find enough people to plant and harvest their crops, we travel to Bavaria in Germany to hear from a school teacher-turned hop…
Coronavirus: Where did all the food go?
Apr 1 • 29 min
As coronavirus tightens its grip on the world, many of us are facing life in lockdown and are worried about food. Graihagh Jackson takes a journey along the global food supply chain - via her grandparents - to see how it is holding up so far through the…
How not to run a brewery
Mar 25 • 26 min
If you are a beer lover, the idea of running your own brewery might sound like the stuff of dreams. And it might seem like the perfect time to do it - an explosion of interest has seen craft breweries pop up in huge numbers in many parts of the world. But…
The mystery of mukbang
Mar 18 • 31 min
What’s the fascination with watching total strangers eat plate after plate of junk food? Is it a grotesque and irresponsible spectacle, or could it be a way to tackle loneliness, and even help some deal with their own food issues? Graihagh Jackson finds…
The end of the road for street food?
Mar 11 • 27 min
Street food is one of the many charms of South East Asia, but there are signs this much-loved way of life and much-needed source of food is on the decline. We visit three of the region’s best-known street food areas – Bangkok, Singapore and Penang – to…
Fried chicken: Fast food champion
Mar 4 • 27 min
Fried chicken is loved the world over - it’s the most popular dish in global fast food, according to industry analysts, eclipsing even the burger. From Senegal to Singapore many countries have their own native twist on it, whether it’s covered in sesame…
Made in space
Feb 26 • 29 min
Why are companies blasting bottles of alcohol and crops into space? Are they just publicity stunts, or are there some serious scientific discoveries to be made? We explore the potential of space when it comes to producing food and drink - not for…
Why are people putting chemicals in our food?
Feb 19 • 26 min
Have you ever looked at the ingredients on your microwave meal and wondered what dextrose and sodium nitrite are doing in your dinner? These are some of the many chemicals used in processed foods - some are found in nature, but others can also be made in…
Nobu Matsuhisa: My life in five dishes
Feb 12 • 28 min
Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has more than 40 restaurants spread across six continents, many of them frequented by some of the world’s top celebrities. His business partner and friend is Hollywood star Robert De Niro, and he’s even been in a handful of movies…
Why is wheat making people sick?
Feb 5 • 27 min
Gluten-free is booming – it’s become a multi-billion dollar industry, supermarket aisles are crammed with products, with a number of high-profile celebrities endorsing their health impacts. But this is much more than a fad diet - doctors are seeing a…
The tipping point
Jan 29 • 28 min
In some corners of the world tipping a waiter or waitress would be considered an insult. In other countries, the exact opposite is true. So why did these dramatically different cultures of gratuity evolve, and how difficult is it to change them? We speak…
Fantasy, fiction and food
Jan 22 • 26 min
What do Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Lady and the Tramp have in common? Both use food in subtle ways to immerse us in their stories and help us make sense of fictitious worlds - from jumping chocolate frogs to kissing over spaghetti. The…
What’s climate change doing to cows?
Jan 15 • 26 min
Australia’s bushfires are thought to have killed more than one billion animals, and although many of the country’s wild species have been worst affected thousands of livestock have also died, some of them buried in mass graves. The severe droughts that…
Eat the year
Jan 1 • 26 min
New Year’s resolutions about food often involve cutting down on something, or giving something up, but how about committing to trying something new for the next 12 months? How much harder is it, and what do we learn about ourselves along the way? Graihagh…
Samin Nosrat: My life in five dishes
Dec 25, 2019 • 26 min
The award-winning star of Netflix series ‘Salt, Fat, Acid Heat’ and author of the best-selling cookbook of the same name tells us about her life through five of her most memorable dishes. The Iranian-American writer and cook has enjoyed a meteoric rise to…
I hate Christmas pudding!
Dec 18, 2019 • 26 min
Does your stomach turn at the thought of a Christmas pudding? How about pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? Foods like these, commonly served at annual celebrations, are deeply ingrained in our cultures, but why, and how hard is it to reject them? We meet three…
Can chocolate be clean?
Dec 11, 2019 • 26 min
The bittersweet world of chocolate is complex - cocoa beans are produced by some of the poorest people on the planet and turned into chocolate for some of the richest, and the sweet stuff is haunted by child labour, slavery, trafficking and deforestation.…
Sommeliers: Wine waiters uncorked
Dec 4, 2019 • 25 min
Sommeliers are to a restaurant’s wine what a head chef is to its food. These waiters taste and study thousands of bottles, and the best can even tell you exactly where a wine was grown and when its grapes were harvested, just with a sniff and a slurp. But…
Marcus Samuelsson: My life in five dishes
Nov 27, 2019 • 26 min
Award-winning chef, restaurateur and writer Marcus Samuelsson describes his extraordinary culinary and personal journey from one of the world’s poorest countries to Sweden and then to Harlem, New York. His life in five dishes takes us from his birthplace…
Can palm oil be sustainable?
Nov 20, 2019 • 32 min
It’s the world’s most consumed vegetable oil, used for everything from frying food to making it last longer – but can palm oil be produced in a way that doesn’t wreak enormous environmental and human damage? In conjunction with another BBC World Service…
Bakers: Earning a crust
Nov 13, 2019 • 26 min
Running a bakery is hard work - you’re up all night mixing, kneading, proving and baking, and then when the sun rises you need to actually sell your bread and run the business. It’s physically demanding too - repetitive strain injuries to hands are not…
Can you have your plate and eat it?
Nov 6, 2019 • 26 min
The food industry has a big problem with packaging, but what if you could simply eat your wrapper or coffee cup instead of throwing it away? Could packaging made from food ingredients prevent our oceans and landfill sites from being clogged with waste,…
How dangerous is your food delivery?
Oct 30, 2019 • 26 min
How dangerous is your takeaway? If you ever order food through an online delivery service like UberEats, DoorDash, or Deliveroo, you probably think only about the meal that will soon will arrive at your door - will it arrive quickly, and piping hot? You…
Will robot pickers change our fruit?
Oct 16, 2019 • 26 min
Across the world, as fruits ripen, teams of pickers set out across the fields. Without them, produce would be left to rot and farms profits would plummet. But in many countries, population shifts and changes to immigration laws have left farmers…
How to date a vegan
Oct 9, 2019 • 26 min
How can you have a successful relationship with someone whose eating habits you find repulsive, infuriating, even morally abhorrent? What do you do when your wife and mother are locked in a fierce battle over what you eat, when your long term partner…
How to cook for a megastar
Oct 2, 2019 • 26 min
What do the most famous names in film, sport and politics eat for dinner, and what does it say about who they really are? Three private chefs give us the ultimate insight into the lives of the rich and famous - after all, what’s more exposing than what…
Down on the farm: Suicide, stress and farmers
Sep 25, 2019 • 27 min
Farming has some of the highest suicide rates of any profession in many parts of the world. Emily Thomas explores why depression and stress amongst farmers is a global problem that is thought to be on the rise. It can be an incredibly tough business and…
Ken Hom: My life in five dishes
Sep 18, 2019 • 26 min
Ken Hom is a Chinese-American cook who became famous for introducing Chinese cooking to the British public through a BBC TV series in the early 1980s. Since then he has written almost 40 books, sold around eight million woks, and become regarded as an…
Eating with Etna
Sep 11, 2019 • 26 min
What’s it like to live and farm on one of the world’s most active volcanoes? Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, regularly erupts, blasting lava and ash over the Mediterranean island and causing dozens of earthquakes each year. So why do so many food producers…
Foraging: Pleasure or profit?
Sep 4, 2019 • 26 min
Most of us have no need to hunt in the wild for our food, so why is foraging seeing a resurgence in some parts of the world? Emily Thomas speaks to professional foragers in Peru, Sweden and England to find out the appeal of combing rocky shores for…
Ritual slaughter under threat
Aug 28, 2019 • 26 min
Belgium is the latest European country to put restrictions on religious slaughter methods. For many this is purely an animal welfare issue, but others see the changes as part of an anti-immigration shift pushed by right-wing nationalists. For some, the…
The young pub bosses reviving the British boozer
Aug 21, 2019 • 26 min
For decades we’ve been warned about the demise of the British pub, but despite this the number of young people signing up to run them appears to be rising. Pubs have been the cornerstone of UK communities for centuries, but around a quarter of them have…
Dynasties
Aug 14, 2019 • 26 min
What’s it like to have food in your blood? Would you want to spend all day working with your family, even if it was in a brewery or a chocolate factory? Emily Thomas meets the descendants of three dynasties to find out how well work and family really mix…
Blogs! Money! Power!
Aug 7, 2019 • 26 min
Social media hasn’t killed off the food blog apparently. Emily Thomas meets three food writers from three continents, who reveal their power and influence over what and how we eat. How much money do they make and how does social media fit with their…
Food under siege
Jul 31, 2019 • 26 min
If access to a city is blocked food supplies can quickly plummet, electricity and water can become scarce, and people can be forced to find new ways to feed themselves. Black markets thrive and some may risk their lives to feed their families, but…
Baristas: The daily grind
Jul 24, 2019 • 26 min
What is the person making your coffee secretly thinking about you? Which orders make their heart sink? Emily Thomas is joined by three top baristas in Dublin, Brazil and India. They explain how making coffee was once seen as a low-wage, unskilled job in…
Angela Hartnett: My life in five dishes
Jul 17, 2019 • 26 min
Angela Hartnett is one of the UK’s most high profile chefs. She tells Emily Thomas about her life through five memorable dishes, from learning to cook with her Italian grandmother, to being awarded a Michelin star just four months after opening her first…
The pig plague
Jul 10, 2019 • 26 min
A deadly and highly contagious disease is sweeping across Asia, killing millions of pigs and destroying the livelihoods of millions of farming families. African Swine Fever is not harmful to humans, but it kills infected pigs in just a few days and there…
When is a burger not a burger?
Jul 3, 2019 • 26 min
Vegetarian and vegan food companies are under attack for using words like ‘burger’, ‘sausage’, or ‘steak’ to describe their meat-free products. The meat industry and some politicians argue such words can only be used to describe foods that came from an…
The quest for black gold
Jun 26, 2019 • 26 min
How powerful can a steaming pile of rotting food be? One third of the world’s food is lost or wasted, greenhouse emissions are warming our planet, and about a third of the world’s soil is degraded. Composting our food waste can help with all of this. But…
How not to run a restaurant
Jun 19, 2019 • 30 min
It’s a dream shared by many a food lover - a restaurant of their very own. A showcase for their skill and creativity. A passion that also pays the bills. But are aspiring restaurateurs always aware of just how difficult the restaurant trade can be? Is…
Lunches changing lives
Jun 12, 2019 • 26 min
Millions of children in India risk being deprived of a good education because of hunger. Poverty means they often go to school on an empty stomach, making it hard for them to concentrate, and malnutrition can mean they don’t even make it to the classroom…
Finding a food champion: The finalists
Jun 5, 2019 • 26 min
The world faces a daunting challenge - how to feed a growing population without harming the planet, our economies, or our health. With a billion people still going hungry, obesity and diabetes on the rise, and warnings of a climate change emergency, how…
Samin Nosrat: My life in five dishes
May 29, 2019 • 26 min
The award-winning star of Netflix series ‘Salt, Fat, Acid Heat’ and author of the best-selling cookbook of the same name tells us about her life through five of her most memorable dishes. The Iranian-American writer and cook has enjoyed a meteoric rise to…
Bitter sweets
May 22, 2019 • 26 min
Could candy be the next target in the global fight against rising levels of obesity and diabetes? Dozens of governments have already imposed taxes on sugary drinks, and now some are considering doing the same with sweets. So how worried are confectionery…
Food on the streets: London and Los Angeles
May 15, 2019 • 26 min
How do you eat when you have no home? Nowhere to store food, nowhere to cook, no table to eat at? In this episode we are with homeless people in two of the world’s most prosperous cities - London and Los Angeles - to talk about how they feed themselves.…
Organic Inc
May 8, 2019 • 26 min
At heart, the organic movement is driven by ethics, not market-forces. It started out as a reaction to large-scale industrial agriculture, with an anti-establishment vibe which abhorred mass produced, processed food. But, as demand for organic products…
Widowed: Food after loss
May 1, 2019 • 26 min
In the second of two James Beard Award-winning episodes on food and grief, Emily Thomas explores the food experiences of the widowed. In parts of the world where widowhood is seen as a source of shame, widows might be excluded from mealtimes, forbidden…
Raw grief
Apr 24, 2019 • 26 min
Emily Thomas explores how food can help us navigate through the darkest of times - the days, weeks, and even years following the death of someone we loved. In times of loss, should we use food to remember the dead or to reconnect with them? A neurologist…
The pot washers
Apr 17, 2019 • 26 min
Do you know who’s washing your dishes? Emily Thomas talks to pot washers from around the world, about what they love and loathe about life at the sink. A kitchen can’t survive without the pot washer, yet we rarely give them a second thought, lavishing all…
An inspector calls
Apr 10, 2019 • 26 min
Restaurateurs with guns, chefs wielding knives, and severed heads in bin bags. Life as a food inspector is a lot more fraught than you might think. Emily Thomas meets three food safety officers from around the globe who reveal what it’s like to be one of…
How to tell a food story
Apr 3, 2019 • 44 min
What happens when food meets fiction? In this programme from the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, presenter Emily Thomas is joined by a panel of guests and an audience to find out how poems, plays and novels can help us better understand our food, and…
Gut feelings
Mar 28, 2019 • 26 min
There are trillions of bacteria living in our guts and there’s growing evidence that they can have a major impact on our mental well-being. So could we soon see a food supplement that can treat depression? The science behind this so-called gut-brain axis…
When breast isn’t best
Mar 21, 2019 • 26 min
Breastfeeding is highly recommended for babies the world over and in many countries it’s seen as a mother’s duty. No wonder, then, that women who cannot or choose not to breastfeed can feel ashamed, inadequate, or even irresponsible. But it turns out that…
How to feed the Falklands
Mar 14, 2019 • 26 min
How does a tiny community living on a series of rugged, windswept islands in the south west Atlantic Ocean manage to eat a varied diet? The Falkland Islands have more sheep than people, and its waters are teaming with squid, but fresh fruit and vegetables…
When foods get famous
Feb 27, 2019 • 26 min
Why do some fruits and vegetables achieve superstar status, appearing on T-shirts worn by celebrities, or in tattoos adorning some of the biggest names in music? Who is behind the rise of avocados and kale, and who benefits most from their A-list status -…
A senseless generation?
Feb 20, 2019 • 26 min
Are processed foods and urbanisation numbing children’s sensory abilities, and should we teach them to smell, touch, taste and even listen to their food to improve their diets and self-awareness? Emily Thomas meets three people from different parts of the…
Untold food stories: Rohingya and Uighur cuisine
Feb 13, 2019 • 26 min
The Rohingya people in Myanmar and the Uighur people in China are familiar to many of us through news reports. And usually their story is told by journalists in sombre voices reporting on the political situation or alleged human rights abuses. But in this…
High Stakes Cakes
Feb 6, 2019 • 26 min
What drives people to stake their livelihood on sponge? Three cake makers discuss the pressure and privilege of creating show-stopping centrepieces for major celebrations. From a perfect replica of a cow to a cake hanging from the ceiling, they reveal the…
André Cointreau: My life in five dishes
Jan 30, 2019 • 26 min
André Cointreau had a very privileged start in life, born into two illustrious French drinks dynasties - Cointreau and Rémy Martin. But his decision to buy a food business didn’t go down well with the whole family. Unperturbed, he went on to become the…
Uncut: Butchers Talk Chop
Jan 23, 2019 • 27 min
Carving up carcasses and slicing up flesh. Day in, day out. Doling out blood for pet leeches, and helpings of animals brains. What drives people to do it? And why do they see themselves as animal lovers, and therapists? Emily Thomas meets three butchers…
Is Product Placement Getting in Your Face?
Jan 16, 2019 • 26 min
When a cool character cracks open a can of a well-known branded drink on screen, do you barely notice or roll your eyes? Whatever your reaction, their choices may well be influencing yours. Food is a powerful narrative device in film and product placement…
The New Food Bank Frontline
Jan 9, 2019 • 27 min
Giving away unwanted food to people who need it, sounds like it should be easy. But in this episode we find it throws up some peculiar challenges. What do you do with 12,000 cakes, or vast amounts of unwanted crocodile meat? Over the past few years food…
After Party: A Look Back
Dec 26, 2018 • 26 min
Find out what happens after the show ends. Emily Thomas catches up with some people who’ve appeared on The Food Chain over the past 12 months and hears about the unexpected things that can happen after you step off our stage. Propping up the bar with her…
Taking the Buzz out of Coffee
Dec 12, 2018 • 26 min
A former-coffee lover goes on the hunt for a decent cup without the buzz, and discovers why it’s so hard to get flavour without a fix. Emily Thomas delves into the complex art of caffeine extraction and discovers that taste is not the only challenge when…
Can a Strong Drink Revive a City?
Dec 5, 2018 • 27 min
Does bourbon have the strength to reinvigorate a whole city? And is it really wise to seek answers at the bottom of a barrel? Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon and its history is richly steeped in the drink. But now its largest city,…
Why the Heat about Meat?
Nov 28, 2018 • 26 min
Why do we get so angry when we talk about food? When conversation turns to meat in particular, it doesn’t take long for debate to become heated and emotive. Voices get louder. Insults are hurled. Death threats are issued. Earlier this month, a group of UK…
Million Dollar Mouths
Nov 21, 2018 • 26 min
Who gets to decide what our food tastes like - and what gives them the authority to do so? Emily Thomas meets three people who are employed by the food industry to choose how processed food should taste. One of them has had his tongue insured for over one…
Inside the Abattoir
Nov 14, 2018 • 26 min
This episode includes audio of the slaughter of farm animals, which some may find upsetting. But if you happily eat meat, should you be willing to listen along as cows become beef? Would you be happy to witness it? And what might change if you did? Emily…
Behind the (Food) Scenes
Nov 7, 2018 • 26 min
Three top food stylists - all of whom have ghost-written and cooked on behalf of the world’s top chefs - step out from behind the scenes. More often than not, when it comes to food in the media, a lot of what you are seeing, and reading is the work - not…
I Took on the Food Industry
Oct 31, 2018 • 26 min
A powerful colossus is controlling most of what we eat. Who has the guts to take it on? Emily Thomas meets three people who have gone up against the food industry. From following trucks across Thailand to expose slavery in the fishing industry, to going…
I’m with the chef
Oct 24, 2018 • 26 min
If you think you’d like your other half to be able to cook like a Michelin-starred chef, this episode might make you think again. When a professional cook is at the top of their game, there might just be someone at home, picking up the pieces of a brutal…
Aristocrats and Archaeo-Food Nerds
Oct 17, 2018 • 26 min
Have you ever felt the urge to share exactly the same culinary experience as your ancestors? Do you care what ancient Roman bread tasted like? Or what a 16th Century courtier smelt as he lifted a slice of roast beef to his mouth? Would you understand…
Not Just a Rich White Woman’s Problem
Oct 10, 2018 • 26 min
Emily Thomas explores a stereotype with potentially life-threatening consequences - the idea that eating disorders are a problem that only affects white women in wealthy countries. She talks to black women in South Africa, Nigeria and the US who have had…
Unseen: The Rise of Eating Disorders in China
Oct 3, 2018 • 26 min
From diet pills to vomit rooms, the Food Chain investigates the rise of eating disorders in China. Is this an inevitable consequence of economic development? And if so, why are eating disorders still all too often seen as a rich white woman’s problem?’ In…
Restaurant Critics: The Ungarnished Truth
Sep 26, 2018 • 26 min
Emily Thomas brings together a straight-talking crowd who are not afraid to ruffle a few feathers - even when they belong to the world’s most successful restaurateurs and chefs. Three restaurant critics from across the globe don’t hold back as they swap…
Going Off Cow’s Milk?
Sep 19, 2018 • 26 min
Emily Thomas asks whether we’re on a slow but steady path to abandoning our pervasive, long-standing, and arguably slightly peculiar habit of drinking milk from cows. In many European countries and the US, alternative plant-based milks are growing in…
Widowed: Food After Loss
Sep 12, 2018 • 26 min
In the second of two episodes on food and grief, Emily Thomas explores the food experiences of the widowed. In parts of the world where widowhood is seen as a source of shame, widows might be excluded from mealtimes, forbidden from eating nourishing food,…
Raw grief
Sep 5, 2018 • 26 min
In the first of two episodes on food and grief, Emily Thomas explores how food can help us navigate through the darkest of times - the days, weeks, and even years following the death of someone we loved. In times of loss, should we use food to remember…
Rethinking the Celebrity Chef
Aug 29, 2018 • 26 min
Emily Thomas asks whether the curious phenomenon of the celebrity chef, is undergoing a metamorphosis. The modern celebrity chef has their finger in a lot of pies - multiple restaurant chains, merchandise, cookery books, TV programmes, even campaigning…
The Invisible Ingredient
Aug 22, 2018 • 26 min
We’re killing time on The Food Chain this week. From crops that grow in just eight weeks, to whole meals that can sit on the shelf at room temperature for three years, at every stage of our food chain it seems, humans are battling against the clock, in…
José Andrés: My Life in Five Dishes
Aug 15, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Kelis: My Life in Five Dishes
Aug 8, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Claudia Roden: My Life in 5 Dishes
Aug 1, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Gordon Ramsay: My Life in Five Dishes
Jul 25, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Antonio Carluccio: My Life in Five Dishes
Jul 18, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Madhur Jaffrey: My Life in Five Dishes
Jul 11, 2018 • 26 min
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.…
Jeremiah Tower: My Life in Five Dishes
Jul 4, 2018 • 26 min
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…
#MeToo Food
Jun 27, 2018 • 26 min
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…
The Real Junk Food
Jun 20, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Pony Tales
Jun 6, 2018 • 27 min
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…
I am the Bread Man
May 30, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Kelis: My Life in Five Dishes
May 23, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Critical Mass Catering
May 16, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Absolute Food: Part II
May 9, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Absolute Food: Part I
May 2, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Fussy Old World
Apr 25, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Claudia Roden: My Life in Five Dishes
Apr 20, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Food Confidential
Apr 11, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Eating Blockchain
Apr 4, 2018 • 27 min
*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…
A Poisonous Business
Mar 29, 2018 • 26 min
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.…
Do Not Feed the Animals
Mar 22, 2018 • 27 min
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…
This Food Will Save Your Life*
Mar 7, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Eat, Stay, Love
Feb 28, 2018 • 26 min
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…
The New Animals
Feb 14, 2018 • 26 min
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…
The Pig Problem
Feb 7, 2018 • 26 min
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…
The Food Pilgrims
Jan 31, 2018 • 26 min
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…
I Can’t Taste!
Jan 24, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Gordon Ramsay: My Life in Five Dishes
Jan 17, 2018 • 26 min
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…
In Search of Wine’s ‘Holy Grail’
Jan 10, 2018 • 27 min
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…
The Comedy of Food
Jan 3, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Big Tech Wants Your Food Shop
Dec 27, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Food Chain: The Quiz 2017
Dec 20, 2017 • 26 min
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…
How to Make a Farmer
Dec 13, 2017 • 26 min
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…
I Won’t Farm!
Dec 6, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Where’s my African Takeaway?
Nov 29, 2017 • 27 min
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…
The ‘Disneyland’ of Food?
Nov 22, 2017 • 26 min
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…
The Boundless Ambition of Gum
Nov 8, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Contain Yourself!
Nov 2, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Competitive Eating: Chewing it Over
Oct 18, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Competitive Eating: The ‘Gurgitators’
Oct 11, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Madhur Jaffrey: My Life in Five Dishes
Oct 4, 2017 • 26 min
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.…
A Fly Future?
Sep 27, 2017 • 27 min
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…
The Maggot Masters
Sep 20, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Cow Candy
Sep 13, 2017 • 27 min
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,…
Finding a Food Champion
Sep 6, 2017 • 27 min
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…
The Art of Fermentation
Aug 30, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Upper Crust?
Aug 23, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Is Social Media Putting You Off Your Lunch?
Aug 16, 2017 • 28 min
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.…
Stockpiles? What Stockpiles?
Aug 9, 2017 • 27 min
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…
What Will You Eat if the Apocalypse Comes?
Aug 2, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Have We Cracked the Nut Problem?
Jul 26, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Health lessons with the Hadza
Jul 19, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Hunting with the Hadza
Jul 12, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Fortification: Too Much of a Good thing?
Jul 5, 2017 • 26 min
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 –…
The Unlikely Power of Cookbooks
Jun 29, 2017 • 26 min
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.…
Food Secrets of Centenarians
Jun 21, 2017 • 27 min
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…
What Time is Dinner?
Jun 14, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Much Ado About Michelin
Jun 7, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Talking Rot
May 31, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Hands Off My Food!
May 24, 2017 • 27 min
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…
The Real Value of a Cup of Tea
May 22, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Foodunnit?
May 10, 2017 • 26 min
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…
I Don’t Cook
May 3, 2017 • 26 min
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…
The Fish Japan Ate
Apr 26, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Liberte, Egalite, Gastronomie?
Apr 19, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Little Kitchen of Horrors
Apr 12, 2017 • 27 min
** 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,…
Orthorexia Nervosa: When ‘Healthy’ Food Becomes Harmful
Apr 5, 2017 • 26 min
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.…
Hey, Hey We’re The Food Chain
Mar 29, 2017 • 27 min
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…
One Potato More
Mar 25, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Poor Old Potato
Mar 18, 2017 • 26 min
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,…
The Food We Breathe
Mar 11, 2017 • 26 min
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…
McAsia?
Mar 3, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Post-Truth Food
Feb 25, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Wheelchair Fajitas and Talking Scales
Feb 18, 2017 • 26 min
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…
The Plankton Problem
Feb 11, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Got Gumbo?
Feb 4, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Should You Drink Your Food?
Jan 21, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Of Maize and Men: Unpicked
Jan 14, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Of Maize and Men: The Rise
Jan 7, 2017 • 26 min
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…
Food Chain: The Quiz
Dec 31, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Food Chain: The Musical
Dec 24, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Survival Stories: ‘We Ate Spiders, Flies and Worms’
Dec 17, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Hunger in the Rich World
Dec 10, 2016 • 26 min
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…
The Hidden Cost of a Home-Cooked Meal
Dec 3, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Full English Brexit
Nov 26, 2016 • 26 min
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,…
Burnt
Nov 19, 2016 • 26 min
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…
In Search of Lost Foods
Nov 12, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Plate of the Union
Nov 5, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Dining with the Dead
Oct 29, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Vegan Babies: Should You Restrict Your Child’s Diet?
Oct 22, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Should We All Be Vegans?
Oct 15, 2016 • 26 min
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,…
Stories from Syria
Oct 8, 2016 • 26 min
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…
The Olympics of Chinese Food
Oct 1, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Pestatarians
Sep 24, 2016 • 26 min
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 New Sushi
Sep 17, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Food on the Open Road
Sep 10, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Big Beer
Sep 2, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Naturally Misleading?
Aug 27, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Survival Stories: Fish bacon for breakfast
Aug 20, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Survival Stories: Lost in the Desert
Aug 13, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Fertile Food
Aug 6, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Food on the Move: What We Want, When We Want It
Jul 30, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Inside the Kitchens of Power
Jul 26, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Beauty from Within?
Jul 16, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Can Cheese Help Save an Economy?
Jul 9, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Plough Your Own Furrow?
Jul 2, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Mind your Manners
Jun 25, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Seeds, Syrup and Subversion
Jun 18, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Faster Food
Jun 11, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Extreme Farming
Jun 4, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Is Junk Food the New Smoking?
May 28, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Fish Fight
May 21, 2016 • 26 min
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…
A Dog’s Dinner?
May 14, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Disaster Food: Feeding a Country in Crisis
May 7, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Bottled Water: Do We Really Need It?
Apr 30, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Eating With Our Ears: The Sound of Food
Apr 23, 2016 • 26 min
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,…
Animals on Antibiotics: Could Pigs on Pills Make us Ill?
Apr 16, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Food Chain Late Night
Apr 9, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Front of House
Apr 2, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Food and Nostalgia
Mar 26, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Is Convenience Killing Us?
Mar 19, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Food Waste: How Low Can it Go?
Mar 12, 2016 • 26 min
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…
No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?
Mar 5, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Food, Power and Punishment
Feb 27, 2016 • 26 min
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…
The Truth About Diabetes
Feb 6, 2016 • 26 min
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…
Down with ‘Foodies’?
Dec 12, 2015 • 26 min
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-…
Breast Practice
Nov 28, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Chinatown
Nov 21, 2015 • 26 min
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.…
Back of House
Nov 14, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Food Far From Home
Oct 31, 2015 • 30 min
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…
Food of War
Sep 12, 2015 • 26 min
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…
India: How to Feed a Nation
Sep 5, 2015 • 26 min
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…
India: Faith, Food, and Politics
Aug 29, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Food of Love
Aug 15, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Chicken: Too Much of a Good Thing?
Aug 14, 2015 • 26 min
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…
How to (Not) Grow Your Food Business
Jun 20, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Sexual Politics in the Kitchen
Jun 13, 2015 • 26 min
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…
The End of Eating Wild Fish?
Jun 6, 2015 • 26 min
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…
How Do We Know What’s Good For Us?
May 30, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Spice and Status
May 23, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Coffee: Globalisation’s Drink of Choice
May 16, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Fighting Food Crime
Mar 27, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Picky Eaters
Mar 20, 2015 • 26 min
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,…
Eating For Two?
Mar 13, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Farm and Fortune?
Mar 6, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Should the Government Pay for our Food?
Feb 27, 2015 • 26 min
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,…
Tech at the Table
Feb 20, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Eat my words!
Feb 13, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Dinner for One
Feb 9, 2015 • 26 min
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…
The Cold Chain
Jan 30, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Variety Pack
Jan 9, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Sugar: A Love-Hate Relationship
Jan 2, 2015 • 26 min
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…
Feast
Dec 26, 2014 • 26 min
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…
Food Technophobes v Technophiles
Dec 5, 2014 • 26 min
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…
Whose Food is it Anyway?
Nov 28, 2014 • 26 min
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…
Food and the Fall of the Berlin Wall
Nov 14, 2014 • 26 min
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…
Why Do We Waste So Much Food?
Nov 7, 2014 • 26 min
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…
Super Foods or Super Fads?
Oct 31, 2014 • 26 min
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…