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(116)

Rank #61 in Food category

Arts
Food

The Food Chain

Updated 3 days ago

Rank #61 in Food category

Arts
Food
Read more

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

Read more

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

iTunes Ratings

116 Ratings
Average Ratings
91
15
3
7
0

Interesting & Informative

By SusanCooks - Jul 06 2018
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This podcast is the only food-related show that focuses on the business, technology, and culture of food. This unique perspective has been very enlightening. I want to know where my food comes from and how it is processed and this show has answered many of those questions and more. I also appreciate the cultural significance of food that is discussed on this show. Give it a listen!

I would love to give this podcast 5 stars...but

By BuffaloNic - May 04 2018
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Superb podcast as far as content, reporting, attitude, and topics. Why did I take one star away? Because the music can be intrusive and jarring at times. I will keep listening, but I find this in many "over-produced" podcasts: the music is too noticeable. It's not the main feature of the podcast; nor, is it what people are generally coming to the podcast to hear. I believe most uf us are there for the content and intellectual fodder.

iTunes Ratings

116 Ratings
Average Ratings
91
15
3
7
0

Interesting & Informative

By SusanCooks - Jul 06 2018
Read more
This podcast is the only food-related show that focuses on the business, technology, and culture of food. This unique perspective has been very enlightening. I want to know where my food comes from and how it is processed and this show has answered many of those questions and more. I also appreciate the cultural significance of food that is discussed on this show. Give it a listen!

I would love to give this podcast 5 stars...but

By BuffaloNic - May 04 2018
Read more
Superb podcast as far as content, reporting, attitude, and topics. Why did I take one star away? Because the music can be intrusive and jarring at times. I will keep listening, but I find this in many "over-produced" podcasts: the music is too noticeable. It's not the main feature of the podcast; nor, is it what people are generally coming to the podcast to hear. I believe most uf us are there for the content and intellectual fodder.

Listen to:

Cover image of The Food Chain

The Food Chain

Updated 3 days ago

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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.

Unseen: The Rise of Eating Disorders in China

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

Oct 04 2018

26mins

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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

26mins

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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

26mins

Play

Gordon Ramsay: My Life in Five Dishes

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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

26mins

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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

26mins

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How to date a vegan

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How can you have a successful relationship with someone whose eating habits you find repulsive, infuriating, even morally abhorrent? What do you do when your wife and mother are locked in a fierce battle over what you eat, when your long term partner insists on eating sandwiches in bed, or when you’re in love with a vegan but like nothing better than a chicken teriyaki?

As part of Crossing Divides, a BBC season bringing people together in a fragmented world, Emily Thomas meets three couples who are strongly divided when it comes to their food preferences, and asks them to divulge how they handle it.

As economies develop and our eating habits become ever more individualised and with ever more choice, is food becoming the ultimate passion killer?
And are arguments about food ever really just about food, or do they signify a deeper incompatibility?

Plus, do couples that eat together stay together? And does it matter whether they are sharing the same dish?

(Image: A woman and a man disagree about meat Image credit: Getty Images)

Oct 10 2019

26mins

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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

26mins

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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

26mins

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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

26mins

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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

26mins

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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

26mins

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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

26mins

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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

26mins

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Food Confidential

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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

27mins

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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

26mins

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Fussy Old World

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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

26mins

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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

26mins

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When foods get famous

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Why do some fruits and vegetables achieve superstar status, appearing on T-shirts worn by celebrities, or in tattoos adorning some of the biggest names in music? Who is behind the rise of avocados and kale, and who benefits most from their A-list status - savvy farmers, slick marketeers or health campaigners?

Emily Thomas explores whether fruit and vegetables should play the fame game: Is putting a single food on a pedestal good for consumers, producers, or the planet? Jess Loyer, from the University of Adelaide, and Lauren Westmore, from London PR firm Third City explain the potential pitfalls. Xavier Equihua, CEO of the World Avocado Organization explains how he promotes the fruit across the globe. And a small-town T-shirt maker, Bo Muller-Moore, reveals how he may have contributed to the rise and rise of kale.

Plus, why is it so much easier to create a buzz around one vegetable than an entire food group? Anna Taylor from UK healthy eating think-tank The Food Foundation, describes her uphill battle against public attitudes and the enormous advertising budgets of Big Food.

(Photo: Avocado being photographed. Credit: BBC)

Feb 28 2019

26mins

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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

26mins

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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

26mins

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Marcus Samuelsson: My life in five dishes

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Award-winning chef, restaurateur and writer Marcus Samuelsson describes his extraordinary culinary and personal journey from one of the world's poorest countries to Sweden and then to Harlem, New York.

His life in five dishes takes us from his birthplace in Ethiopia, where his mother died when he was just a few years old, to his adoption by a couple in Sweden. He tells Emily Thomas how his adopted grandmother taught him about homemade locally-sourced food and installed a work ethic in the kitchen that he’s never lost.

His sense of culinary adventure then took him through some of the top restaurants in Europe and on to the US, where he’s now opened a string of restaurants of his own, cooked President Obama’s first White House state dinner, published many books and become a regular feature on TV cooking programmes. He's also rediscovered the foods of his birthplace and tells us about the emotional moment he met the father he'd long assumed was dead.

Marcus reveals how racism was a career obstacle, but that it also contributed to his success, and explains why his focus has changed from cooking for the one per cent, as he puts it, to a more democratic dining scene.

(Picture: Marcus Samuelsson at Red Rooster Shoreditch. Credit: BBC)

Nov 28 2019

26mins

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Can palm oil be sustainable?

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It’s the world’s most consumed vegetable oil, used for everything from frying food to making it last longer – but can palm oil be produced in a way that doesn't wreak enormous environmental and human damage?

In conjunction with another BBC World Service programme, Crowd Science, we visit the Sabah region of Malaysian Borneo, where different groups are working together to change the way palm oil is produced.

Presenter Graihagh Jackson hears about a certification system aimed at raising standards on smallholders, reducing the industry’s impact on biodiversity, and boosting incomes. And she speaks to an organisation fighting for the rights of indigenous communities against land-hungry palm oil companies.

Plus, what can consumers do to affect change in the industry? We hear how it's sometimes difficult to know whether products contain sustainable palm oil or not.

For more on the steps being taken to lessen palm oil's environmental impact listen to Crowd Science: Should I stop eating palm oil?

(Picture: A man harvesting palm oil. Credit Getty/BBC)

Nov 21 2019

32mins

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Bakers: Earning a crust

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Running a bakery is hard work - you’re up all night mixing, kneading, proving and baking, and then when the sun rises you need to actually sell your bread and run the business.

It’s physically demanding too - repetitive strain injuries to hands are not uncommon.

So who’d be willing to put themselves through it? Emily Thomas meets three artisan bakers from different continents to find out what drives them, and why they think most of us have been eating bread all wrong: Islam Sabry, who runs Cairo's Baker, in Egypt; Lee Utsumi, of Lee's Bread, just outside Tokyo, Japan; and Seth Gabrielse, co-owner of Automne Boulangerie in Montreal, Canada.

Plus, what happens to your waistline when you're surrounded by freshly baked bread and pastries all day?

(Picture: Islam Sabry, Seth Gabrielse and Lee Utsumi. Credit: Cairo's Baker, Automne Boulangerie, Lee's Bread, and BBC).

Nov 14 2019

26mins

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Can you have your plate and eat it?

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The food industry has a big problem with packaging, but what if you could simply eat your wrapper or coffee cup instead of throwing it away?

Could packaging made from food ingredients prevent our oceans and landfill sites from being clogged with waste, much of it plastic? Could it still preserve and protect our food from damage or spoiling? And does it taste any good?

Emily Thomas speaks to two companies developing edible products - one producing plates, cups and bowls, the other making a protective coating for fruit -to find out whether edible packaging is really a clever solution to some serious environmental problems, or just a marketing gimmick.

And a food futurologist explains why we're all likely to see more food-based packaging on our supermarket shelves, and how that could change the way we eat and shop.

(Picture: A woman pretending to eat a plate. Credit: Getty/BBC)

Nov 07 2019

26mins

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How dangerous is your food delivery?

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How dangerous is your takeaway?

If you ever order food through an online delivery service like UberEats, DoorDash, or Deliveroo, you probably think only about the meal that will soon will arrive at your door - will it arrive quickly, and piping hot? You possibly don’t think much about the person delivering it, let alone whether they have put themselves at risk in getting it to you.

These companies allow customers to order food from a range of restaurants, and then provide a delivery service - by assigning jobs to drivers who are usually self-employed.

Across the world, their popularity is soaring. But one hidden aspect of their growth is the dangers faced by their growing legions of delivery drivers, from road accidents, to intimidation, to violence.

The Food Chain has seen dozens of reports from all over the world, and spoken to numerous people who work with these companies, all suggesting that the safety of takeaway delivery drivers, needs closer scrutiny.

Emily Thomas investigates what it is about food delivery in particular that can be so dangerous - and whether enough is being done to keep these drivers safe.
Please note: This programme contains content that some may find disturbing.
(Photo: Food delivery driver. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)

Oct 31 2019

26mins

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Will robot pickers change our fruit?

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Across the world, as fruits ripen, teams of pickers set out across the fields. Without them, produce would be left to rot and farms profits would plummet.

But in many countries, population shifts and changes to immigration laws have left farmers struggling to find enough people to do the work. The effect has been particularly pronounced in the US where President Trump has cracked down on immigration, and the UK with its plans to leave the EU.

Enter the robots. Over the past few years, interest and investment in machines that can pick fruit and vegetables that are usually harvested by humans, have been ramping up.

Emily Thomas asks whether we should welcome these new developments. Picking fruit is low paid, low-skilled and physically demanding work, and exploitation in the industry is well-documented. But it’s also a source of income that many depend on, and the main source of employment in some parts of the world.

Plus, if we do let machines do the job, what are the implications for the environment, and how our food looks and tastes?

(Picture: Man reaches forward to pick an apple from a tree. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)

Oct 17 2019

26mins

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How to date a vegan

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How can you have a successful relationship with someone whose eating habits you find repulsive, infuriating, even morally abhorrent? What do you do when your wife and mother are locked in a fierce battle over what you eat, when your long term partner insists on eating sandwiches in bed, or when you’re in love with a vegan but like nothing better than a chicken teriyaki?

As part of Crossing Divides, a BBC season bringing people together in a fragmented world, Emily Thomas meets three couples who are strongly divided when it comes to their food preferences, and asks them to divulge how they handle it.

As economies develop and our eating habits become ever more individualised and with ever more choice, is food becoming the ultimate passion killer?
And are arguments about food ever really just about food, or do they signify a deeper incompatibility?

Plus, do couples that eat together stay together? And does it matter whether they are sharing the same dish?

(Image: A woman and a man disagree about meat Image credit: Getty Images)

Oct 10 2019

26mins

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How to cook for a megastar

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What do the most famous names in film, sport and politics eat for dinner, and what does it say about who they really are? Three private chefs give us the ultimate insight into the lives of the rich and famous - after all, what's more exposing than what and how we choose to eat?

Emily Thomas hears about the Premiership footballer who wanted to helicopter a chef to his home to make him and his girlfriend oven chips, the politician who had a romantic meal with not one, but three beautiful young women, and the Hollywood star who would only eat what she could squeeze into half of a small plastic cup.

How do you even become a private chef, and how much money can you make? And what happens when the person you are cooking for is not someone you want to pander to - a politician whose policies you can’t abide, or a celebrity whose private behaviour makes you uncomfortable?

Emily speaks to Charlotte Leventis, the London-based founder and executive chef of Extravaganza Food; Kwame Amfor, founder of Biishville, a Ghanaian catering company; and Kathleen Schaffer, the founder and creative director of Schaffer LA. Between them they’ve cooked for A-listers including Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Idris Elba, Eddie Murphy, David Beckham and Kate Beckinsale.

(Picture: Kate Beckinsale, David Beckham and Idris Elba. Credit: Getty/BBC)

Oct 03 2019

26mins

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Down on the farm: Suicide, stress and farmers

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Farming has some of the highest suicide rates of any profession in many parts of the world. Emily Thomas explores why depression and stress amongst farmers is a global problem that is thought to be on the rise.

It can be an incredibly tough business and many farmers struggle to make ends meet. But aside from financial pressures, are there other aspects of agricultural work and life that could contribute to mental illness?

Farmers in Australia explain why social and physical isolation, along with a culture of stoicism and strength, could be contributing to the problem, especially amongst men. And a specialist in farm succession in the US state of Oregon explains why family pressures and the tricky business of inheritance can cause enormous stress, and even lead people to take their own lives. Plus, we hear how social media and criticism of farmers over climate change and animal welfare might be adding to the problem.

But there are solutions - we hear how mindfulness, governments, and even farm animals themselves can be the key to escaping depression.

For advice and support on the issues raised in this programme, and details of help available where you live, visit www.befrienders.org

(Picture: A farmer looking out over his fields. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

Sep 26 2019

27mins

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Ken Hom: My life in five dishes

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Ken Hom is a Chinese-American cook who became famous for introducing Chinese cooking to the British public through a BBC TV series in the early 1980s. Since then he has written almost 40 books, sold around eight million woks, and become regarded as an authority on Chinese cuisine.

Emily Thomas visits the 70-year-old in his Paris flat to hear about his life told through five memorable dishes. He describes his impoverished childhood in Chicago’s Chinatown, from using his mother’s packed lunches to barter for better treatment at school, to working in a kitchen as an 11-year-old – a job that would put him off the restaurant business for life. Ken describes the dishes only served to Americans in a 1960s Chinese restaurant, and re-enacts the nerve wracking screen test at the BBC 40 years ago, that was to change his life. Ken also explains what he thinks matters most in the food world today, why he has always kept his personal life, private, and how his early childhood experiences fed an entrepreneurial streak that would last his entire life.

(Picture: Ken Hom. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)

Sep 19 2019

26mins

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Eating with Etna

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What’s it like to live and farm on one of the world’s most active volcanoes? Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, regularly erupts, blasting lava and ash over the Mediterranean island and causing dozens of earthquakes each year. So why do so many food producers stake their livelihoods on its rocky slopes?

Benjamin Spencer, an American wine expert who has adopted Etna as his home, meets its wine, olive and fruit growers, as well as the chefs whose dishes take inspiration from the fiery mountain. They explain how millennia of lava flows have made the volcano’s soils rich in nutrients and that the volcano is a vital branding tool, but also how some eruptions have almost wiped out entire farms.

Ben discovers that people’s desire to farm there, despite the risks, is part of an almost spiritual connection with the land and the mountain.

(Picture: Mount Etna erupting. Credit: Antonio Parrinello/ReutersS/BBC)

Sep 12 2019

26mins

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Foraging: Pleasure or profit?

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Most of us have no need to hunt in the wild for our food, so why is foraging seeing a resurgence in some parts of the world?

Emily Thomas speaks to professional foragers in Peru, Sweden and England to find out the appeal of combing rocky shores for seaweed or trekking up mountains for rare fruits. Is it the love of a freebie, the thrill of the chase, or simply a sense of wonder at our natural world?

We hear about the rules governing what, where and how much you can harvest from the wild, and that the forager’s freedoms can be extensive.

But as wild finds become increasingly visible on the menus of top restaurants and sometimes end up on our supermarket shelves, could natural habitats become threatened, and does something integral get lost when money changes hands?

Producers: Marijke Peters and Simon Tulett.

(Photo: John Wright picking seaweed. Credit: BBC)

Sep 05 2019

26mins

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Ritual slaughter under threat

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Belgium is the latest European country to put restrictions on religious slaughter methods. For many this is purely an animal welfare issue, but others see the changes as part of an anti-immigration shift pushed by right-wing nationalists. For some, the new laws are an assault on religious freedom.

Emily Thomas visits the country to explore the impact the new laws are having on Muslim and Jewish communities and businesses, and to find out whether ritual slaughter practices are being driven underground.

(Photo: Pair of hands hold a joint of meat. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)

Aug 29 2019

26mins

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The young pub bosses reviving the British boozer

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For decades we’ve been warned about the demise of the British pub, but despite this the number of young people signing up to run them appears to be rising.

Pubs have been the cornerstone of UK communities for centuries, but around a quarter of them have closed in the last decade - taxes, cheap alcohol in supermarkets, and the smoking ban are often blamed.

But that’s not putting off people in their twenties and thirties from taking them on. Emily Thomas is in the pub with three young publicans - Elliott Dickinson, Laura Field, and Liam Holyoak-Rackal, to find out why.

Can they be in it for the money, or is it something else - what exactly is the lure of the traditional British pub? And how do you encourage more young people to drink in them, without losing the customers who’ve been propping up the bar for decades?

(Photo left-to-right: Elliott Dickinson, Liam Holyoak-Rackal and Laura Field. Credit: BBC)

Aug 22 2019

26mins

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Dynasties

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What’s it like to have food in your blood? Would you want to spend all day working with your family, even if it was in a brewery or a chocolate factory? Emily Thomas meets the descendants of three dynasties to find out how well work and family really mix when it comes to the food business.

Kayo Yoshida, the first female president of Japanese sake brewery Umenoyado explains how she broke with tradition when she asked her father if she could inherit the family business instead of her brother.

Bob Unanue, the boss of the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the US – Goya Foods – explains how important family values, and in particular his immigrant heritage, are to his company’s bottom line.

Plus, James Cadbury, of the famous UK chocolate dynasty, explains why he formed his own chocolate company three years ago but dares not put his family name on it.

(Picture: A family portrait with cans replacing heads. Credit: BBC/Getty Images)

Aug 15 2019

26mins

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Blogs! Money! Power!

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Social media hasn’t killed off the food blog apparently.

Emily Thomas meets three food writers from three continents, who reveal their power and influence over what and how we eat. How much money do they make and how does social media fit with their business model? Have they disrupted the publishing industry and democratised food writing, or lowered standards - opening it up to any old amateur with a laptop? What’s a popular Instagram account worth, and does anyone really have the time for long posts these days?

David Lebovitz, a Californian pastry chef and writer based in Paris is joined by Dunni Obata, a Nigerian food blogger in London, and Monika Manchanda, in Bangalore, India.

(Photo: David Lebovitz and Dunni Obata. Credit: BBC/ David Lebovitz/ Dunni Obata)

Aug 08 2019

26mins

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Food under siege

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If access to a city is blocked food supplies can quickly plummet, electricity and water can become scarce, and people can be forced to find new ways to feed themselves. Black markets thrive and some may risk their lives to feed their families, but creativity and compassion may also flourish and a food shortage can inspire ever greater heights of inventiveness.

Emily Thomas meets people who have lived under siege in Aleppo, Syria, and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. A journalist reveals how it feels to feast in a cafe in the middle of a city where most are struggling to eat, and an electrician explains why feeding cats in the middle of a war-zone felt like a message of compassion and resistance.

We also hear about the Palestinians living under the blockade of the Gaza strip. A cook explains how to run a catering company when electricity, water and some ingredients are scarce.

This programme was originally broadcast on August 1 but has since been re-edited to provide more context about the Gaza blockade and to distinguish this more clearly from conditions in Aleppo and Sarajevo.

(Photo: A group of men share a meal on the street in war-torn Syria. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)

Aug 01 2019

26mins

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Baristas: The daily grind

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What is the person making your coffee secretly thinking about you? Which orders make their heart sink?

Emily Thomas is joined by three top baristas in Dublin, Brazil and India. They explain how making coffee was once seen as a low-wage, unskilled job in much of the world, but these days, it holds a certain cache. But what's driving the meteoric rise of the barista - and who ultimately is benefitting? Most still earn a very low wage - like many of the farmers producing the coffee - whilst big chains thrive.

(Photo: Barista Daniel Horbat makes a cup of coffee. Credit: Kristaps Selga/ World Coffee Events/ BBC)

Jul 25 2019

26mins

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Angela Hartnett: My life in five dishes

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

(Photo: Angela Hartnett. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)

Jul 18 2019

26mins

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The pig plague

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A deadly and highly contagious disease is sweeping across Asia, killing millions of pigs and destroying the livelihoods of millions of farming families.

African Swine Fever is not harmful to humans, but it kills infected pigs in just a few days and there is no known cure. The virus has taken hold in the world’s most densely populated pig farming region, spreading from China – home to half of the world’s pigs – to Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia, Laos and North Korea in the last year.

So can it be stopped, and if so how? Gareth Barlow speaks to three people on the front line of the fight against the disease - the woman tasked by the United Nations to eradicate it, a major food business in Thailand trying to keep it at bay, and the man who eliminated the disease from Spain more than 20 years ago.

We ask whether African Swine Fever could mean the end of small-scale pig farming in Asia, and find out how it could forever change food cultures and cuisines in a region so dominated by pork.

(Picture: Health officials spraying disinfectant on a dead pig at a farm in Hanoi, Vietnam. Credit: Manan Vatsayana/AFP/Getty Images)

Jul 11 2019

26mins

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