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The Food Chain

BBC World Service

182
Followers
168
Plays
The Food Chain
The Food Chain

The Food Chain

BBC World Service

182
Followers
168
Plays
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About Us

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

Latest Episodes

Will robot pickers change our fruit?

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

26 MIN4 d ago
Comments
Will robot pickers change our fruit?

How to date a vegan

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

26 MIN1 w ago
Comments
How to date a vegan

How to cook for a megastar

What do the most famous names in film, sport and politics eat for dinner, and what does it say about who they really are? Three private chefs give us the ultimate insight into the lives of the rich and famous - after all, what's more exposing than what and how we choose to eat? Emily Thomas hears about the Premiership footballer who wanted to helicopter a chef to his home to make him and his girlfriend oven chips, the politician who had a romantic meal with not one, but three beautiful young women, and the Hollywood star who would only eat what she could squeeze into half of a small plastic cup. How do you even become a private chef, and how much money can you make? And what happens when the person you are cooking for is not someone you want to pander to - a politician whose policies you can’t abide, or a celebrity whose private behaviour makes you uncomfortable? Emily speaks to Charlotte Leventis, the London-based founder and executive chef of Extravaganza Food; Kwame Amfor, found...

26 MIN2 w ago
Comments
How to cook for a megastar

Down on the farm: Suicide, stress and farmers

Farming has some of the highest suicide rates of any profession in many parts of the world. Emily Thomas explores why depression and stress amongst farmers is a global problem that is thought to be on the rise. It can be an incredibly tough business and many farmers struggle to make ends meet. But aside from financial pressures, are there other aspects of agricultural work and life that could contribute to mental illness? Farmers in Australia explain why social and physical isolation, along with a culture of stoicism and strength, could be contributing to the problem, especially amongst men. And a specialist in farm succession in the US state of Oregon explains why family pressures and the tricky business of inheritance can cause enormous stress, and even lead people to take their own lives. Plus, we hear how social media and criticism of farmers over climate change and animal welfare might be adding to the problem. But there are solutions - we hear how mindfulness, governments, and...

26 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Down on the farm: Suicide, stress and farmers

Ken Hom: My life in five dishes

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

26 MINSEP 19
Comments
Ken Hom: My life in five dishes

Eating with Etna

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

26 MINSEP 12
Comments
Eating with Etna

Foraging: Pleasure or profit?

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

26 MINSEP 5
Comments
Foraging: Pleasure or profit?

Ritual slaughter under threat

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

26 MINAUG 29
Comments
Ritual slaughter under threat

The young pub bosses reviving the British boozer

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

26 MINAUG 22
Comments
The young pub bosses reviving the British boozer

Dynasties

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

26 MINAUG 15
Comments
Dynasties

Latest Episodes

Will robot pickers change our fruit?

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

26 MIN4 d ago
Comments
Will robot pickers change our fruit?

How to date a vegan

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

26 MIN1 w ago
Comments
How to date a vegan

How to cook for a megastar

What do the most famous names in film, sport and politics eat for dinner, and what does it say about who they really are? Three private chefs give us the ultimate insight into the lives of the rich and famous - after all, what's more exposing than what and how we choose to eat? Emily Thomas hears about the Premiership footballer who wanted to helicopter a chef to his home to make him and his girlfriend oven chips, the politician who had a romantic meal with not one, but three beautiful young women, and the Hollywood star who would only eat what she could squeeze into half of a small plastic cup. How do you even become a private chef, and how much money can you make? And what happens when the person you are cooking for is not someone you want to pander to - a politician whose policies you can’t abide, or a celebrity whose private behaviour makes you uncomfortable? Emily speaks to Charlotte Leventis, the London-based founder and executive chef of Extravaganza Food; Kwame Amfor, found...

26 MIN2 w ago
Comments
How to cook for a megastar

Down on the farm: Suicide, stress and farmers

Farming has some of the highest suicide rates of any profession in many parts of the world. Emily Thomas explores why depression and stress amongst farmers is a global problem that is thought to be on the rise. It can be an incredibly tough business and many farmers struggle to make ends meet. But aside from financial pressures, are there other aspects of agricultural work and life that could contribute to mental illness? Farmers in Australia explain why social and physical isolation, along with a culture of stoicism and strength, could be contributing to the problem, especially amongst men. And a specialist in farm succession in the US state of Oregon explains why family pressures and the tricky business of inheritance can cause enormous stress, and even lead people to take their own lives. Plus, we hear how social media and criticism of farmers over climate change and animal welfare might be adding to the problem. But there are solutions - we hear how mindfulness, governments, and...

26 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Down on the farm: Suicide, stress and farmers

Ken Hom: My life in five dishes

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

26 MINSEP 19
Comments
Ken Hom: My life in five dishes

Eating with Etna

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

26 MINSEP 12
Comments
Eating with Etna

Foraging: Pleasure or profit?

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

26 MINSEP 5
Comments
Foraging: Pleasure or profit?

Ritual slaughter under threat

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

26 MINAUG 29
Comments
Ritual slaughter under threat

The young pub bosses reviving the British boozer

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

26 MINAUG 22
Comments
The young pub bosses reviving the British boozer

Dynasties

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

26 MINAUG 15
Comments
Dynasties