Pony TalesThe Food Chain add
Should we eat more horse meat? In some parts of the world it is a food taboo, while in others people think little of munching an equine burger. Would it be better for our health and that of the planet if we ate more of it?
We’re at a pony auction in the English countryside where some rather hairy creatures are going for a song. Could turning them into sausages and steak be the best way to add value? From there we travel to Paris to find out why the French are losing their taste for horse meat, we find out if it could be more sustainable and healthier than beef, and examine the roots of the world's horse meat taboos.
Presenter: Emily Thomas
This programme first aired in October 2017
(Picture: Exmoor Pony. Credit: Getty Images)
I am the Bread ManThe Food Chain add
Dan Saladino meets the mastermind behind one of biggest bread research projects ever undertaken. Nathan Myhrvold spent four years researching, baking and collaborating with leading industry professionals to write Modernist Bread - a five-volume, global exploration of this great staple. It follows another hugely ambitious food project -Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking – from 2011. Perhaps it is no surprise then that Nathan Myhrvold has spent his life trying to understand how things work, he researched quantum theory with the late Stephen Hawking and went on to work directly with Bill Gates at Microsoft. So what pearls of wisdom can the man who baked 36,000 loaves share?
This is a rebroadcast of an episode of the Food Programme that first aired on BBC Radio 4 in March 2018.
(Photo: Man claps hands with flour by dough, Credit: Getty Images)
Kelis: My Life in Five DishesThe Food Chain add
We sit down with one of R&B’s most eccentric and compelling artists - singer-songwriter Kelis. Over the past 20 years she has produced era-defining hits like Milkshake, Caught Out There and Trick Me, and sold millions of records. So why did she decide to step away from the mic and into the chefs' whites at the Cordon Bleu academy? Kelis tells Emily Thomas all about her passion for food and her latest plans to open a farm-to-table restaurant. We hear how she has struggled to make the culinary world take her seriously and why she thinks it’s ‘all about the sauce’.
(Photo: Kelis in the bath tub, Credit: David Loftus, My Life On A Plate)
Critical Mass CateringThe Food Chain add
In a nod to the British royal wedding, we are super-sizing the Food Chain this week as we explore cooking on a grand scale.
Emily Thomas visits a Sikh temple to see how volunteers serve up to a thousand free meals per day without even breaking a sweat. A professional caterer breaks down the economics of mass catering for us. Plus, a foodie chemist gives us his take on mass cooking on a molecular level.
And we may or may not be speaking to the man in charge of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding menu.
(Picture: Quirky and colourful tiered cake Credit: Getty Images)
Absolute Food: Part IIThe Food Chain add
Food is propaganda in this episode of The Food Chain.
In the second part of our two week exploration into the relationship between political power and what we eat, we’re asking how food can be used by authoritarian regimes and extremist groups to influence and persuade.
A food writer will take us on an officially-approved tour of North Korea. And Emily Thomas meets a man who spent ten days living - and eating with fighters from the Islamic State group.
(Photo: Hand reaching out a megaphone. Credit: Getty Images).
Absolute Food: Part IThe Food Chain add
How do authoritarian regimes use food to control and manipulate? In the first of two episodes exploring food and power, we find out how changes to the global economy mean food policy under dictatorships could soon look quite different. Plus, how do you write about food when there isn't any? Emily Thomas talks to a Venezuelan food writer who says her country's food story speaks volumes about the political situation, and explains why she continues to blog about restaurants, despite hunger being rife. In a country where people are afraid to say what they think, we hear why food writing can mean freedom.
(Picture: Red hand pointing upwards with clenched fists, Credit: Getty Images)
Fussy Old WorldThe Food Chain add
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)
Claudia Roden: My Life in Five DishesThe Food Chain add
We meet the woman who’s been credited with revolutionising western attitudes to Middle Eastern and Jewish food.
Claudia Roden talks to Emily Thomas about her life through five dishes, from a comfortable childhood in Cairo to exile in 1950s Britain. She explains how a longing for home led her to painstakingly collect recipes from across the Middle East, and how she turned them into classic cookbooks that have inspired generations of chefs. Plus, we hear Claudia's unique perspective on today's culinary scene and a top tip on how to get honey off a spoon.
(Photo: Claudia Roden standing in front of one of her paintings. Credit: BBC)
Food ConfidentialThe Food Chain add
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)
Eating BlockchainThe Food Chain add
*This is a repeat of a programme that first aired on 22nd February 2018
Blockchain technology has been heralded as the answer to a safer, fairer and more transparent food system. Many companies, from global food giants to start-ups, have begun to experiment with it. But can blockchain really disrupt the global food industry or is it just a gimmick? Emily Thomas meets some pioneers of this new technology, who explain why they think it will change the way we eat.
(Picture: Light from broken egg, Credit: Getty Images)
A Poisonous BusinessThe Food Chain add
Food poisoning meets economics in this episode of the Food Chain. And it's a toxic mix.
We'll explore how an outbreak can bring down a company, badly damage an industry and shine a light on social and economic inequalities and our globalising food system. Emily Thomas talks to a top food poisoning lawyer in the US, who has won more than $600 million for clients in foodborne-illness cases. And a former banker explains why a dodgy sandwich inspired him to quit his day job for the cause. Plus, how do you prove where you got food poisoning from and what can you do to avoid it?
(Picture: Skull and coins, Credit: Getty Images)
Do Not Feed the AnimalsThe Food Chain add
Food waste can have a huge impact on some wild animals, changing their diets and behaviours, and often bringing them into closer contact with humans. From sea birds to grizzly bears, we hear how this can create serious ecological imbalances, and often lead to conflict.
Plus, we find out that our efforts to reduce food waste could have unintended, even devastating consequences, for both animals and people. But it’s not all bad news - we hear the remarkable story of what happens when our scraps sustain one of the fiercest predators on earth.
Presenter: Simon Tulett
(Photo: A brown bear. Credit: Getty Images)
This Food Will Save Your Life*The Food Chain add
Why are humans so vulnerable to big promises about food? Emily Thomas meets some people who became convinced salvation lay in what they ate, and a neurologist who explains why food can make us lose our powers of critical thinking. Plus, the story of a woman who fooled hundreds of thousands of people - as well as vast corporations - into believing she’d cured brain cancer with her diet.
*This is not a programme about a food that will save your life.
(Picture: Black pot. Credit: Getty Images)
Eat, Stay, LoveThe Food Chain add
Three women who fled the countries they were born in because of war or conflict tell us how food helped them rebuild their lives, explore family secrets, and reconnect with their cultures.
Their experiences are very different, but they all share a yearning to regain what they have lost through food. Emily Thomas talks to Razan Alsous, a Syrian refugee who has built a successful cheese business in the north of England; Cambodian-American Nite Yun who has used her cooking business to understand the family history that her parents never spoke of; and Mandana Moghaddam who runs Persian cooking lessons in London, having fled Iran with her family after the revolution.
(Photo: Barbed wire heart. Credit: Getty Images)
The New AnimalsThe Food Chain add
The world’s first genetically engineered animal for human consumption landed on Canadian dinner tables last year. Its arrival did not go by without controversy. Emily Thomas meets the company who created the fast-growing salmon and asks why it took the best part of thirty years for it to make its slow swim from laboratory to plate.
Plus, we gauge reaction from consumers and scientists and get to the heart of an emotive and controversial debate that has been raging for decades: Is genetic engineering a distraction from addressing the real issues of animal welfare and economic inequality in the food system? What are the risks, and is the public ready for it?
(Picture: Cow on the horizon, Credit: Getty Images)
The Pig ProblemThe Food Chain add
A deadly and highly contagious disease is spreading across Europe's pig farms. African Swine Fever Virus doesn't harm humans, but once it infects domestic and wild pigs almost all of them die through internal bleeding within days.
More than a million pigs are thought to have died as a result of the latest outbreak, devastating hundreds of farms and damaging exports. It's the first time the virus has ever hit Europe's pig farming heartland. With a vaccine still years off, and amid fears the disease could reach as far as China, we ask if the virus can be stopped, and how.
Emily Thomas meets people who think the answer lies in building fences between countries, genetically engineering pigs, and even calling in the army to hunt down disease-spreading wild boar.
(Picture: A pig in a sty. Credit: Getty Images)
The Food PilgrimsThe Food Chain add
Can you think of a food you would travel across continents for?
Emily Thomas meets people who have gone to extreme lengths for one special meal or ingredient. From a writer searching for a fruit in West Africa to better understand his ancestors, to a curry-lover who chartered a plane to deliver his favourite Indian takeaway.
What is the difference between a food pilgrim and a food tourist, and what dangers might culinary travel bring? Plus, what happens when an entire country decides no distance is too great for its favourite fish?
(Photo: Man with backpack looking into distance. Credit: Getty Images)
I Can't Taste!The Food Chain add
If you could not taste your food, what would you eat? Would you even want to? Taste disorders are rare, but they can have devastating impacts on people's lives. They can also tell us a lot about our food.
Emily Thomas meets a cookery writer who says she wanted to die after a car accident robbed her of taste. But as the sense slowly returned she became a more experimental cook.
And a man who has not been able to taste anything for five years, explains how it has changed his social life, and how he has found innovative ways to enjoy his food.
Plus, we hear calls for more research to develop treatments for these disorders, and how taste could be key in the early diagnosis of dementia.
(Photo: A hand holding a black apple. Credit: Getty Images)
Gordon Ramsay: My Life in Five DishesThe Food Chain add
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)
In Search of Wine's 'Holy Grail'The Food Chain add
Wine has been getting more and more alcoholic in recent decades, driven by consumer tastes and climate change. This has big implications not only for public health, but also the quality of the bottle.
But making a lower alcohol wine that is still full of flavour is extremely complicated, especially when growing grapes in rising temperatures – some have called it the profession’s Holy Grail.
Emily Thomas meets those trying to solve the puzzle: a Chilean vineyard owner; a climate change and grape variety academic; and an Australian scientist whose raspberry-flavoured Chardonnay could hold the key.
(Picture: Wine cellar. Credit: Getty Images)