230 episodes

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

The Food Chain BBC

    • Food

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

    Fantasy, fiction and food

    Fantasy, fiction and food

    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 same is true for many novels, where food can be an integral part of building characters, plots, even entire worlds. Graihagh Jackson speaks to three world-acclaimed writers – two authors and one Nollywood script writer and film director - to find out how and why they employ food in their work.

    How do you create make-believe foods for a science fiction world, yet still imbue them with meanings that real world listeners will understand? When you’re trying to appeal to multiple audiences and cultures, how do you stop your food references getting lost in translation? And can food be used to highlight or send subtle messages about subjects that are traditionally seen as taboo?

    (Picture: Artistic depiction of a woman lying on top of an orange. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

    • 26 min
    What's climate change doing to cows?

    What's climate change doing to cows?

    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 partly fuelled the flames have been affecting cattle in Australia for several years, destroying many of their grazing lands - a vital source of nutrition. There are also signs that the extreme heat in some parts of the country could even be making these animals infertile. Graihagh Jackson speaks to Gundula Rhoades, a livestock vet from New South Wales, to find out more.

    We also hear about the impact of climate change from two other farm vets. Edwin Chelule, from Nairobi, Kenya, says droughts there have been making dairy cows less productive, destroying families' livelihoods. And Emily Gascoigne, a sheep expert from the south west of England, tells us some disease patterns have been changing.

    All three work in an industry that's a big part of the climate change problem – livestock are responsible for almost 15 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions - so can they use their medical expertise and close relationship with farmers to bring change?

    (Picture: A farmer standing near the bones of a dead cow in a drought-affected paddock in New South Wales, Australia. Credit: Getty/BBC)

    • 26 min
    Asma Khan: My life in five dishes

    Asma Khan: My life in five dishes

    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 went on to defy those low expectations and open one of London’s most sought-after restaurants.

    Asma tells us how she could barely boil an egg when she first got married and moved to England, about the intense loneliness she felt so far from home, and how the smell of paratha convinced her that the only way to recover was to learn how to cook.

    The Darjeeling Express founder describes the restaurant’s humble beginnings as a supper club in her London flat, why it has always had an all-female kitchen, and her plans to use food to empower female refugees and prostitutes.

    (Picture: Asma Khan with a pakora and chutney. Credit: BBC)

    • 25 min
    Eat the year

    Eat the year

    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 Jackson meets three women who went to extraordinary lengths in search of change: a working mum who cooked a different meal every day of the year to escape a cooking rut; a writer who made her own salt from seawater and learned how to butcher a sheep as part of a pledge to only eat non-processed foods; and a blogger who logged and photographed everything she ate for 365 days.

    We hear how difficult, expensive and exhausting the challenges were, but also how they brought each of these women closer to their families and friends, as well as their food.

    (Picture: A tree through four seasons. Credit: Getty/BBC)

    • 26 min
    Samin Nosrat: My life in five dishes

    Samin Nosrat: My life in five dishes

    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 fame in the last few years, but has struggled to come to terms with that success and says she still feels like an impostor and outsider. She very nearly took a completely different career path - she tells Emily Thomas that her dream was always to be a poet until a magical experience at a fine-dining restaurant changed everything.

    Even now, though, she doesn't aspire to run a restaurant or establish a culinary empire - she doesn't like the person she becomes when put in charge of a team of chefs.

    This episode was recorded at The Cookery School at Little Portland Street and was first broadcast on 30 May 2019.

    (Picture: Samin Nosrat. Credit: BBC)

    • 26 min
    I hate Christmas pudding!

    I hate Christmas pudding!

    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 people who dislike dishes that traditionally appear during festive or other holidays, and ask why they continue to serve them anyway: Ed Levine, a food writer and broadcaster from the US, explains his antipathy towards pumpkin pie; chef and restaurateur Emily Roux, daughter of Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr., tells us how she dodges Christmas pudding and turkey; and Al Pitcher, a comedian from Sweden, recalls his traumatic experience tasting one of the country's most famous national dishes - sour herring.

    Why can it be so hard to admit our dislike of these foods, and what’s the best way to banish them from our tables without upsetting family, friends or even entire nations?

    Thanks to Canal Digital Sweden for the extract from Al Pitcher's surströmming video.

    (Picture: An unhappy young boy looking at a Christmas pudding. Credit: Getty/BBC)

    • 26 min

Customer Reviews

Peanutbutternutty ,

Lots of food for thought

Such a good podcast. Really varied, insightful and covering subjects I just would never have thought of. Objective, well put together, if you like food give this a go!

lepeagourmand ,

Brilliant

I absolutely love this podcast, very insightful and no one is shying away from asking the real questions but always without judgement. I also presents the facts from different perspectives which is very interesting.

lizr1289 ,

Love the Food Chain

Always a new and interesting perspective on food issues.

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