9 episodes

Fed with Chris van Tulleken is a new food podcast, investigating the entangled web of forces that shape what ends up on our plates. In the first series, Planet Chicken, Chris digs into the story of one of the most widely eaten meats on earth - to try to get to the truth of why we eat so much of it, and what that means for the birds, for us, and for the planet.
If there's one thing Chris knows, it's what he should and shouldn't be eating.
He's across the dangers of ultra-processed foods: those nutritionally empty snacks that fill our supermarket shelves and entrance our kids. And at the same time, he's confident he knows what we should be eating: good, old fashioned whole food - recognisable ingredients, no mysterious additives, no harmful rubbish.
Something like a nice wholesome roast chicken, perhaps? In fact, in the van Tulleken household that's a family favourite.
But recently, Chris has been getting asked more questions - by neighbours, people on the street, even government ministers: and he's realised there's a massive gap in his food knowledge.
Sure, he knows what happens in our bodies once that delicious gravy-drenched chicken dinner passes our lips: but what about everything that comes before that? Where it's from, how it was reared, how it was processed? Can he say what toll the process of getting that chicken from farm to plate might've have taken on the animal, the environment, the nutritional content?
Because in a world where so much food comes via an industrialised, globalised food system; where we're subtly influenced at every turn by advertising and price tags; and where ALL food choices ultimately come with a cost of some sort - how much do any of us really know or want to know about the consequences of our dinner?

Fed with Chris van Tulleken BBC Radio 4

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 8 Ratings

Fed with Chris van Tulleken is a new food podcast, investigating the entangled web of forces that shape what ends up on our plates. In the first series, Planet Chicken, Chris digs into the story of one of the most widely eaten meats on earth - to try to get to the truth of why we eat so much of it, and what that means for the birds, for us, and for the planet.
If there's one thing Chris knows, it's what he should and shouldn't be eating.
He's across the dangers of ultra-processed foods: those nutritionally empty snacks that fill our supermarket shelves and entrance our kids. And at the same time, he's confident he knows what we should be eating: good, old fashioned whole food - recognisable ingredients, no mysterious additives, no harmful rubbish.
Something like a nice wholesome roast chicken, perhaps? In fact, in the van Tulleken household that's a family favourite.
But recently, Chris has been getting asked more questions - by neighbours, people on the street, even government ministers: and he's realised there's a massive gap in his food knowledge.
Sure, he knows what happens in our bodies once that delicious gravy-drenched chicken dinner passes our lips: but what about everything that comes before that? Where it's from, how it was reared, how it was processed? Can he say what toll the process of getting that chicken from farm to plate might've have taken on the animal, the environment, the nutritional content?
Because in a world where so much food comes via an industrialised, globalised food system; where we're subtly influenced at every turn by advertising and price tags; and where ALL food choices ultimately come with a cost of some sort - how much do any of us really know or want to know about the consequences of our dinner?

    8. Beyond the Bird

    8. Beyond the Bird

    So we’ve got a comprehensive overview of the chicken planet we live on... Do we still want to eat it? And if NOT, what are the alternatives?
    Dr Chris van Tulleken wrestles with the final dilemma: slaughter. Could he bring himself to dispatch an animal himself? Is he happy supporting an industry which kills animals in his name? And if not, what could he eat instead?
    We explore the rise of the alternative protein industry – plant-based meat alternatives, lab-grown meat, or most shocking of all for some, actual meat abstinence. Veganism.
    Where should we go from here?
    And it’s time to revisit that initial question: what’s influencing our choices when it comes to eating chicken, what impact is that having – and are we bothered?

    • 28 min
    7. Big Chicken

    7. Big Chicken

    We're a planet addicted to chicken - and our appetites fuel a massive global industry... but is it one we should support?
    As Chris wrestles with how he personally feels about this weird and wonderful bird, he decides to take a look at the business as a whole: a global industry that's cited by some as a shining example of a super-efficient food production system, one that could help drive food security around the world.
    But others say it’s a cruel, destructive and outdated structure that makes a few people richer while exploiting others – along with animals and the environment.
    In Brazil, one of the world’s biggest chicken and soya producers, our reporter Leonardo Milano hears accusations of threats and pollution relating to the feed sector; while in Africa, Chris learns about poultry-farming initiatives helping to make struggling nations more food-secure.
    And then there are the other challenges that the industry is wrestling with: from antimicrobial resistance to the threat of another major global pandemic, potentially stemming from chicken farms…
    So is there a ‘big business bad guy’ to blame – or does responsibility lie closer to home, with unquestioning consumers like Chris?
    Produced by Lucy Taylor and Emily Knight.
    Additional reporting, editing and translation by Fernando Otto, BBC News Brasil.

    • 29 min
    6. The Fast Food Trap

    6. The Fast Food Trap

    Chris has learned how to make better chicken choices, and what those choices really mean.
    So why is he STILL eating CRAP?
    Like many of us, Chris is always trying to eat better food: healthy, high welfare, good for the environment. This kind of consumer demand is making the chicken industry better, in tiny increments. So why do so many of us give ourselves a pass when it comes to the food we KNOW we shouldn’t be eating, yet we do in absolutely vast amounts… fast food?
    Chicken is at the very heart of this industry. As a cheap meat that doesn’t have a strong taste, can easily take on other flavours and doesn’t have any religious restrictions, it’s the ideal takeaway ingredient; from nuggets to chow mein to tikka masala.
    And although we might be careful about chicken choices when buying it raw to prepare at home, somehow we don’t seem to mind turning a blind eye to the origins and nutritional content of our fast food favourites, especially if we’re hungry…
    Chris discovers just how bad this food can be for both us and the planet, and why we’re powerless to resist it.
    Produced by Emily Knight and Lucy Taylor

    • 28 min
    5. Fine Print

    5. Fine Print

    Do YOU know what you're eating? Are you sure?
    Dr Chris van Tulleken is keen to make good food choices, and buy the best chicken possible for his dinner. High welfare, tasty, and good for the environment, ideally. But it's not as easy as that. How CAN he make good food choices if he has no idea what he's buying?
    Chris explores what we actually know about the food we buy, and to what extent we can trust what's on a label.
    He also uncovers the startling truth about two very different ways that we buy chicken - lifting the lid on why sometimes, even the most moral meat shoppers turn a blind eye...
    Produced by Lucy Taylor and Emily Knight.

    • 28 min
    4. The Ethical Consumer's Dilemma

    4. The Ethical Consumer's Dilemma

    We’ve heard about the potential problems around chicken welfare. But how does that square with their impact on the environment?
    Dr Chris van Tulleken finds out what it takes to produce the most eco-friendly chicken meat possible. And makes a devastating discovery. Welfare concerns, and environmental credentials, often pull in OPPOSITE directions. Does he want to eat the happiest birds, or the ones kindest to the planet?
    Halfway through his poultry quest, Chris remains massively conflicted: he loves chicken, but some of what he’s discovered makes him question how much he eats it. Will he still be able to look at it the same way as he goes deeper down the rabbit hole? And more importantly, should he keep serving it up to the family?
    Produced by Emily Knight and Lucy Taylor.

    • 28 min
    3. U OK Hen?

    3. U OK Hen?

    We eat chicken. A LOT of it. We might love the taste, but what about how we're treating those birds?
    After witnessing first-hand the reality of indoor chicken farming - how most of the chicken we eat is raised - Dr Chris van Tulleken wants to know: are the birds happy enough, or is our method of rearing cheap chicken actually cruel?
    If so, what’s the ‘happier’ alternative – and do carnivores like Chris care enough to pay the price for that, or does a love of meat ultimately trump ethics?
    Chris battles with his conscience, and finds the answer hard to stomach.
    Produced by Lucy Taylor and Emily Knight.
    Archive audio:
    - VIVA broiler investigation video (2021)
    - BBC and Channel 4 news reports on battery cage ban (2012)

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
8 Ratings

8 Ratings

mspassell ,

4785467 stars

A chicken I know forced me to give this a 5 star review but I concur.

Top Podcasts In Arts

Fresh Air
NPR
The Moth
The Moth
99% Invisible
Roman Mars
Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked
Snap Judgment
The Magnus Archives
Rusty Quill
The Book Review
The New York Times

You Might Also Like

A Thorough Examination with Drs Chris and Xand
BBC Radio 4
Just One Thing - with Michael Mosley
BBC Radio 4
Sliced Bread
BBC Radio 4
ZOE Science & Nutrition
ZOE
The Food Programme
BBC Radio 4
Inside Health
BBC Radio 4