248 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
    • 4.7, 178 Ratings

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

    Is our food creating pandemics?

    Is our food creating pandemics?

    Scientists are still trying to uncover exactly how COVID-19 emerged, although some evidence suggests the disease may have originated in bats and infected us via another animal host. Recently, we’ve seen the emergence of many such viruses - so-called zoonotic diseases - that jump from animals to humans; including Ebola, SARS and MERS. Some scientists believe they’re becoming increasingly common and that the primary driver is likely food and farming. So how have zoonotic diseases been dealt with in the past and can we learn any valuable lessons about our food chain there?

    Graihagh Jackson travels to Malaysia to uncover the story of Nipah virus that first emerged in 1999, killing up to 75% of those it infected. We hear how the virus emerged, how it changed the community there forever and how it was eventually curbed. Could the story of Nipah virus hold the key to how we protect ourselves from future pandemics like COVID-19?

    If you would like to get in touch, please email thefoochain@bbc.co.uk

    (Picture: Forest burning in the Amazon. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

    • 28 min
    Dan Barber: My life in five dishes

    Dan Barber: My life in five dishes

    In an illustrious career spanning three decades, there’s little that booking-writing, seed-breading, ‘philosopher chef’ Dan Barber has not put his hands to. Celebrated as the poster child of the ‘farm to fork’ movement, he tells Graihagh Jackson how a visit to a wheat farm called into question everything he thought he knew about agriculture and changed his cooking and ethos forever.

    Surprisingly though, Dan started life wanting to be a writer not a chef. Through five dishes, we hear how a failed stint as a baker, a baptism of fire in french kitchens and running a company from a mice-infested kitchen eventually won him over to the cause. We learn that an obsession with simplicity and flavour has taken him on a farming odyssey around the world, what coronavirus can teach us about the future of food, and how it all started with a humble dish of scrambled eggs.

    If you would like to get in touch please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk

    (Picture: Chef Dan Barber. Credit: Richard Bolls/BBC)

    • 28 min
    Should China ban 'wet' markets?

    Should China ban 'wet' markets?

    China’s so-called ‘wet’ markets have been under intense scrutiny ever since the first coronavirus cases were linked to one in Wuhan six months ago. Now a growing number of influential figures, including leading White House adviser Dr Anthony Fauci, are calling for them to be banned.

    But the suggestion has been met with dismay and even anger in China - an expert on the markets tells Graihagh Jackson they are the main source of fresh food in Chinese cities and a healthier and more affordable option than many supermarkets. A market trader in Beijing tells us they play a vital cultural and community role too.

    But if these markets were shut down, would it prevent future outbreaks? We speak to a virus-hunter and expert in the region, who explains that it's global agriculture’s growing encroachment into wild spaces that's making us most vulnerable to emerging infectious diseases.

    If you would like to contact us about this or any other episode please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.

    (Picture: A vendor sells meat at Xihua Farmer's Market in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China. Credit: Alex Plavevski/EPA/BBC)

    • 28 min
    What next for restaurants?

    What next for restaurants?

    Lockdowns around the world have seen many restaurants close overnight, but how many will be able to re-open once restrictions are lifted? And if so, what will they look like? Graihagh Jackson hears from a top New York chef and a London food writer how an existing culture of high rents, razor-thin margins and low-paid workers has plagued the industry leaving many vulnerable to permanent closure. Could this forced break be a chance to ‘reset’ for the better? A strategist explains how restaurants need to completely re-orientate their business models to weather the storm and keep their suppliers in business in the process. Plus, a veteran franchise investor explains why - contrary to many others - he is excited about the opportunity this time of huge change could bring.

    If you would like to get in touch please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.

    (Picture: Man arranges single table outside his restaurant in Rome. Credit:EPA/FABIO FRUSTACI/BBC)

    • 27 min
    Coronavirus: Chefs fight back

    Coronavirus: Chefs fight back

    Coronavirus has crippled the restaurant industry, leaving thousands of chefs fighting to save their businesses, but some have been using the crisis, and their own influence, to help and inspire others.

    Massimo Bottura, one of the world’s most celebrated chefs, hasn’t been able to serve guests in his three-Michelin-star restaurant, Osteria Francescana, since early March. He tells Graihagh Jackson why, instead, he has been inviting the world into his home kitchen via Instagram every night during Italy’s long lockdown.

    Deepanker Khosla, one of Thailand’s top young chefs, refused to close his kitchen when Bangkok’s eateries were forced to shut. He’s now using it to cook thousands of meals for the migrant workers who’ve been left jobless and hungry by the pandemic.

    And Ana Roš, chef at one of the world’s top 50 restaurants - Hiša Franko - has been creating new products to support her local farmers and suppliers, and is trying to use the crisis to reform Slovenia’s entire food industry.

    If you'd like to get in touch with us please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk

    (Picture: Massimo Bottura, Ana Roš, and Deepanker Khosla handing out food to a woman in Bangkok. Credit: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan, Pablo Cuadra, Getty Images, Deepanker Khosla, BBC)

    • 29 min
    Death by coronavirus or hunger?

    Death by coronavirus or hunger?

    As coronavirus continues to spread and lockdowns leave swathes of people unemployed, a new problem is emerging: hunger.
    It is being witnessed in communities around the world, especially where people are living hand to mouth. We travel to India and Kenya to see how the unfolding hunger crisis is being addressed. Graihagh Jackson hears from one of Nairobi's poorest neighbourhoods - Mathare - that many are not able to buy enough food and are surviving on one,
    innutritious meal per day. The local community has rallied to provide fresh water, food donations and cash transfers - but it is not nearly enough to address the scale of the problem. Many say they would rather go out to find work and risk getting coronavirus, than stay home and face starvation. Then to Delhi, where a last-minute lockdown in the country has left thousands of migrant workers stranded and without the means to feed themselves. We speak to a food charity on the unprecedented need for food, how you manage preparing and distributing 22,000 meals per day and what this could all mean for the future of how hunger is perceived and addressed.

    To get in touch with the show, please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.

    (Picture: Man receives food donation. Credit: Getty Images/Hindustan Times/BBC)

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
178 Ratings

178 Ratings

jrcornett ,

Food chain

This is an outstanding podcast. Insightful, timely and balanced.

California Admires Ruiz Tizon ,

Wet markets

So Western biased, this episode makes me ill.

sfledmo ,

Tasty!

What a delicious podcast! Interviews, recipes, experiences, even beer! (There's food in beer, there is no beer in food.) Keep up the great work.

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