239 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.

    How not to run a brewery

    How not to run a brewery

    If you are a beer lover, the idea of running your own brewery might sound like the stuff of dreams. And it might seem like the perfect time to do it - an explosion of interest has seen craft breweries pop up in huge numbers in many parts of the world.

    But the industry is notoriously hard to crack. Expensive equipment, the space required for brewing, a need for big marketing budgets and fierce competition from other brands are all factors. Then there’s the hugely important, but rather subjective question of whether your beer actually tastes any good. Tamasin Ford speaks to three craft beer aficionados in the UK, USA and Brazil who all tried - and failed - to turn their hobby into a viable business. They talk about their hopes, hurdles and mistakes and whether the journey has affected their love for the amber nectar.

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

    (Picture: Jon Cockley, Sergio Fraga and Carol Waggener. Credit: Handsome Frank, Sergio Fraga, Bold Missy Brewery, BBC)

    • 26 min
    The mystery of mukbang

    The mystery of mukbang

    What's the fascination with watching total strangers eat plate after plate of junk food? Is it a grotesque and irresponsible spectacle, or could it be a way to tackle loneliness, and even help some deal with their own food issues? Graihagh Jackson finds out what's fuelling the internet craze 'mukbang' and asks what it says about our attitudes to food and each other.

    An avid mukbang watcher explains how it gives her emotional and social connections she's lacking in her offline life, and also helps her resist the urge to eat foods she shouldn't. Performer Moxie Beast describes how she amplifies the sounds of her crunching and chewing to soothe her viewers, and how she tries to stay healthy while doing it.

    In South Korea, where mukbang started, we hear how mukbang is helping to forge digital communities at a time when many, especially the young, are living alone. Plus, a clinical psychiatrist talks us through his latest research into the links between mukbang and eating disorders.

    • 31 min
    The end of the road for street food?

    The end of the road for street food?

    Street food is one of the many charms of South East Asia, but there are signs this much-loved way of life and much-needed source of food is on the decline. We visit three of the region’s best-known street food areas – Bangkok, Singapore and Penang – to find out why.

    A food hawker in Bangkok tells us his family’s stall, like thousands of others, was forced off the streets as part of a government move to clean up the city. Plus, Graihagh Jackson hears how these changes could have serious consequences for the city’s residents, many of whom have no kitchens at home and rely on cheap street food for their daily meals.

    A family of street food vendors in Singapore, where the trade has been moved into enclosed food courts, tells us it’s long, hard and poorly-paid work, and that young people often have no interest in carrying on the tradition.

    And in Penang, Malaysia, a government move to preserve local dishes by banning foreign workers may have backfired by removing a source of cheap labour vital to keeping many vendors afloat.

    (Picture: A street food vendor in Bangkok, Thailand. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

    • 27 min
    Fried chicken: Fast food champion

    Fried chicken: Fast food champion

    Fried chicken is loved the world over - it’s the most popular dish in global fast food, according to industry analysts, eclipsing even the burger. From Senegal to Singapore many countries have their own native twist on it, whether it’s covered in sesame seeds, battered in tempura or finished with a dunk in aioli. But what is it that makes fried chicken so appealing to so many different cultures?

    Graihagh Jackson speaks to three fried chicken shop owners from South Korea, the UK and South Africa to find out how battered poultry has come to achieve such global dominance. They explain how different cultures like their birds fried, how competitive the industry can be, and go deep into the science behind the perfect bite.

    We also learn how hard it can be to convince customers that fried chicken should be viewed as a gourmet meal, and priced accordingly, rather than a cheap, unhealthy snack. And how important is it to source the best possible meat, without going bust?

    Plus, is the smell of a deep fat fryer any good for your love life?

    (Picture: A hand holding a piece of fried chicken. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

    • 27 min
    Made in space

    Made in space

    Why are companies blasting bottles of alcohol and crops into space? Are they just publicity stunts, or are there some serious scientific discoveries to be made?

    We explore the potential of space when it comes to producing food and drink - not for astronauts or the first settlers on Mars, but by developing crops that could be more productive and more resistant to climate change here on Earth.

    A NASA scientist tells Graihagh Jackson how microgravity on the International Space Station could be the key to unlocking the potential of many Earth crops, and a serial entrepreneur explains why he’s investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the idea in a bid to save Bordeaux wine.

    Plus, we find out how space science has already helped us grow indoor crops and develop more efficient and environmentally friendly fertilisers.

    (Picture: Planet Earth, composed by NASA images. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

    • 29 min
    Why are people putting chemicals in our food?

    Why are people putting chemicals in our food?

    Have you ever looked at the ingredients on your microwave meal and wondered what dextrose and sodium nitrite are doing in your dinner?

    These are some of the many chemicals used in processed foods - some are found in nature, but others can also be made in a laboratory. They’re used by food manufacturers for many reasons, from making sure rice doesn’t go mouldy, to ensuring yoghurt is low fat. But has the industry gone too far, adding too many synthetics to our food?

    Graihagh Jackson meets three food scientists to find out what they're adding to our food, and why. Does it matter whether we use 'natural' or synthetic substances, why are some added ingredients not listed on the label, and how do these scientists ensure they are safe?

    Plus, how do you bake cookies at 30,000 feet, and what does space smell like?

    (Picture: A scientist picking up a plant leaf. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

    • 26 min

Customer Reviews

rouxdei ,

Hello from a new fan

I appreciate the depth and variety of food related topics, not your every day (look at me style) podcast.
I also hear caring, deep interest and compassion in Greer’s style of interview.
Thank You.
Please consider speaking with my favorite award winning small miso company in the U.S. called South River Miso in Conway Massachusetts .

tootnwootn ,


Wonderful. I’m heading to Netflix next to enjoy her show. Writing and cooking, great combination !

Chucharoo ,

No two are the same

I never know what to expect but each episode is so interesting. I love the chefs life in 5 dishes. Brilliant!

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