300 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

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 250 Ratings

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

    Cooking by computer

    Cooking by computer

    From bread making to Thai cuisine, cookery classes have become a popular way for people to learn new culinary skills and meet people. But coronavirus lockdowns suddenly brought these businesses to a standstill. Rory Cellan-Jones hears from three cooks, who quickly pivoted to virtual cooking classes to survive. Could they get over the technical challenges, and can you really teach someone to cook through a computer?

    (Picture: mother and child on a virtual cooking course. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)


    Fayruza Abrahams, Taste Malay
    Rawan Al Waada, Rebels in the Kitchen
    Sue Hudson, Bread Workshops

    • 27 min
    OCD, the kitchen, and me

    OCD, the kitchen, and me

    Hot stoves, perishable food, and potentially dirty surfaces can make the kitchen a difficult place for someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

    People with OCD will frequently experience unwanted thoughts, images or urges - which may include worries about contamination or harming themselves and others. They will often use repetitive behaviours to relieve their anxiety - including washing and cleaning, or repeatedly checking their actions. All this means that both cooking and eating food prepared by others can become very distressing.

    In this episode, Emily Thomas meets three people who have suffered from the disorder. They explain how debilitating the condition can be by describing just one aspect of daily life - the way they eat.

    Contributors: Chrissie Fadipe, Shai Friedland, Patricia Grisafi

    If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this programme, please see the related links section at the bottom of this page.

    • 28 min
    The power of a photograph

    The power of a photograph

    Food photography is about much more than beautifully presented dishes in cookbooks - it’s also being used to change the way we think about what we eat.

    Emily Thomas meets three photographers to discuss some of their most powerful images - from a bloody scene in a Thai slaughterhouse to a display of human resilience in a refugee camp.

    They explore why still images of food and food production can be a compelling way to communicate about politics, society, and economics. We also hear about the impact such hard-hitting photography can have on the people behind the lens.

    To see the images described on the show, plus a few more, visit our homepage www.bbc.com/foodchain

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

    Producer: Simon Tulett.


    Jo-Anne McArthur;
    Dorte Verner;
    Li Huaifeng.

    (Picture: A Moken spear fisherman diving for his catch. Credit: Dorte Verner)

    • 35 min
    The unstoppable rise of starch

    The unstoppable rise of starch

    Starches are among the most important and versatile additives in processed food, but most of us know little about them and there are some we should be wary of.

    Emily Thomas hears why starch is a food manufacturer’s best friend - making pies crispier, cakes airier, and yoghurts creamier. It’s even used to mimic and replace ingredients some of us want to limit, like sugar and fat.

    But although starch is a vital source of energy for all of us, some highly processed starches have been linked with negative health outcomes, and it can be hard for the consumer to find out which type they’re eating.

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

    Producers: Simon Tulett and Siobhan O'Connell.


    Peter Hendrikx, Ingredion;
    Marty Jopkin, author of 'The Science of Food';
    Fred Warren, The Quadram Institute

    (Picture: Bread 'flying' in mid-air. Credit: Getty/BBC)

    • 30 min
    Is there a ‘chefsplainer’ in your kitchen?

    Is there a ‘chefsplainer’ in your kitchen?

    Is there someone in your life who needs to have total control in the kitchen? Someone who breathes down your neck, micromanages your every move and can’t resist explaining exactly how to chop a carrot? If so, you may be in the company of what we’re calling ‘a Chefsplainer’. Or perhaps all this rings a bell because you are a chefsplainer? Whoever you are - this episode of The Food Chain is for you.

    Emily Thomas meets a married couple, a mother and son, and two friends to unpack their power dynamics in the kitchen. They explore why some people feel the need to take control over the cooking, how this reflects our emotional attachment to food, and whether what happens in the kitchen reflects or changes relationships outside it. Plus - why do some of us think that it’s ok to behave in certain ways in the kitchen - that we wouldn’t dream of elsewhere?

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

    (Picture: couple argue in a kitchen. Credit: Getty/BBC)


    Abby Saverino
    Russell Newlove
    Harriet Gore
    Joel Gore
    Louis Coiffait
    Ali Potter

    • 29 min
    Is it time to kill the calorie?

    Is it time to kill the calorie?

    Calories are ubiquitous across most of the world and have been used to help people manage their weight for more than a century. But have we been counting them wrong all along? In this episode, Emily Thomas finds out how the calorie is a lot more complex than many of us realise.

    Historian Louise Foxcroft describes how this measure of energy became the darling of scientists and public health experts across the globe, and the unwitting bedfellow of the diet industry. Geneticist Giles Yeo argues that calorie counting can actually be harmful, encouraging us to make unhealthy choices, and Bridget Benelam from the British Nutrition Foundation explains why she thinks that despite all its flaws, the calorie will be with us for a good while yet.

    • 32 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
250 Ratings

250 Ratings

rolltidecole ,

Informative and fun

Always informative and constantly engaging. So glad this pod exists

Pantuji ,

Corona Virus and School Meals

I was really impressed with the podcast. It was not a topic I would have learned about otherwise. The main point that struck me was how elementary and middle school is a 'safety net' for the young children all over the world. I know it is a huge boost to attract the children with the school meals. Also bringing them into educational programs gives them a 'Head Start' to life. Loved it!!

Runandlisten ,

Always Thoughtful and Interesting

Really like this podcast and it’s ability to teach me something useful and relevant. Live it!

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