298 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

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

    The school that food built

    The school that food built

    When chef Jamie Oliver launched a campaign to improve British school meals, it inspired one headteacher to take things much further.

    Charlton Manor Primary School, in south London, now grows its own produce, keeps bees and chickens, and has a restaurant aiming for a Michelin star. Head Tim Baker has also overhauled the teaching curriculum to put food centre stage - from learning about fair trade banana growers in geography lessons to slicing pizzas to help with fractions.

    Tamasin Ford speaks to teachers and students to find out how they did it, and asks whether this could act as a model for how to teach our children about food's impact on our health and the planet.

    Producer: Simon Tulett

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

    (Picture: Students Sarah and Vaidas in the garden at Charlton Manor Primary School)

    Contributors:

    Students at Charlton Manor Primary School;
    Joe Grollman, teaching chef;
    Nick Shelley, gardener;
    Flavio Hernandez, head chef;
    Tim Baker, headteacher;
    Kim Smith, TastEd and City, University of London;
    Dennis Hollywood, teacher

    • 36 min
    Raymond Blanc: My life in five dishes

    Raymond Blanc: My life in five dishes

    The celebrated French chef Raymond Blanc tells Emily Thomas about his life through five dishes.

    From a childhood roaming magical forests in Eastern France, to the rather less enticing restaurant scene of 1970s England, Raymond describes how with little grasp of the language and no formal training, he quickly became one of the UK’s best known chefs. His restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, has been thriving for almost 40 years and during that time he has added a string of cookbooks, TV shows and brasseries to his name. Raymond explains how he balances being a gastronome and perfectionist with running a large business.

    But we also hear another side to the exuberant chef. The past year has been perhaps one the most difficult of Raymond’s life - closing his restaurants, the isolation of lockdown, the death of his mother and being hospitalised with coronavirus for a month. He tells us why he thinks it will make him a better man.

    • 35 min
    Inside the mind of a kitchen gadget

    Inside the mind of a kitchen gadget

    Meet the unsung heroes of your kitchen drawers.

    When you hold a vegetable peeler or potato masher, do you ever think about the person behind it?

    We celebrate chefs and cookbook writers - but what about the people who make the tools that make it all easier?

    Emily Thomas meets three product designers who explain the thinking behind the everyday objects we keep in our kitchens. We’ll hear about accessibility and segregation - but also art and beauty. Welcome to the philosophy of kitchen gadgets.

    Contributors: Dan Formosa, Scott Jarvie, and Gavin Reay.

    • 27 min
    Do we need to talk about ‘ultra-processed food’?

    Do we need to talk about ‘ultra-processed food’?

    The Food Chain delves into the world of ‘Ultra-Processed Food’ - a term coined in Brazil that has been provoking debate around the world.

    Ultra Processed Food is a term that encompasses a broad range of common products from industrialised bread to breakfast cereals to chocolate bars. A growing body of evidence points to an association between their consumption and negative health outcomes including obesity, over-eating, depression, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes. Countries like Brazil are so concerned they are recommending people avoid UPFs all together. But in some of the world's most developed economies these foods make up, up to 80% of our diets, whilst the public understands very little about them.

    Emily Thomas speaks to representatives from the food industry and people at the forefront of the science into UPFs to try to find out whether this is just another dietary buzzword that muddies the waters when it comes to improving the nation’s diets - OR whether it’s something we should ALL be talking about.

    (Picture; Cookie talking in chocolate chips, Credit: BBC/Getty)

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

    Contributors:

    Gyorgy Scrinis: Associate professor of Food Politics and Policy, University of Melbourne
    Maria Laura Louzada: Assistant professor, Department of Nutrition at the University of Sao Paulo
    Kevin Hall: Senior investigator, National Institutes of Health, Maryland
    Kate Halliwell: Chief Scientific Officer, Food and Drink Federation, UK

    • 34 min
    What's the appetite for gene edited food?

    What's the appetite for gene edited food?

    Gene editing could revolutionise agriculture, with some scientists promising healthier and more productive crops and animals, but will consumers want to eat them?

    With the first gene edited crops recently approved for sale, Emily Thomas hears why this technology might be quicker, cheaper and more accurate than the older genetic engineering techniques that produced GMOs, and asks whether these differences could make it more acceptable to a deeply sceptical, even fearful public.

    Some are not convinced by the claims, and there are concerns that current regulations won't protect consumers or the environment from any potential risks. By putting their faith in technology, have scientists and companies overlooked other simpler solutions to our food security problems?

    Producer: Simon Tulett

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

    (Picture: A DNA model on a plate. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

    Contributors:

    Jennifer Kuzma, North Carolina State University;
    Hiroshi Ezura, University of Tsukuba and Sanatech Seed;
    Neth Daño, ETC Group;
    Philippe Dumont, Calyxt

    • 36 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

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