The Food Chain

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

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Last Episode : November 29, 2023 7:00pm

Last Scanned : 3.8 hours ago


Episodes currently hosted on IPFS.

Confirmed 5
Pesticide exports
Many countries allow the manufacture and export of pesticides that are banned for use in their own countries. Recently France and Belgium have introduced laws preventing the export of such agrochemicals if their use is banned in the European Union. The European Commission is currently considering whether to introduce similar laws. Grace Livingstone reports from Paraguay where some small farmers living near soya plantations say heavy pesticide spraying is affecting their health and livelihoods. We hear from the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Toxics, Marcos Orellana, who says that global pesticide regulations should be tougher. And we speak to Emily Rees of CropLife International, which represents the agrochemical industry, who says different climates and soil conditions require different pesticides. Produced and presented by Grace Livingstone. (Image: a tractor spraying soybean crops. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
Expires in 48 hours
Published Wednesday
Confirmed 7
Food for new mums
Seaweed soup, aniseed sprinkles on toast, pig trotter soup and fried chicken. In this episode Ruth Alexander learns about what your body needs postpartum, and hears different food traditions for that time, from around the world. Chinese-American author Heng Ou tells us about her differing experiences after the birth of her three children, and how an auntie making dumplings non-stop helped her. Allison Oman Lawi from the World Food Programme explains the nutritional needs for the body in the weeks after giving birth and talks about how cultural traditions often get it just right. Mengqi Wang in China tells us about her experience in a postpartum clinic and how she managed to break the strict dietary rules a few times. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: [email protected] by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Hannah Bewley and Rumella Dasgupta. (Image: A woman holds her new baby. Credit: Getty Images)
Expires in 16 hours
Published 11/22
Eco scores on food labels
The European Union wants to introduce one system for scoring the sustainability of food products. The new requirements are likely to be introduced in 2024. Currently there are a number of different labels and symbols used on food packaging across Europe, and there is concern that this can lead to confusion for consumers and can be open to exploitation. Russell Padmore travels across Ireland, hearing about the pros and cons from farmers, food producers, restaurants and consumers. If you’d like to contact the programme you can email [email protected] Produced and presented by Russell Padmore. (Image: a woman looking at the label on a can of food, holding a shopping basket. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
Published 11/15
How to read a menu
Pan fried, artisanal, gourmet: there's a fashion for foodie words. Why? In this episode, Ruth Alexander finds out how restaurants use language, psychology and behavioural economics to whet your appetite and increase their profits. Linguist Dr Keri Matwick of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore explains the research that shows the longer the description of a dish, the more expensive on average it is. Chef Caroline Martins of Sampa at Blossom Street Social Wine Bar in Manchester, England talks about the mistakes she made when she first designed her menus. Sean Willard of Menu Engineers in California gives us an insight into the power of using a box on the menu.And thanks to listener Simon in London who emailed [email protected] with the idea for the programme. Neither he nor we will look at a menu in the same way again.Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup.(Image: a woman holding a menu in front of her face. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
Published 11/08
Cooking in extreme places
Wherever humans go, whatever we do, we need to eat. In this programme, we meet the people cooking at the extremes. We hear about the chefs serving up three-course meals on Africa’s highest peak; the elaborate puddings created on stormy seas with a cruise ship pastry chef; the art of cramming enough food to feed 100 hungry sailors on board a nuclear submarine with a US Navy submarine culinary specialist, and tapas nights in the Antarctic with the chef at Rothera research station. Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producers: Rumella Dasgupta and Izzy Greenfield (Image: Mount Lister in Antarctica, covered in snow and ice. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: [email protected]
Published 11/01
Why is food so expensive in Ghana?
Ghana’s inflation rate is one of the highest in the world, much of it driven by rising food prices. In this programme Ruth Alexander asks how Ghana went from being the world’s fastest growing economy in 2019, to financial crisis today. Economist John Asafu-Adjaye, at the African Center for Economic Transformation based in Ghana, explains why much of the country’s food is imported. Lydia Amenyaglo explains why historically cocoa has not been made into chocolate in Ghana, instead shipped elsewhere to be manufactured. Her family has farmed cocoa for decades, but she’s struggled to start a new business creating cocoa products at home in Ghana. Ruth hears about the impact of rising food prices on school meals in Ghana. Might Kojo Abreh, at the Institute for Educational Planning and Administration in Ghana, explains the findings from a survey of caterers, schools and students which found that some children are going hungry. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: [email protected] Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Beatrice Pickup(Image: A woman with a child on her back purchasing food. Credit: Getty Images)
Published 10/25
The rise of private chefs
This week, Ruth Alexander is exploring the growing market for professional home cooking and asking whether you’re guaranteed the luxury experience you’re paying for. She speaks to private chef Juliana White, also known as Plate in Progress, about what it's like to cook for the rich and famous in The Hamptons, a summer destination for affluent New York residents.Kate Emery, founder of Amandine International Chef Placement in the south of France, tells Ruth how she handles the big personalities of chef and client, and discusses the demand for private chefs from the middle classes.We talk to one of the newer types of customers, John Holt, about why he's happy to spend handsomely to hire a private chef for an evening, and why it isn't always a success.Italian-born Marcello Ghiretti treats Ruth to some breakfast, and explains the issues surrounding private chefs and professional standards.
Published 10/18
How to feed a city
More than half of us globally now live in cities. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, that number will be closer to seven out of ten of us. How can growing cities feed their populations? In this programme Ruth Alexander finds out about the history of how cities grew to their current scale, and some potential solutions to meeting their food needs. Carolyn Steel, architect and author of ‘Hungry City’ meets Ruth in London, United Kingdom, to talk about the role of transport and markets in making London the city it is today. Ruth hears about Tokyo, Japan, a city that has spread around ancient farmland rather than build on it. She speaks to Yu Tominaga and Mayumi Kawaguchi who own Hasune farm in central Tokyo, and Professor Makoto Yokohari who studies urban farming at the University of Tokyo. In Namibia, our reporter Frauke Jensen Röschlau reports on the role of informal food vendors on the streets of Windhoek, she interviews Professor Ndeyapo Nickanor, an expert in food security at the University of Namibia. If you’d like to contact the programme you can email [email protected]. Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. Additional reporting by Frauke Jensen Röschlau. (Image: commuters walking on a street in Tokyo. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
Published 10/11
Can you eat your way to 100?
What if you could reach a great age through your dietary choices? Imagine – that the food you eat has a direct effect on how long you live. An appealing concept, but can it be backed up by research? In this programme, Ruth Alexander explores the dietary habits of centenarians, to find out if there are any similarities in what they eat and whether their diets have had a bearing on their longevity. She speaks to 100-year-old Betty Webb, to find out how much food has played a role in reaching a century, and discovers more about “Blue Zones” – geographical areas where some researchers claim people live longer than average lifespans. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: [email protected] (Picture: An older woman holding a slice of watermelon. Credit: Getty Images/BBC) Producer: Elisabeth Mahy
Published 10/05
Bonnie Garmus: My life in five dishes
Bonnie Garmus, author of the bestselling novel Lessons in Chemistry, shares the story of her life through five dishes. Ruth Alexander meets Bonnie in her London home, to talk about the food influences in her debut novel about a female chemist turned TV cookery show host in the 1950s and 60s. She’ll hear about Bonnie’s childhood growing up in California, her own personal experiences of sexism in the workplace, the adoption of her Chinese daughters and her relationship with her husband David. Bonnie will bake a dish that features in her novel, ‘desperation brownies’. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: [email protected] Presented by Ruth Alexander. Produced by Beatrice Pickup. (Image: Bonnie Garmus in her London home with a brownie that she has baked. Credit: BBC)
Published 09/27
What's in a national dish?
Many dishes have become famous national symbols both at home and abroad, for example Italian pizza, or British fish and chips. Whilst such dishes can create a sense of unity and identity, they can also be used to fuel nationalism, or to push a political agenda. In this edition of The Food Chain, Izzy Greenfield hears the stories behind some of the most famous national foods, some based more on myth or marketing than historical fact. She speaks to Anya Von Bremzen, author of 'National Dish', in which Anya investigates the origins of foods such as Italian pizza, Japanese noodles, Spanish tapas and Mexican tortillas. The Secretary of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage at UNESCO, Tim Curtis, explains why some dishes are recognised for the community practices that surround them. Andrew Crook, President of the National Federation of Fish Fryers in the UK, and food historian Professor Panikos Panayi from DeMontfort University in Leicester, England, explain the complex history behind fish and chips.If you would like to get in touch with the programme, email [email protected] by Izzy Greenfield. Produced by Beatrice Pickup.(Image:takeaway fish and chips with a union jack flag on a cocktail stick. Credit: BBC)
Published 09/20
The taste test
Consumers have the buying power but how much are they considered when a brand decides to make a change? In this edition of The Food Chain Ruth Alexander takes a look at what goes into developing some of the products we know and love. We travel to the northwest of England to a consumer taste testing facility, Wirral Sensory Services. Such businesses would have been few and far between just decades ago but now they’re a big part of the research process when brands look to launch new products or make changes to existing ones. Consumer expert Dr Sara Jaeger tells us about the benefits and the limitations of these tests and business consultant Samuel West talks us through some of the most well know failures in food. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: [email protected] Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Hannah Mullane (Image: a woman blindfolded, sat in front of a pizza. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
Published 09/13