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The Food Programme


Investigating every aspect of the food we eat

Investigating every aspect of the food we eat


London, United Kingdom




Investigating every aspect of the food we eat




The Great Food Reset?

Dan Saladino finds out why a UN summit to transform the global food system has become so controversial. It has generated 2500 ideas for change but also a boycott by protesters. In 2019 the UN's Secretary General António Guterres highlighted ways in which the global food system was breaking down: hundreds of millions of people going hungry, billions more overweight or obese and tonnes of food being wasted. These problems were also obstacles in the way of reaching the 2030 target for the...


Plate of the Nation: Second Serving

Could we kick-start a major transformation of our food system, in just three years? That's the ambition of the National Food Strategy, the first independent review of our food policy in nearly 75 years, commissioned by the government in 2019 and authored by Henry Dimbleby - who published the second and final part of the report this week. Food-related problems have been stacking up in the UK for a while: inequality, poor diets, a boom in costly bariatric diseases, the environmental impact of...


Drinking Culture: The women calling out sexism in the alcohol industry

Over the past year, women working in different parts of the drinks industry have been sharing their stories and experiences to try to change the way women are treated. Most recently people working in craft brewing have been sharing their stories on social media - saying enough is enough. In this episode, Jaega Wise speaks to some of those about how we have got here - and what needs to change. She meets Charlotte Cook, an experienced brewer who says the most important thing now is to believe...


Unpacking the Great British Picnic

In a country where weather is notoriously fickle, how has the picnic become such a beloved institution? Jaega Wise rolls out a blanket and invites a group of al fresco aficionados to share their picnicking expertise over a spot of lunch outdoors. Joining her in the picturesque setting of Windsor Great Park on the edge of Berkshire are Robert Szewczyk - head chef at Cumberland Lodge, the park's residential conference centre, which provides picnic lunches for the famous Ascot races nearby;...


Cyrus Todiwala: A Life Through Food

From Mumbai childhood to pioneering London chef, Mr Todiwala's Life Through Food; a story involving the legendary dish Bombay Duck and an important connection with Freddie Mercury. After years spent cooking in India, first at the prestigious Taj Mahal hotel and then in Goa, Cyrus Todiwala moved to London with his wife Pervin and created one of the most influential south Asian restaurants in the UK, Café Spice Namaste. With an emphasis on authentic regional classics including lamb dhaansaak...


The Medical Field: Why student doctors are getting out on farms

The Food Programme first met Iain Broadley and Ally Jaffee in 2017, when they were studying medicine in Bristol. The pair saw a disconnect between the rise of diet-related diseases, and the training they received around nutrition - with some students getting as little as eight hours of compulsory nutrition education during their entire time at medical school. So Ally and Iain founded Nutritank, an organisation championing better nutritional education for healthcare professionals, which...


Eat Your Art Out: How Art Makes Us Eat

Eating with our eyes is no new concept, but can visual art itself inspire or alter the way we eat? and can food be used to help more people appreciate art? Jaega Wise meets artist, curator and gastronomy enthusiast Cedar Lewisohn to see his collection of artist's cookbooks, and hears how influential they have been. At Tate Modern, the idea of wanting to eat like an artist has been taken a step further with the restaurant offering menus inspired by exhibitions. Head chef, Jon Atashroo tells...


Tom Kerridge: A Life Through Food

Tom Kerridge is probably best known as the first chef in the UK to be awarded two prestigious Michelin stars for food served in a pub, not even a year after opening 'The Hand and Flowers' in Marlow in Buckinghamshire in 2005. Then he was in his early thirties; Known, in the business, for his hard work ethic and hard partying. Today, he's given up the booze and the partying, but as Sheila Dillon finds, he's as driven as ever with a string of restaurants, a food festival company, a catering...


India's Covid Crisis: The Food Story

Dan Saladino looks at covid's impact on food in India and the heroic efforts underway to feed communities. Lockdowns and job losses have disrupted access to food in this country of 1.4 billion people. A further 400,000 covid cases are being reported on a daily basis and 300,000 deaths have been recorded so far. For much of the world the pandemic has primarily been seen as a health crisis, accompanied by significant economic pressures. In India however, the impact on the food system has been...


Socially Distanced Dining: Indoor restaurants reopen again

As hospitality businesses in most parts of the UK are allowed to resume serving customers indoors this week, Leyla Kazim heads to Padstow to meet a couple who have moved their restaurant out of town in order to adapt to the new rules. Prawn on the Lawn in Padstow is a fishmonger with a small restaurant, which can typically fit around 22 diners, but only 12 with social distancing. Owners Rick and Katie Toogood have now relocated the restaurant into a marquee on a nearby farm, where all the...


Pure umami: should we learn to love MSG?

Monosodium Glutamate is probably one of the most contentious ingredients in modern food. Increasingly there have been calls to tackle the stigma attached to it especially as this has been linked to Chinese restaurants and people with East Asian heritage. In this programme Leyla Kazim aims to demystify MSG. She looks into where it came from, what it is and how it became so demonised. Professor Lisa Methven from the University of Reading explains the taste science behind how and why we like...


1971: A year that changed food forever?

Dan Saladino asks if the year 1971 was a turning point for how the world eats? It was a year of contrasts: McDonalds increased the portion sizes of the beef burger it served with the launch of the Quarter Pounder, meanwhile one of the best selling books of 1971 was full of vegetarian recipes, 'Diet for a Small Planet' by Frances Moore Lappe, which argued hunger could be eliminated from the world if we stopped eating meat and embraced plant-based diets. In the UK the food industry was...


The Joy of Heat

The chilli revolution of the past decade has made the UK a nation of chilli-jam lovers, and windowsill spice-growers. But our desire for the fiery kick of heat-giving food goes back centuries. What is it about us that makes us crave the pain and pleasure of chilli, wasabi, and horseradish? In this programme Sheila Dillon investigates our love for the hot stuff, speaking to chefs, growers, and researchers who are taking heat to new, extravagant heights. Presented by Sheila Dillon Produced in...


A Nominations Celebration

The BBC Food and Farming Awards are back for their 20th edition, ready to celebrate the people across the UK who are changing lives for the better, through food and drink. Marking the official opening of nominations, Sheila Dillon chats to this year's head judge, chef Angela Hartnett, about how the hospitality industry's coped over the past year - and the brand new awards categories up for grabs. Because although it's been a time of incredible stress and hardship for many in the industry,...


Lab-grown meat: How long before it's on a menu near you?

The first lab-grown beef burger was cooked and eaten in London in 2013. Since then more than 15 types of meat have been re-created by food scientists - including lamb, duck, lobster and even kangaroo. Last year, Singapore became the first country in the world to approve the sale of a cultured chicken nugget - so how far away are we in the UK from seeing cultured meat on the menu? The companies producing lab-grown meat say it is the answer to many of the world's problems; deforestation,...


The Urban Growing Revolution

Planting and growing food has had a massive boost during the pandemic - and that hasn't been limited to those with gardens. Right across the country, people have been making the most of balconies, rooftops, even window boxes to get their green-fingered fix, as increasing numbers of us enjoy the benefits of interacting with nature and having a hand in producing our own food. Hot on the heels of her own spring planting project, Leyla Kazim explores stories of food being grown in cities: from...


The Magic of Mussels (And Their Troubled Trade)

Dan Saladino finds out how Brexit could wreck plans to turn the mussel into a mainstream food. They're good for our health and the environment so why are producers facing ruin? From their base in Lyme Bay in South Devon Nicki and John Holmyard grow mussels out at sea. Their pioneering farm, once completed, will be the largest of its kind in European waters, capable of producing ten thousand tonnes of mussels each year. Since January however, they haven't been able to harvest the shellfish...


Food, James Bond’s food

We don’t often see James Bond eating in the films, but in the novel food is almost as important as espionage, cocktails, sex, villains and travel. As many await the release of the new Bond film, we want to take your taste buds on a journey, to the flavours that were so unimaginably exotic when these books were written in the 1950s and 60s. Tom Jaine, former restaurateur and editor of The Good Food Guide, came of age when the Bond books were written. He remembers sneaking a copy of Casino...


Food in Lockdown: One Year On

A year after the UK was first put into lockdown, Sheila Dillon catches up with some of those who have been keeping the nation fed. If you listened to news reports, you might have thought getting food in lockdown was all about supermarkets and delivery slots, but as we have been hearing during the past year, it has been quite a bit more complicated than that. Coronavirus and lockdown has reset our minds to local and opened our eyes to how widespread hunger is in Britain. In this episode,...


The Barrel Effect: Why Oak casks have stood the test of time.

Brewer Jaega Wise looks into the history of the oak barrel, and hears how despite their shape, sizes and names having barely changed in hundreds of years, their use for flavouring drinks really has. There are an estimated 25 million casks in Scotland, mostly filled with Scotch whisky. Although their contents could not be more Scottish, the casks themselves are generally not. We find out why most in fact originate in the United States, and from one State in particular.. Kentucky. Jaega speaks...