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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




Madhur Jaffrey: A Legacy

40 years ago the BBC broadcast a new TV cooking series called "Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking". It was a first, and showed audiences that Indian food did not rely on curry powder, and that dishes were different depending on what region of India they originated. But that's not all, the series and Madhur Jaffrey's subsequent books (she has written more than 30) had another effect; it made her a model for two generations of women with roots in India. Today Sheila Dillon meets some of those...


Staffordshire Oatcakes – a Potteries tradition going strong

In our world of globalised food, there are few things that have remained true local specialities, and the Staffordshire oatcake is one of them. This oatmeal, yeasted pancake is an institution in Stoke-on-Trent and surrounding area, but still hardly anyone beyond the Midlands seems to have heard of them. The oatcake has a history stretching back hundreds of years as a staple food for workers of the Staffordshire Potteries – it then suffered a dip in popularity from the 1960s which led to...


SPAM: food + war + memory in a can

No other tinned meat has had the worldwide cultural impact of SPAM. Though often denigrated in this country, it is celebrated across the world particularly in the Asia-Pacific where it became integrated into food cultures after The Second World War. Jaega Wise explores this love of SPAM with Hawaiian chef Sheldon Simeon. She also meets Becky (Hanguk Hapa) in New Malden to talk about Budae Jjigae (army base stew), a dish born out of necessity, it is now a national comfort food. SPAM also saw...


Jack Monroe: A Life Through Food

Jack Monroe, the food writer and poverty campaigner sits down in her living room in Southend-on-Sea to share her 'Life Through Food' with Leyla Kazim. It has been almost a decade since Jack first made a name for herself as a blogger and food writer - documenting life as an unemployed single mum. Her blog, A Girl Called Jack (now Cooking on a Bootstrap) first focussed on local politics, but became popular when she started sharing her costed out low budget recipes. Since then, she has written...


An Easter Special

Dan Saladino hears from cooks in Palermo, Marseille and Kyiv about Easter food traditions. Produced and presented by Dan Saladino


Ukraine: The Food Dimension Part 2

Dan Saladino speaks to food suppliers and farmers in Ukraine about the impact of war. Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.


Beans Part 2: How Spain Does Beans

A few months ago, Sheila Dillon opened a glass jar of chickpeas in her kitchen. Their taste was so different from those she had been eating for years from cans, she took to social media to find out why. The story that unfolded in the comments led back to the Spanish, and their way of eating beans and other legumes. In this programme we meet the people who grow, select, process and trade beans, and hear of a culture that respects legumes, where home cooks know how to flavour them, often cook...


Beans Part 1: Are Legumes the Answer?

In the first of two programmes all about beans, Sheila Dillon asks if they could be the answer to our issues with health and global warming. We're often told how eating less meat is crucial for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy planet. In response, supermarkets and food outlets have been adding more meat-free options, and whole plant-based product ranges, which are often highly processed. So what if there was another food that we could all do with eating a lot more of, that's relatively...


The True Cost of Food

The price of food is rising alongside fuel, energy and other costs, and experts are warning that households face the biggest squeeze on disposable incomes for at least 30 years. On average the lowest income families spend twice as much on food and housing bills as the richest families, so increasing food price inflation will disproportionately affect families already struggling to get by, according to the Resolution Foundation. As millions more people are on the brink of being pushed into...


Animal-free dairy: Could this be the future of milk?

Dairy alternatives with real milk proteins but no use of cows are now becoming a reality. In the US you can now buy animal-free dairy ice cream, and around the world scientists and food technologists are aiming to create lab-cultured dairy products indistinguishable from the real thing. This is possible through precision fermentation, a process which uses genetically engineered microbes to grow the proteins in a bioreactor, which is how insulin and rennet are already produced. The proteins...


Ukraine: War in the breadbasket of the world

Dan Saladino looks at the war in Ukraine through the lens of food. Are people already going hungry? And what does conflict mean for the millions dependent on Ukrainian wheat? Fundraising for people impacted by the war is already underway; Cook for Ukraine, and, as featured in the programme there is the World Central Kitchen This week's Radio Appeal came on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee...


Scotland, a Good Food Nation?

Can Scotland become a nation where people from every walk of life ‘take pride and pleasure in the food they produce, buy, cook, serve, and eat each day’? Sheila Dillon and her Scottish producer Robbie Armstrong assess the country’s health and food system, and find out what opportunities and hurdles lie ahead as the Good Food Nation Bill is introduced to the Scottish Parliament. Sheila speaks to Scotland’s national chef Gary Maclean about the past, present and future of Scottish cuisine,...


Fresh Grounds: The Search for the World's Rarest Coffee

Dan Saladino meets the plant hunters searching for the world's lost and forgotten coffee varieties and Michael Pollan, author of This is Your Mind on Plants, explains how caffeine helped usher in the modern world. Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.


Ainsley Harriott: A Life Through Food

Ainsley Harriott joins Jaega Wise to share his 'Life Through Food' from his kitchen in South London. Ainsley is one of the UK's most recognisable TV chefs; after training at Westminster College he worked at a number of London's hotels and restaurants - including The Long Room at Lords Cricket Ground where he became head chef. In the early 90s he got his first broadcasting gigs - on BBC Radio 5, and shortly afterwards "tv came knocking". Over the past 25 years he has hosted countless...


Eco-labelling for food - what difference could it make?

Jaega Wise explores how environmental-impact labels on food and drink products could help lower the carbon footprint of the food industry. Although there’s been an increase in the number of companies using different kinds of carbon and eco labels, they still appear on a small minority of products. There are growing calls for there to be a unified system for calculating the environmental impact of food production – one that not only measures carbon emissions, but also other impacts like water...


Wassail! Wassail! A celebration of cider, orchards and song

Dan Saladino goes in search of the history, meaning and spirit of wassails and cider. In Somerset he takes part in a village wassail sung door to door and one sung in an orchard. Contributors: The Drayton village wassailers. Gerard Tucker, wassail master of ceremonies. Nell Leyshon (novelist and dramatist, play: Folk). James Crowden, author, Cider Country: How an Ancient Craft Became a Way of Life. Music: Drayton Wassail (as documented by Cecil Sharp in 1903) Tam Lin, Fairport Convention...


Angela Hartnett: A Life Through Food

In this episode Sheila Dillon is joined by a chef, restaurateur, author and campaigner, Angela Hartnett, for another in the programme’s series of Lives told through Food. Angela Hartnett is seen as an icon in the food industry - she started out learning on the job in Cambridge - and later rose up working for Gordon Ramsey, first at The Aubergine, and later at the Connaught Hotel, where she earned her first Michelin star. During that time she started to become a familiar face on British...


Keto: Diet fad or food fix?

Dan Saladino explores keto to understand the appeal of this low carb way of eating. Featuring Gary Taubes (book) The Case for Keto), GP Dr David Unwin, Anna Tebbs (The Green Chef), Prof. Mike Lean (Glasgow University), Panagiotis Kottas (KeOntrack) and Prof. Helen Cross (Great Ormond Street Hospital). Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.


Gabriella D'Cruz: Global Youth Champion

Gabriella D’Cruz, from Goa, wants to improve diets, transform livelihoods and protect the planet using an often-overlooked marine vegetable - seaweed. Ruth Alexander speaks to the 29-year-old about her big plans for the underwater crop, and her hope that it could bring lasting economic and environmental change to India’s coastal communities. Gabriella’s passion and her project’s potential saw her chosen by a panel of international judges as the winner of The Food Chain Global Youth Champion...


#FoodTok: Mastering the Art of Cooking in Three Minutes

Jaega Wise and her co-presenters start the New Year having a go on TikTok after #FoodTok raked in billions of views in 2021. What, if anything, can be learned from the app, which dishes up creator-made videos in three-minute-long bursts? The presenters are joined by TikTok Chef Poppy O'Toole, who posts as PoppyCooks to her two million followers. From turning ordinary cooks into stars, to setting off trends for kitchen gadgets, viral recipes, and #WhatIeatinaday getting millions of views,...