Investigating every aspect of the food we eat
Cookbooks of 2021
28:56What are the books that the presenters of Radio 4's The Food Programme have been relishing this year? You are about to find out. In this episode, Sheila, Dan, Jaega and Leyla get together at 'Books for Cooks' in London's Notting Hill to share their favourite titles; the ones that have made them think, that have inspired them to get creative, and have simply filled them with joy. We also catch up with The Bookseller's Tom Tivnan to hear how publications and sales have been this year, food writer Signe Johansen shares her knowledge and experiences of ghost-writing in the cookbook world, and Eric Treuille, who first opened 'Books for Cooks' in 1983 shares with the team a recipe from his book of 2021. Produced by Natalie Donovan in Bristol.
Best Shop or Market of the Year: Meet the Finalists
27:42Leyla Kazim visits 2021’s Best Shop or Market finalists in the 20th BBC Food and Farming Awards – a food co-op, rural farm shop and city market which are going the extra mile to support local food production and their communities. We meet the teams behind these three outstanding retailers, which are providing boundary-pushing models for the future by trying to create alternative food networks. Nearly 20 years ago Jed and Emma set about rearing their own meat to supply them and their friends and family as an experiment after becoming increasingly frustrated with the quality of the meat available from the supermarkets. This has now developed into a farm shop, Blue Tin Produce, selling their own free range pork & rare breed Dexter beef alongside produce from the surrounding Chiltern Hills including fresh English veg, their free range eggs, farmhouse baking, jams, jellies, chutneys and many other goods. Falmouth Food Co-op started as a food hub selling groceries with the aim of making good food available to all and supporting local non-industrial farmers. This developed into a kitchen to celebrate their community and feed those who need help. They have recently started a new project – Love Land, a community field where they aiming to grow their own food sustainably and get local people to get more involved in the growing of their food. Headed by chef and grower Joe Fennerty, Food Circle York runs a food market for local producers all specialising in organic, regenerative and sustainable food production, and facilitates direct links between producer and consumers. Joe’s aim is to create a viable alternative to the current food system. In the nominations, people called Joe a catalyst and inspiration for change in York. Presented by Leyla Kazim and produced by Sophie Anton for BBC Audio in Bristol.
COP26: The Case for Cattle and Pigs.
28:41Less but better? With the COP26 climate summit underway Dan Saladino looks at how meat and dairy can play a positive role for the future of people and planet. Produced by Dan Saladino.
Veg Invention: The stories of new kinds of fruit and vegetables
28:49Seed breeders spend whole careers in search of that perfect fruit or vegetable, and some even come up with their own completely new designs. Think Tenderstem, Cotton Candy grapes, or a new type of cauliflower that's just started being sold: Caulishoots. In this programme, Leyla Kazim finds out what goes into creating these new varieties, what breeders, growers and supermarket buyers are looking for, and how they end up on our plates. She meets veg-inventor Jamie Claxton from Tozer Seeds, who came up with the Kalette (a cross between a brussel sprout and kale), while Ross Geach from Padstow Kitchen Garden explains why he enjoys experimenting with new varieties and getting them introduced to diners at Jack Stein's restaurants. Leyla also looks to the US where chef Dan Barber has set up an organic seed company to bring breeders, chefs and farmers together to design new, better varieties. While Lane Selman in Portland, Oregon tells us how her 'Culinary Breeding Network' is working to both give breeders more feedback, and is educating the public about the new types of fruit and veg on offer. Presented by Leyla Kazim Produced in Bristol by Natalie Donovan
A Personnel Problem: What's the solution to hospitality's staffing crisis?
28:42The hospitality sector has a problem: it just can't get the staff. Businesses from bars to hotels are facing a massive worker shortage, as job vacancies in the sector hit their highest levels since records began. Last month, in an open letter to the government, various hospitality professionals warned that the sector was “close to imploding” because of acute labour shortages. And the cracks are showing, as outlets still struggling post-lockdown are forced to resort to a skeleton staff: reducing opening hours or even closing altogether. While some blame the pandemic and others point to a drop in EU workers after Brexit, figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest the industry was struggling to find and retain staff even before these events. So what’s at the heart of this crisis – and more importantly, how can we fix it? Sheila Dillon assembles a panel of hospitality insiders to find out: talking to Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the national trade organisation UKHospitality; Sarah John, the founder and director of Boss Brewing, a craft brewery based in Swansea; and Niall McKenna, chef and owner of James Street & Co restaurant group in Belfast, comprising two restaurants and a cookery school. We also hear from chef and restaurateur Angela Hartnett on how kitchen culture is changing for the better; and Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn - co-founders of the Hang Fire Southern Kitchen in Barry, Wales - tell us about their decision to close permanently because of staff shortages. Presented by Sheila Dillon Produced by Lucy Taylor in Bristol
Follow the Money: Investor power and the Future of Food
28:43Dan Saladino finds out how groups of influential investors are using the trillions of dollars they control to shape the future of food. It's argued that it is their decisions, not those of governments which will determine if we can solve the biggest challenges we're facing, from climate change to obesity. These funds, including our savings and pensions, are invested in the global food system. This money makes it possible for fast-food chains to expand, for supermarkets to grow and farming businesses to survive. How that money is allocated, and which food businesses are now seen as carrying too much risk, is an increasingly important factor in deciding how we will farm and eat in the future. Dan Saladino meets Jeremy Coller, a Chief Investment Officer who controls billions of dollars of assets about the power of investors. In 2016, Coller has set up the FAIRR Initiative (Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return), a source of data and analysis of business performance in the meat industry. Coller, a vegetarian, argues that future global risks such as pandemics and climate change are being increased by factory farming. Instead of waiting for governments to act, he believes networks of investors, and their decisions on meat based businesses (from processors to burger chains), entirely based on risk, will transform the food system. Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.
Best Food Producer of the Year: Meet the Finalists
28:55What does it take to bring home the title of Best Food Producer in the Food and Farming Awards 2021? This year, Sheila Dillon and chef Angela Hartnett visit a local nose-to-tail butchery, a community cooperative farm and an enterprise employing ex-offenders to make delicious pasties and pies. H.M.Pasties was set up by Lee Wakeham to ‘bring out the good inside’ by employing ex-offenders like himself to make and sell handmade Cornish-style pasties and baked goods to customers across Greater Manchester while adding real social benefit to the community. Locally sourced meat, nose-to-tail eating and artisanal butchery are the terms that define Lizzy Douglas’s The Black Pig, whose philosophy is to use only naturally-reared, free range meat to support the local economy and supply customers with fantastic quality Kentish produce. Growing with Grace is a farm dedicated to supplying sustainably grown produce to local people and businesses. Growing in nearly two acres of glasshouses, they pride themselves on producing the best quality organic vegetables, salad, and fruits in the region using a community supported agriculture model. Presented by Sheila Dillon Produced by Robbie Armstrong
Oz Clarke: A Life Through Wine
28:04Oz Clarke, the popular man of wine, has enjoyed success in wine writing and broadcasting for four decades. First appearing on our screens on BBC2’s Food and Drink in the 1980s, he helped lead a wine drinking revolution in Britain. Visiting Oz to share a glass or two from his collection, Jaega Wise hears about his varied career and lifelong passion for wine, as well as how he’s never been afraid of introducing controversy into the wine world. Oz also shares his thoughts on the natural wine movement and how the industry will need to adapt to climate change. We also hear from fellow wine critic Jancis Robinson on Oz’s impact on our wine drinking culture; and we visit winemaker Emma Rice at Hattingley Valley to hear how the English wine industry is faring, which Oz has long been a cheerleader for. Presented by Jaega Wise and produced by Sophie Anton for BBC Audio in Bristol
Prue Leith: A Life Through Food
28:23She might be best known as the colourfully clad host of the Great British Bake Off, but Dame Prue Leith's accomplishments during her six decades in the food industry are vast and varied. She's enjoyed success as a cook, restaurateur, businesswoman, broadcaster, campaigner, food writer and novelist; and in conversation with Sheila Dillon, on a balmy summer afternoon on the terrace of her Cotswolds home, Prue shares the lessons she's learned from her career so far. We also hear from Prue's niece Peta Leith, a pastry chef and food writer with whom she recently collaborated on the book 'The Vegetarian Kitchen' - and from Dr Rupy Aujla, the NHS GP who started the Culinary Medicine UK programme teaching doctors to cook, and creator of the podcast 'The Doctor's Kitchen' linking better health to good cooking and eating, who is Prue's co-host on the television series ‘Cook Clever, Waste Less’. Presented by Sheila Dillon Produced by Lucy Taylor in Bristol
High Spirits: A story of vodka
28:16Vodka is a spirit with a rich cultural history in a host of European countries including Russia and Poland, where it’s been distilled for centuries. In the west, it's traditionally been considered either a base for other flavours, or something to be knocked back as quickly as possible. But the recent craft spirits boom has seen more distillers experimenting with vodka, showcasing the subtle flavours of base ingredients or trying out quirky botanical additions; and now, a growing vodka fan club is eager to prove it has more to offer than some might think… Jaega Wise sets out to learn more about the most neutral of spirits - visiting 2021 BBC Food and Farming Awards finalist Black Cow Vodka in Dorset to hear about distilling with milk, and trying some food pairings courtesy of local chef and restaurateur Mark Hix. She also visits Ognisko Polskie, one of London's oldest Polish clubs, for a masterclass in tasting with Ognisko Restaurant director Jan Woronieki, also the founder of vodka brand Kavka; and Veronika Karlova, a drinks writer and consultant, chair judge for the World Vodka Awards and founder of GirlsDrinkVodka.com. We also hear stories of slightly different vodka ventures from Arbikie Distillery in Scotland and Bakon Vodka in the United States – and get the mixologist's perspective, courtesy of Norwegian bartender Monica Berg: a founder of the non-profit industry discussion hub P(OUR) and co-owner of the London bar and restaurant Tayēr + Elementary. Presented by Jaega Wise Produced by Lucy Taylor in Bristol