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The Food Chain

A Science and Medicine podcast
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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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Can you have your plate and eat it?
The food industry has a big problem with packaging, but what if you could simply eat your wrapper or coffee cup instead of throwing it away? Could packaging made from food ingredients prevent our oceans and landfill sites from being clogged with waste, much of it plastic? Could it still preserve and protect our food from damage or spoiling? And does it taste any good? Emily Thomas speaks to two companies developing edible products - one producing plates, cups and bowls, the other making a protective coating for fruit -to find out whether edible packaging is really a clever solution to some serious environmental problems, or just a marketing gimmick. And a food futurologist explains why we're all likely to see more food-based packaging on our supermarket shelves, and how that could change the way we eat and shop. (Picture: A woman pretending to eat a plate. Credit: Getty/BBC)
How dangerous is your food delivery?
How dangerous is your takeaway? If you ever order food through an online delivery service like UberEats, DoorDash, or Deliveroo, you probably think only about the meal that will soon will arrive at your door - will it arrive quickly, and piping hot? You possibly don’t think much about the person delivering it, let alone whether they have put themselves at risk in getting it to you. These companies allow customers to order food from a range of restaurants, and then provide a delivery service - by assigning jobs to drivers who are usually self-employed. Across the world, their popularity is soaring. But one hidden aspect of their growth is the dangers faced by their growing legions of delivery drivers, from road accidents, to intimidation, to violence. The Food Chain has seen dozens of reports from all over the world, and spoken to numerous people who work with these companies, all suggesting that the safety of takeaway delivery drivers, needs closer scrutiny. Emily Thomas investigates what it is about food delivery in particular that can be so dangerous - and whether enough is being done to keep these drivers safe. Please note: This programme contains content that some may find disturbing. (Photo: Food delivery driver. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)
Will robot pickers change our fruit?
Across the world, as fruits ripen, teams of pickers set out across the fields. Without them, produce would be left to rot and farms profits would plummet. But in many countries, population shifts and changes to immigration laws have left farmers struggling to find enough people to do the work. The effect has been particularly pronounced in the US where President Trump has cracked down on immigration, and the UK with its plans to leave the EU. Enter the robots. Over the past few years, interest and investment in machines that can pick fruit and vegetables that are usually harvested by humans, have been ramping up. Emily Thomas asks whether we should welcome these new developments. Picking fruit is low paid, low-skilled and physically demanding work, and exploitation in the industry is well-documented. But it’s also a source of income that many depend on, and the main source of employment in some parts of the world. Plus, if we do let machines do the job, what are the implications for the environment, and how our food looks and tastes? (Picture: Man reaches forward to pick an apple from a tree. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)
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Podcast Details
Oct 31st, 2014
Latest Episode
Nov 7th, 2019
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
27 minutes

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