There are two episodes of Radio 4’s Food Programme that I want to highlight.
The first is Re-thinking Veganism. While it’s nice to see a national food magazine programme looking at veganism, the tone and content was definitely mixed. Having said that, it wasn’t as bad as their episode looking at Vegetarianism a while back where the presenter was astonished that vegetarians take care to add flavour to their food (no, seriously). It takes a quick look at the history of veganism and how the proportion of vegan to vegetarian businesses is increasing. We meet a couple of vegan bloggers and the people who run a successful Vegan Supermarket in Germany. And then, because you couldn’t possibly have an episode about vegans with just vegans in they interviewed a couple of near vegans. Alex Renton, a journalist, started out looking at the horsemeat scandal of earlier this year and from his investigations is seriously thinking about going vegan. The other not-really-vegan is Mark Bittman, a NY Times food writer who has started the concept of Vegan Before 6 (where you eat a plant-based diet before 6pm and then anything you like afterwards). He claims it improves his health. I’m all for anything that reduces suffering to animals, but surely they could have kept the plant-based-for-health-diet for another episode. It’s not like vegans get that much of a chance to put forward their case on a national forum. And to be honest, barring a piece on Donald Watson, the Vegan Society’s founder, the animal rights and lifestyle (it’s more than just food) of veganism didn’t get a mention. Let’s not upset the meat-eaters eh?
The other episode worth listening to is Skint Foodies. Ever since I did the $5 for 5 Days challenge, I’ve become much more aware of food poverty abroad and at home. They talk to a few food bloggers who tackle food on a very restrictive budget. Good on Jack Monroe for being very articulate on what it’s like to live on $10 for food a week and on the politics behind the causes of food poverty.
Both episodes should be available to listen to for a year.
There’s more to foodie information than books, magazines and cooking shows. There are also foodies on the radio. I have here a selection of BBC Radio programmes. They’re all available on podcasts, with the first three also being available to listen to on the BBC website. The links are there on their programme pages. These are all generalist food shows, I’ll do another post on vegetarian podcasts in the future.
Food Programme Radio 4’s serious factual food programme. It can be a bit worthy, it tends to cover one subject for the whole 30 minutes, but it is a ‘must listen’ for keeping up with food news and developments. That said when it covered vegetarian food the ‘carnivore’ presenter expressed surprise at how much taste the vegetarians were putting in their food – *eyeroll*!
Kitchen Cafe is Radio Scotland’s food magazine show. Much chattier and livelier in nature than the Food Progamme, they cover two or three subjects per programme with opinions and ideas shared between the presenters. Being based in Scotland, that’s their focus, but don’t let that put you off, most of what they talk about is applicable anywhere.
Kitchen Cabinet is a foodie panel show hosted by Jay Rayner. It’s firmly in the tradition of panel shows – a lot of fun based around a subject, in this case, food. I love Jay Rayner’s writing and he’s in his element here being witty (and occasionally silly).
These last two are only available on podcast.
Woman’s Hour: Cook the Perfect
Cook the Perfect is a ten minute slot in the venerable Woman’s Hour on Radio 4. Celebrity cooks and chefs cook a dish while being interviewed. The quality varies widely with this show and the interviewer never seems to show a huge amount of enthusiasm for food. Most interviewees seem to be there as part of the publicity for their latest book or tv show.
Cooking with Paula McIntyre
Cooking with Paula McIntyre is also a ten minute slot in a larger programme (this time Radio Ulster’s Saturday Magazine) but it is everything Cook the Perfect isn’t. Paula is out to cook good food not sell something. Her enthusiasm and competence shines through, and you can hear the chopping, hissing and bubbling as the food cooks.