A deadly and highly contagious disease is sweeping across Asia, killing millions of pigs and destroying the livelihoods of millions of farming families.
African Swine Fever is not harmful to humans, but it kills infected pigs in just a few days and there is no known cure. The virus has taken hold in the world’s most densely populated pig farming region, spreading from China – home to half of the world’s pigs – to Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia, Laos and North Korea in the last year.
So can it be stopped, and if so how? Gareth Barlow speaks to three people on the front line of the fight against the disease - the woman tasked by the United Nations to eradicate it, a major food business in Thailand trying to keep it at bay, and the man who eliminated the disease from Spain more than 20 years ago.
We ask whether African Swine Fever could mean the end of small-scale pig farming in Asia, and find out how it could forever change food cultures and cuisines in a region so dominated by pork.
(Picture: Health officials spraying disinfectant on a dead pig at a farm in Hanoi, Vietnam. Credit: Manan Vatsayana/AFP/Getty Images)
When is a burger not a burger?
Vegetarian and vegan food companies are under attack for using words like ‘burger', ‘sausage’, or ‘steak’ to describe their meat-free products. The meat industry and some politicians argue such words can only be used to describe foods that came from an animal and that plant-based alternatives should come up with new names to avoid consumer confusion.
But can you really claim ownership of a word? And what’s in a name anyway – is this argument about transparency and trust or marketing and profits?
Willem Van Weede, CEO of Dutch plant-based food company Vivera argues the case with Jess Peterson, senior policy adviser at the US Cattlemen’s Association, which represents the beef industry.
Plus, language expert Carrie Gillon tells us the real origins of the word 'meat' and suggests some new names for plant-based alternatives.
The quest for black gold
How powerful can a steaming pile of rotting food be?
One third of the world’s food is lost or wasted, greenhouse emissions are warming our planet, and about a third of the world’s soil is degraded. Composting our food waste can help with all of this. But does it make economic sense and does it deserve it’s moniker ‘black gold’?
Emily Thomas meets people in the compost business to ask whether composting at scale will ever turn a profit without government money. And why, if compost is so good for the land, are farmers still so reluctant to use it?
For the compost business to thrive, people need to separate their food waste - but how can they be persuaded to do so? We hear from Seoul in South Korea, where the solution lies in a talking bin, and from Colombo in Sri Lanka, where a failure to address the problem has had devastating consequences.
(Picture: Plants growing in a pile of compost. Credit: Getty Images)
How not to run a restaurant
It’s a dream shared by many a food lover - a restaurant of their very own. A showcase for their skill and creativity. A passion that also pays the bills.
But are aspiring restaurateurs always aware of just how difficult the restaurant trade can be? Is food is the most dangerous passion to have when it comes to business?
Emily Thomas meets three cooks in Abuja, Toronto, and London, and hears how they poured heart, soul and bank balance into opening their own restaurants - before packing it all in. These stories show just how tough the business can be.
(Picture: Woman rests on chair. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)
Lunches changing lives
Millions of children in India risk being deprived of a good education because of hunger. Poverty means they often go to school on an empty stomach, making it hard for them to concentrate, and malnutrition can mean they don’t even make it to the classroom – they either cannot face the journey or need to work to buy food for their families.
But over the last 20 years Akshaya Patra has been trying to change that by ensuring almost two million children get a free school meal each day. The organisation is the world’s largest school lunch programme and it has been chosen as the winner of the The Food Chain’s Global Champion Award 2019.
In this episode we visit one of its giant kitchens in Bangalore to find out what it takes to feed that many students, and we hear from teachers and children about the impact it’s having. Plus we hear one remarkable story about how a simple meal changed a child’s life, and speak to the organisation’s boss about his plans to scale up even further.
(Picture: School children eating lunch. Credit: Akshaya Patra)