“Fed,” hosted by Dr. Chris Van Tulleken, is a freshly launched food podcast for BBC Radio 4. It delves into the intricate web of influences that determine what lands on our plates. In its inaugural series, “Planet Chicken,” Dr. Chris delves into the tale of one of the most widely consumed meats on the planet. The aim is to uncover the truth behind our excessive consumption of it, and the implications for the birds, ourselves, and the environment.
In the past century, chicken consumption has surged dramatically. But what are the reasons behind this surge? And what are the repercussions? From tracing the origins of large-scale industrial chicken production to unveiling the unexpected environmental impacts of high-quality welfare farming, this eight-part series exposes the obscured reality behind the global food system. It unravels the ethical dilemmas it presents and demonstrates how this colossal unseen system influences our everyday food choices.
If there’s one thing Chris is certain about, it’s distinguishing what he should and shouldn’t consume. He’s well-versed in the hazards of heavily processed foods, and concurrently advocates for a return to basics – unprocessed, whole foods with easily identifiable ingredients, devoid of enigmatic additives and harmful fillers.
However, Chris has recently found himself fielding more questions from neighbours, passersby, and even government officials. This has highlighted a significant gap in his food knowledge. While he comprehends what transpires in our bodies once we’ve savoured that delectable, gravy-soaked chicken dinner, what about everything that precedes it? Where does it come from, how was it raised, and how was it processed? Can he ascertain the toll the journey from farm to fork exacts on the animal, the environment, and its nutritional value? This series investigates how and why chicken attained such pervasive popularity and ponders what that narrative reveals about economics, politics, our society, and our own selves.
In a world where we’re subtly swayed by advertising and price tags at every turn, and where every food choice carries some form of cost – how much do any of us truly understand, or desire to understand, about the consequences of our dining choices?
Dr. Chris Van Tulleken remarks, “We have a dependency on chicken. It stands as the most consumed meat globally, making it the ideal subject to comprehend our food system in all its vast and captivating complexity. My expertise lies in understanding how food impacts us post-consumption, so I sought to fathom the forces that dictate what we eat and how they influence us and our planet.”
Dr Chris Van Tulleken says “We are addicted to chicken. It’s the most consumed meat on the planet and so it’s the perfect food to understand our food system in all its vast, fascinating complexity. My expertise is in how food affects us once it passes our lips so I wanted to understand what forces shape what we eat and how they affect us and the planet.”
Commissioning editor Daniel Clarke says “The story of how chicken got big brings in politics and economics and business and ethics as well as consumer tastes and nutrition – and is a completely fascinating way of exploring the big forces that shape what we eat. At a time when many people are reconsidering how their eating habits might impact the environment, it’s important to shine a light on the past, present and future of our global food industry.”
Produced by Emily Knight and Lucy Taylor
Executive Editor: Martin Smith
“Fed – with Dr. Chris Van Tulleken” commences on BBC Radio 4 on Monday, 30th October at 11 am and can be caught up on BBC Sounds.