Dan Saladino looks at ideas that could make an impact on our food future featuring America's Impossible Burger, a Sardinian maggot infested cheese and mussels being grown in downtown Copenhagen.
Most people are aware of the challenges that lie ahead linked to predictions of population growth peaking at 9bn by 2050 but who is coming up with ideas of how we can feed more people with a finite amount of land, water and other resources? Dan looks at three ideas that provide an insight into work underway to find solutions.
The expert on the science of cooking Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, tells the story of The Impossible Burger, a decade long endeavour, based in California, to find a plant based replica of beef and burger patties. Impossible Foods was founded by a bio-chemist Professor Patrick Brown. Because he was approaching the problem of rising global meat consumption from outside of the food industry he was forced to ask some very basic questions, most important of which was "why does meat taste like meat"? One of the answers Pat Brown discovered was a molecule called heme. He also knew heme could be found in plants. The outcome of years of work and millions of dollars of investment is The Impossible Burger. It's aimed not at vegetarians or vegans but meat lovers and has been designed to have the meaty, bloody juiciness of a real burger. Harold McGee describes the science behind the burger and the experience of eating one.
By the way, listen out for the traditional Sardinian music "Su Cuntrattu de Seneghe" performed by Antonio Maria Cubadda who is from Seneghe town.
The next future food story has its origins in Sardinia and a cheese called Casu Marzu. As the cheese ferments a fly called the Cheese Skipper is attracted by the aromas being released and lays its eggs inside the cheese. The larvae then hatch and start to digest the proteins and turn a hard textured cheese into a soft one. The cheese is then eaten while the wriggling maggots are still alive within the cheese. A researcher working for the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation's Edible Insect project, Afton Halloran went in search of the cheese as a rare example of a European food involving edible insects. In Sardinia she met a chef Roberto Flore . They eventually married and since, have travelled the world in search of other examples of edible insects that could provide a clue to future foods. They tell Dan the story of the cheese and the conclusions they've reached so far when it comes to the potential of insects in feeding the world.
The final story comes from Copenhagen where Joachim Hjer is attempting to get people in the city to grown their own mussels in the heart of the city.
In the studio with Dan is Dr Morgaine Gaye, a "Food Futurologist" who explains which of the three stories she believes will be the one to watch in 2018.
Presented and produced by Dan Saladino.
The BBC Food & Farming Awards 2018: The Search Begins...
Where are the cooks changing the lives of their communities? Which food shops or markets make shopping a more unique experience? Who is making the UK a more delicious place through food and drink?
Rick Stein, Giorgio Locatelli, Angela Hartnett, Yotam Ottolenghi and this year's head judge Andi Oliver join Sheila Dillon to launch 2018's search for the best in UK food, drink and farming; the BBC Food & Farming Awards 2018. Sheila celebrates the impact of previous award winners and reveals the expert panel of judges who'll crown the Food and Farming Awards 'Class of 2018'. But it all begins with your nominations...
Presented by Sheila Dillon
Produced by Clare Salisbury
NB. The BBC Food & Farming Awards will open for public nominations on Sunday 14th January for 2 weeks, closing on Monday 29th January. Details can be found at bbc.co.uk/foodawards.
The sudden proliferation of porridge is there for all to see, across the country. Café chains like Pret, Starbucks, McDonalds; instant tubs on offer in your local supermarket; on the train, even. Sheila Dillon explores the current fashion for porridge, and meets the "porridge pioneers" who have ridden the sticky porridge wave and created booming porridge businesses. She eats breakfast with Alex Healy Hutchinson, founder of the Covent Garden porridge restaurant 26 Grains; she tours the Edinburgh factory of Stoats Oats, a business which started from a mobile porridge van at rock festivals and is now on track for a turnover of £10 million. She hears from contestants from all over the world at this year's Golden Spurtle International Porridge Championship, and she talks to the Harvard scientist who published the largest study about the health benefits of porridge. (Yes it certainly is good for you.) Finally, back in her kitchen Sheila convenes her own porridge championship with Jamaican chef Levi Roots, Scandinavian chef Trine Hahnemann and Scottish chef Shirley Spear. Whose porridge will taste best? And which Bob Marley song has a verse about cooking porridge?
The Champagne Underground
Champagne sceptic Dan Saladino travels to the French region in search of the mavericks of fizz. These wine producers are part of a movement that's causing many to re-evaluate the world's most celebrated bubbles.
For many, including Dan, champagne is a drink purely of fun and celebration, a glass of bubbles most often enjoyed standing up; popping a cork has played a part in countless moments and memories of joy. But to others, it's also increasingly being treated as a serious wine, that as with the world's best bottles, can offer a sense of place, and that behind the fizz champagne can also be a wine of "terroir".
Dan is taken on a road trip through the Champagne region to meet a movement of small scale, vineyard driven "grower champagnes" by award winning wine writer Dan Keeling of the magazine Noble Rot. Influenced by the approach more often found in Burgundy and Bordeaux they're using specific vineyards to produce great wines that just happen to have bubbles.
As wine merchant Robert Walters, author of Bursting Bubbles: A Secret History of Champagne and The Rise of the Great Growers explains in the programme champagne was a product of the scientific and industrial revolutions.
Initially an unwanted accident in winemaking in the 18th century, this sparkling wine became a popular novelty feature across Europe. However it would take 200 years to master the bubbles.
The complex process of secondary fermentation of wine in bottles needed a huge amount of technical innovation and capital investment. From stronger glass bottles to muselet (the wire cage that helps to hold the cork in under great pressure), better understanding of fermentation and skills such as riddling, disgorgement and dosage all needed to be mastered and funded. This explains why champagne production fell under the control of the big houses, the "Grand Marques" e.g. Krug, Dom Perignon and Bollinger. These brands, also known as negociant houses, typically buy in grapes and wine from thousands of growers throughout the Champagne region and then make a blend in their house style.
Dan and Dan visit Krug, one of the most prestigious Grand Marques, to hear how this model works.
Meanwhile, from humble beginnings in the 1990s, a small group of growers have taken a different approach. They've decided to stop selling their grapes to the negociant houses and produce their own champagnes that are very much the product of their vineyards. Dan Keeling takes Dan on a tour of some of the best "grower champagnes" to see if this can convert a bubble sceptic into a lover of fizz.
Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.
Bursting Bubbles: A Secret History of Champagne and The Rise of the Great Growers - Robert Walters.
Champagne: The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers and Terroirs of the Iconic Region - Peter Liem.
Sheila Dillon's Christmas Dinner
Sheila Dillon invites some special guests, friends old and new, to come and share a festive meal.
Before they start to arrive, Nigel Slater drops by to help Sheila prepare. Each visitor will bring a dish, or a drink, that for them captures something unique of the flavours and spirit of the season.
Knocking on Sheila's door are: Giorgio Locatelli, Angela Hartnett, Anna Jones, Pete Brown, Neil Borthwick and Yotam Ottolenghi.
Presenter: Sheila Dillon
Producer: Rich Ward.