The Food Programme

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For the Soviet agricultural programme, see Food Programme.
The Food Programme
Genre Documentary-style narration
Running time 30 mins (Sundays at 12.30)
Country of origin UK
Home station Radio 4
Hosted by Sheila Dillon
Original release 30 September 1979 – present
Website The Food Programme
Podcast Podcasts

The Food Programme is a BBC Radio 4 programme investigating and celebrating good food, founded by Derek Cooper and currently presented by Sheila Dillon. Sheila Dillon is the normal presenter of the programme, but the programme is, on occasion, presented by a different presenter - for example, the programme presented on 27 May 2012, which was about breakfast, was presented by Tim Hayward.

It is a programme about food production, consumption and quality rather than a cookery programme with recipes. It looks at the food industry (usually that of Britain) at the macroscopic level. Apart from recent Jamie Oliver campaigns and the output of Jimmy Doherty, there are few programmes (except Farming Today) that do this. Farming Today covers the upstream section of the British food industry and The Food Programme covers the downstream section.


It began being broadcast in 1979. It was initially broadcast at 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon, after which there was The World This Weekend. It is still broadcast at this time, and is repeated the following day (i.e. on Monday afternoon) at 3:30.

Supermarkets are where most British people buy food, and influence our eating habits


Programmes are usually devoted to discussion of a single topic, from a consumer angle, such as:

  • Topical issues related to food, such as institutional cookery or dealing with food waste;
  • A specific food item, such as a particular fruit or traditional dish;
  • Food of a certain geographical area or of certain ethnic peoples;
  • Health issues in relation to food.

Sometimes, the theme of a programme may fit into several of the above categories. For example, the programme broadcast on 14 and 15 August 2011 dealt with institutional policies to improve the diets of people in Scotland so as to make their diets more salubrious, a topic which is at once a topical issue related to food, a health issue related to food and a topic relating to the diet of people in a certain geographical group.

All the most recent programmes are now available indefinitely at the Radio 4 website to listen again.


The show hosts the annual BBC Radio Food and Farming Awards, and in so doing has been praised by Charles, Prince of Wales as a "national institution".[1] For example, Bob Kennard won "Best Campaigner" in 2009.

The Food Programme, which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in November 2009,[2] has won multiple UK radio awards.[3][4]

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