Derek Cooper presents The Food Programme

Aural digest

Catherine Fellows talks to broadeasters Derek (‘ooper and Ken Sy'kora about making food sound as good as it tastes.

In a reeent edition ol Radio 4‘s eley‘en-y ear old staple. '/'/1e l'ood l’roemmme. presenter l)erek (‘ooper ehaired a diseussiott on the eontentious issue oI baby milk and 'lhird \Vorld misintormation. He then ineorporated the ultimate epieurean sandw ieh. the history ot this tibiqtlitotlssitaels. the proeedures oI prtiduetion—Iine bread buttering. the stringent standards ol the British Sandw ieh .‘\ssoeiation. the New eastle stottie. the Yorkshire pork with dripping. \ltkss latest ehieken tils'lsa. the I 'S deli‘s biggest ey'er pastrami and rye . . and somehow managed to w ind up at one o‘eloek in l’ranee. tongue poised


oy'er the inimitable and ernotiye baguette.

l'eeling some trepidation beliore a man ot sueh gargantuan appetite. I asked ( ~ooper about the thinking behind The hunt Programme. ‘In the "Us l was working tor 'l'omormies ll‘or/r/ at the same time as writing about tood tor Hie (mu-(Iran) he explains in his deep burgundy y'oiee. ‘I began to put together ideas tor a programme that dealt with t'ood in its broadest eeonomieandsoeial eontext; in et’t'eet. doing tor Iood what ’l'omorron \ ll'or/r/ was doing lor seienee.’

'I'he proieet materialised as a BBC Seotland'l'V produetion whieh (‘ooper presented tor two years with Donnie \Iaeleod and Ian I.eeming belore he was approaehed by Radio 4. "Hie l‘iHH/ Programme is an iny‘estigatiy'e programme] he explains. “\Ve are the only ones who are (H ertly politieal. \Ve are not atraid to eontront the impaet ot trans-nationals on the third World. the problems oI ( i.»\l’ and the ('ommon :\grieultural l’oliey and so on. We w ere talking about the spate BSIC. salmonella. long betore they ey entually' hit the headlines ol the tabloids.~

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Radio Scotland‘s Ken Sykora prepares tora new series etThe Eater's Digest

But it would be wrong to suggest that The l’oml Programme is unremittingly earnest. A reeent edition dealt lightheartedly' with the subjeet ot aphrodisiaes and prompted s'ey'eral eomplaints. y‘lt would be quite wrong.‘ argues (‘ooper in response. ‘to abandon all

when he leay'es the reeording studio. Seotland. with its appalling heart disease reeord. is the lows Ior his latest et'torts in his eapaeity' as president ot'the(iuildotl‘ood \Vriters. He speaks with the authority ot an insider his mother eomes trom the Isle ot' Skye where he spends mueh time and he has written seyeral books about Seoteh \Vhisky and the Islands. ‘\\'e haye to eony'inee parliamentary law makers that we are t'aeing a major national disaster in Seotland.‘ he says. ‘You only haye to wateh the kids stutt'ing themsely'es with ehips andsnaeks outside Seottish sehoolstosee that the message has not got through to the maiority'otthe population.

thoughts oI eseellenee in either growing Iood or the taste ot Iood. beeause millions are malnourished. iust as it would haye been wrong to stop orehestras play ing at the height ol the lilitl. I only wish good Iood didn‘t eost so mueh money .'

It seems ironie that this sell-appointed ehampion ot tairness in lood should be aeeused oI t'lippaney. ‘l nless you are enthusiastie about w hat you are doing. it doesn‘t eome aerossf he says. ‘II the thing bores you rigid it eertainly shows in your yoiee.‘ l was pretty eony ineed l eould hear his eommitment. as he rey’ealed that tor hint. the medium w as y ery mueh seeondary to the message. "It would

Rather than toree-teeding people health toods. ('ooper ady'oeates drastie steps imposed Irom aboy e. In l’inland. whieh onee had a higher instanee ot heart disease than Seotland. but has signitieantly improy'ed its statisties. the diet oI'one area w as eompletely transtormed by ehanging w hat was ay ailable in the shops,

(‘ooper stresses the e\'tent to \\ hieh eonsumers are at the merey ol the

be as trustrating to listen to one ot .\Iadhur.lattrey'sdemonstrationson the radio.‘ he says. ‘as it would be to bear a eommentary on tireworks you w ant to see w hat is happening. But w e hay e other eggs to try .‘ (‘ooper‘s eampaign does not stop

produeers. ‘lta buneh ot .‘stl’s were told to load tip their shopping trolleys with healthy Iood. they


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