Jimmy's Food Factory

Thursdays & Sundays at 7 pm ET

Show Summary

How do you make a corn flake? What’s in a cheese slice, besides cheese? Why does supermarket bread stay fresh longer than homemade? In this lively and informative series, British farmer Jimmy Doherty discovers the scientific secrets behind processed foods, from frozen peas to fizzy soft drinks.

Instant coffee. Ice cream. Individual cheese slices. Convenience foods like these are so commonplace we take them for granted. But behind every supermarket product is a wealth of scientific and technological innovation.

In this eye-opening series, British farmer and popular BBC personality Jimmy Doherty reveals the surprising – and occasionally unappetizing – secrets of food production.

Working from a makeshift science lab inside a barn, Jimmy re-creates the industrial techniques used to churn out processed food products like corn flakes, cola drinks and canned ham, with sometimes surprising results. And he visits some of Britain’s most important food-processing plants to get a firsthand look at how the big boys do it.

What are manufacturers putting into your food? And what are they taking out? Jimmy’s investigation into supermarket science will make you take a closer look at what’s inside your shopping cart.

Jimmy’s Food Factory earned a nomination for Best Lifestyle & Information Program at the 2010 Banff World Television Festival.

To learn more about Jimmy Doherty and his farm in Suffolk, England, check out www.jimmysfarm.com.


Thursday Sept. 29 & Sunday Oct. 2

What goes into making the most important meal of the day? Jimmy uses a tumble dryer, a laundry press and other unlikely tools to prepare his own corn flakes – and learns that the first step is to take out all the nutritious parts of the corn. He also risks an explosion while brewing up some homemade instant coffee, finds out how table sugar gets so white, and meets a robot that may just be the best thing that’s ever happened to milk cows.

“What’s In My Sandwich?”
Thursday Oct. 6 & Sunday Oct. 9

The sandwich: versatile, convenient – but not as simple as it seems. Why does packaged white bread stay fresh for so long? If processed cheese is only 60 percent cheese, then what’s the other 40 percent, exactly? Jimmy heads into the barn to get to the bottom of these mysteries. He also visits Wiltshire to find out how a producer of ready-bagged salad manages to keep 1.5 millon packages a week bug-free.

“From The Fridge”
Thursday Oct. 13 & Sunday Oct. 16
Even the simplest products in your refrigerator have a lot of complex science behind them. Take milk: every day, the UK produces 36 million litres – but before it reaches the supermarket, it is pasteurized and homogenized. To find out what’s involved, Jimmy replicates the modern dairy process in the barn, using a high-pressure washer, a fire extinguisher, a car jack and host of other tools. He also tries making his own sandwich spread, discovers the surprising secrets of Red Leceister cheese, and follows an egg’s journey from the hen to the grocery store.

Thursday Oct. 20 & Sunday Oct. 23
Nothing lasts forever – but manufacturers have found ways to make foods safe to eat long after they have been produced. In this episode, Jimmy discovers the secrets of food storage and preservation. In the barn, he uses dry ice and a leaf blower to produce frozen peas, and mocks up an ingenious method for making dried strawberries. He also pays a visit to the world’s biggest baked beans factory, and discovers the secret of manufacturing readymade meals that stay fresh for a week.

“Snack Foods”
Thursday Oct. 27 & Sunday Oct. 30
They’re so bad for you. So why do they taste so good? In this episode, Jimmy flirts with the most seductive of the supermarket aisle denizens: the snack foods. In the barn, he attempts to crack the secret recipe of fizzy cola, and learns that the typical soft drink contains some surprising ingredients. He also pays a visit to the world’s biggest ice cream factory, and discovers the science of creating the perfect potato chip.

“Who’s Fooling With Our Food?”
Thursday Nov. 3 & Sunday Nov. 6

If we relied on nature alone, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy many of our favourite foods all year round. In this episode, Jimmy uncovers some of the techniques food manufacturers use to get around these obstacles. He visits a salmon farm in Scotland to find out how fish can be fooled into thinking it’s summer, and discovers a trick banana suppliers use to artificially ripen the fruit so it’s ready for the supermarket. Back in the barn, he uses hypodermic needles, a cement mixer, a bicycle pump, a tin bathtub and a length of drainpipe to turn his own farm-fresh pork into square sandwich ham. Lunch, anyone?