Archive interviews reveal Britain's food history

A project by the British Library to document changes in Britain's food culture has been completed.

A project by the British Library and archive organisation National Life Stories to document changes in Britain's food culture has been completed with nearly 300 interviews with people in the food industry collated in a sound archive.

Food: From Source to Salespoint charts the changes that have taken place in food within living memory. Since 1997, British Library researchers have carried out hundreds of life history interviews with farmers, large retailers, cooks, food campaigners and consumers.

From a vivid account of the first UK Chinese restaurants, to a supermarket buyer reflecting on the ethics of eating meat, to a description by food writer Claudia Roden about the importance of maintaining food traditions for immigrant communities, the archive contains a wealth of first-hand descriptions of UK food culture from the 1920s to the present day.

A educational website for children featuring some of the interviews has also been set up. Food Stories is aimed primarily at 12-18 year olds and features over 40 audio extracts taken from Food: From Source to Salespoint interviews.

Dr Polly Russell, British Library food researcher, said: "Food Stories is a timely resource, responding to current concerns about food. Within living memory food production and consumption have changed dramatically. Food today is central to key debates about public health, the environment, animal welfare, ethical sourcing and cultural identity. Through the voices of food consumers, entrepreneurs, chefs, cookery writers, and food industry workers, Food Stories engages directly with these live issues. The Food Stories website and Food: From Source to Salespoint archive will be vital resources for anyone wanting to know about how their food gets from farm to fork."

My Account


Most read


For the third year running, a grain fed cow won the World Steak Challenge. What do you think produces the best beef?