Across the world, as fruits ripen, teams of pickers set out across the fields. Without them, produce would be left to rot and farms profits would plummet.
But in many countries, population shifts and changes to immigration laws have left farmers struggling to find enough people to do the work. The effect has been particularly pronounced in the US where President Trump has cracked down on immigration, and the UK with its plans to leave the EU.
Enter the robots. Over the past few years, interest and investment in machines that can pick fruit and vegetables that are usually harvested by humans, have been ramping up.
Emily Thomas asks whether we should welcome these new developments. Picking fruit is low paid, low-skilled and physically demanding work, and exploitation in the industry is well-documented. But it’s also a source of income that many depend on, and the main source of employment in some parts of the world.
Plus, if we do let machines do the job, what are the implications for the environment, and how our food looks and tastes?
(Picture: Man reaches forward to pick an apple from a tree. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)
How to date a vegan
How can you have a successful relationship with someone whose eating habits you find repulsive, infuriating, even morally abhorrent? What do you do when your wife and mother are locked in a fierce battle over what you eat, when your long term partner insists on eating sandwiches in bed, or when you’re in love with a vegan but like nothing better than a chicken teriyaki?
As part of Crossing Divides, a BBC season bringing people together in a fragmented world, Emily Thomas meets three couples who are strongly divided when it comes to their food preferences, and asks them to divulge how they handle it.
As economies develop and our eating habits become ever more individualised and with ever more choice, is food becoming the ultimate passion killer?
And are arguments about food ever really just about food, or do they signify a deeper incompatibility?
Plus, do couples that eat together stay together? And does it matter whether they are sharing the same dish?
(Image: A woman and a man disagree about meat Image credit: Getty Images)
How to cook for a megastar
What do the most famous names in film, sport and politics eat for dinner, and what does it say about who they really are? Three private chefs give us the ultimate insight into the lives of the rich and famous - after all, what's more exposing than what and how we choose to eat?
Emily Thomas hears about the Premiership footballer who wanted to helicopter a chef to his home to make him and his girlfriend oven chips, the politician who had a romantic meal with not one, but three beautiful young women, and the Hollywood star who would only eat what she could squeeze into half of a small plastic cup.
How do you even become a private chef, and how much money can you make? And what happens when the person you are cooking for is not someone you want to pander to - a politician whose policies you can’t abide, or a celebrity whose private behaviour makes you uncomfortable?
Emily speaks to Charlotte Leventis, the London-based founder and executive chef of Extravaganza Food; Kwame Amfor, founder of Biishville, a Ghanaian catering company; and Kathleen Schaffer, the founder and creative director of Schaffer LA. Between them they’ve cooked for A-listers including Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Idris Elba, Eddie Murphy, David Beckham and Kate Beckinsale.
(Picture: Kate Beckinsale, David Beckham and Idris Elba. Credit: Getty/BBC)
Down on the farm: Suicide, stress and farmers
Farming has some of the highest suicide rates of any profession in many parts of the world. Emily Thomas explores why depression and stress amongst farmers is a global problem that is thought to be on the rise.
It can be an incredibly tough business and many farmers struggle to make ends meet. But aside from financial pressures, are there other aspects of agricultural work and life that could contribute to mental illness?
Farmers in Australia explain why social and physical isolation, along with a culture of stoicism and strength, could be contributing to the problem, especially amongst men. And a specialist in farm succession in the US state of Oregon explains why family pressures and the tricky business of inheritance can cause enormous stress, and even lead people to take their own lives. Plus, we hear how social media and criticism of farmers over climate change and animal welfare might be adding to the problem.
But there are solutions - we hear how mindfulness, governments, and even farm animals themselves can be the key to escaping depression.
For advice and support on the issues raised in this programme, and details of help available where you live, visit www.befrienders.org
(Picture: A farmer looking out over his fields. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
Ken Hom: My life in five dishes
Ken Hom is a Chinese-American cook who became famous for introducing Chinese cooking to the British public through a BBC TV series in the early 1980s. Since then he has written almost 40 books, sold around eight million woks, and become regarded as an authority on Chinese cuisine.
Emily Thomas visits the 70-year-old in his Paris flat to hear about his life told through five memorable dishes. He describes his impoverished childhood in Chicago’s Chinatown, from using his mother’s packed lunches to barter for better treatment at school, to working in a kitchen as an 11-year-old – a job that would put him off the restaurant business for life. Ken describes the dishes only served to Americans in a 1960s Chinese restaurant, and re-enacts the nerve wracking screen test at the BBC 40 years ago, that was to change his life. Ken also explains what he thinks matters most in the food world today, why he has always kept his personal life, private, and how his early childhood experiences fed an entrepreneurial streak that would last his entire life.
(Picture: Ken Hom. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)