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An Origin Story

I. LOVE. FOOD. No surprise there.

I was always that nerdy food kid -- spending her evenings cooking with her family, constantly asking when the next meal was, and reviewing grilled cheeses and pizza with the best of them. After all, I wanted to be a chef. And to be a good chef, you have to know what good food is. For me, good food has changed its definitions through the years. From thinking about taste to rights to access... and back again.

Despite growing up as a vegetarian, I didn't give all that much thought to the ways that food showed up on my plate. In high school, I started learning more about the animal rights movement and about cultural differences. In college, I focused on labor and food access. I fell in love with sociology and anthropology. Though I took every food course I possible could, I never really saw food and my academic path aligning. Much to my surprise -- I no longer wanted to be a chef; I wanted to be an academic.

Yet still, food was a source of wonder to me. Sprinkled into my days in undergrad, food was a source of joy and stress, of comfort and friendship, and of planning and homesickness. The more I learned about the food system -- tidbits casually included in my classes -- the more I wondered about why the food system was the way that it was. Why did we have such decadent language for describing a taste, but it's difficult to convey personal associations with it. Why did the food system seem to hurt some and benefit others? Why was food 'academic-lite' when its a topic that everyone on the planet engages with everyday?

The idea of creating a food museum first materialized when brainstorming events for a club in college. Consumed with the passion of undergrad, my friend and I wanted to host an interactive performance that would highlight the roles of gender, race, class, environment, politics, religion, science, and health in food and food politics. We sought to inspire discussion, debate, and an increased understanding of our differences. We wanted to change the world. Or, at least, our friends. Yet we both were baffled by how to create something engaging that would do justice to all of these topics.

As we reflected on the interconnectedness of food with social justice issues, I was struck by the fact that there was no single place to learn about the origins, distinctions, connections, and consumption of food.

Why wasn’t there a place to learn about food?

The moment I voiced it, I knew: a food museum. Food was an increasingly hot topic in the news and social media, of course there should be a place to explore trends and history, politics and religion, wars and cooperatives. I decided in that moment: I wanted to create a food museum.

In my classes, I continued to wonder about the food system and food politics. About food justice. About sustainability. About land sovereignty. About ethics. About personal preferences. About cultural traditions.

And I wondered: How many other people were confused by this daunting thing referred to as THE FOOD SYSTEM? How many also saw gray spaces in what we decide to eat and what we decide to leave? Why do we make those choices? I wondered about the people who are curious about why they should even care about food. How many are curious about food from other places or other times? How many aren't curious, but might be.

I decided to create a food museum in 2016. It has now been four years since that exciting night when I first saw a food museum as the future for myself. The goal informed my American Studies focus and drove my applications to graduate school. After delving into the intricacies of food in Chatham University’s Masters of Food Studies program, my culminating graduate thesis explored the history and reception of food in museums with the professional objective of developing a nonprofit food museum. I moved home, to Colorado, in 2019 and got started.


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