People & Things
The post quoted below was published on October 1, 2015 in the online magazine, People & Things, and we are thrilled that our founder Liz Birnbaum has received such a wonderful feature story! Read the full story here.
Meet Liz Birnbaum – Food Activist and Founder of The Curated Feast
Whether she’s talking about ancient seeds and grains or explaining the epochal significance of a painting, you can’t miss Liz Birnbaum’s passion for history and stories. Founder of The Curated Feast, Liz—a chair on her local Slow Food Santa Cruz board—seeks to combine her love of food, art and history as she tells her dinner guests the stories behind their meal. The series of didactic feasts, which range from multi-course seated dinners to more casual pop-up affairs, offers guests a unique look into historical eras through food.
“The Curated Feast is a project I’ve had simmering for about five years,” Liz explains. She had been co-teaching a class called Botanical Imperialism with her “former boss and tremendous mentor,” Glenn Adelson, director of environmental studies at Lake Forest College in Illinois (her alma mater). The class used plants as a lens to look at world history and the movement of plants in the world today, and covered everything from tea and opium to spices and corn. Once the class was over, she realized she had a multitude of food stories in her back pocket. “I kept telling them at cocktail parties. You’d have a gin and tonic, I’d launch into an explanation about the history of tonic water and imperialism. Sauerkraut on your plate and I’d share the connection to Captain James Cook and how it helped him and his crew ward off scurvy. These stories where you look at the deeper history of food really stuck with me.”