Root’s Story

Root was born from a deep love for community and a belief in the power of food to tell stories, connect us to place and to each other, and build a bridge to the past.

When I realized how many other people wanted to experience food in the ways I do, I founded Root to help share what I learn and offer new ways to think about what and how we eat.  

Through my work as a chef, writer, professor, museum curator and artist, I’ve spoken to many people who I’ve spoken to crave an understanding of what they eat. They are eager to look beyond recipes to find stories, and to find connections to the past and to each other in the process. And, they’re hungry to find the connections not only to the past but between our many creative, culinary interests in the present. 

By combining traditional methods and historical research along with expansive, multi-disciplinary creative activities, I help the people I work with find magic in the everyday.

I began this business with event and research consulting, classes, and a monthly membership. Root has since grown to include robust and innovative online courses, private fermentation coaching, spectacular events, creative work with filmmakers and other creatives, and more.

Finding our food stories

The goal of each recipe I write, and each fermentation class I teach is to unlock the magic of the dishes we and our ancestors know and love. I talk a lot about the magic of the everyday, and of thinking of our food and ourselves in context. Whether it’s the transformation of sauerkraut by microbes that evolved alongside our bodies, or cooking the 1600s predecessor to modern apple pie, the world of food is full of wonder and beautiful stories just waiting to be discovered.

However, no food story exists in a vacuum, just as each food item is inherently connected to its story and the world around it. Food is inherently communal, and eating is inherently a community act, whether we’re relying on the farmers who grow our food, the drivers who transport it, or friends and family who cook and eat with us. Root was established in order to help connect these people and build community.

These food stories of the past have an impact on what we eat today, but we are also continuing to tell those stories, writing and reshaping the narratives. By knowing where our stories started, perhaps we can more intentionally consider where they’re going.

Each of us has our own food stories and our own valuable perspectives to share, which is why Root isn’t just a one way street, preaching the magic of fermentation and food history. Root is an inherently collaborative endeavor, as each class and each project we undertake is an opportunity for everyone to learn from each other.

This means we’re expanding the history of food history to include everyone we can, and that includes you.

I’m always cooking up new experiments, trying to push the envelope of what culinary writing, education, and collaboration look like to facilitate conversation, connection, and curiosity.

These include:

A weekend food waste and fermentation workshop with some of the best fermentation teachers in the country, plus a virtual version held on Instagram Live to help people stretch their food stores during early COVID shortages.

A class in using wild fermented foods to capture time and place, and using this to heal from grief as an individual and a community.

Responsive dinners: Creating menus that speak to time and place through ferments, forage, and more.

It’s an exciting journey, and I’m glad you’re along for the ride.

If you’d like to work with me, please get in touch here!

About Julia, Root’s founder

I’m an award-winning author, food historian, PhD, fermenter, artist, teacher, curator, researcher, world traveler, and of course, an avid cook. 

I’ve purposefully sought out a lot of experiences, and built up some diverse skill sets, so that I can use all of them to tackle big problems creatively and collaboratively.

Building my community, whether it’s my neighborhood, my city, the fermentation community, or within an academic discipline, is my central focus. My dedication to community and curiosity shows up across all my work, as a scholar, artist, business owner, and a teacher.

I teach classes at several universities for undergraduates and graduate students. My focus is on dynamic, collaborative classrooms that prepare students to think deeply and critically, while also thinking contextually. I use this same dynamic and interactive approach in my community classes and events. 

As a food historian, my work is rooted in the belief that food is a powerful tool for human connection and memory. This appears in my research, my teaching (both academic instruction and skills workshops), and in my latest art projects.

I earned my doctorate in Information Studies from Florida State University in 2015. Most of my research focuses on how we engage with change in various contexts, and my work cuts across several disciplinary areas in the Humanities and Social Sciences. This includes theory testing and theory building, which you can learn more about at this link.

As a food historian, I began my journey studying English and American food history, writing and publishing on Cookbooks in Early Modern England and on the history of afternoon tea. 

Since then, I have shifted my work to be more topical rather than geographic: My latest book, silver Nautilus Book Award–winning Our Fermented Lives, covers the global history of fermentation. 

You can see all my experience, and publications, on my CV.

Like the rest of my work, my food history work is part theory and part practice, and involves getting in the kitchen or getting out in the community and learning (or trying to teach others) how to make a historic dish, just as often as it involves sitting with research materials and watching the story of that dish unfold.

I’m excited to share the richness and connectivity that food has brought to my life with you, and would love to hear about your favorite food experiences. Drop me a line and let’s chat!