GOODING — The final evening of the Speaker Night Series will feature Denyée Matthews presenting "The Story of Food" at 7 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Gooding County Historical Society Museum, 273 Euskadi Lane, Gooding.
Where in the world did the plants we find on our plates come from? What were the people like in the Neolithic Age who domesticated wild varieties of wheat, corn, grapes, potatoes, chocolate and vanilla? Matthews will take you on a tour of the world and tell the fascinating story of where our food originates, the domestication process, the biological consequences of changing a diet from wild foods and ridiculous historical vignettes that will shock you.
Matthews is an anthropologist/geographer and has always loved food. Although born and educated in California, she spent summers with her grandparents in rural Michigan contemplating the meaning of corn. On one fateful afternoon as a youngster, Matthews' grandfather gave the devastating news that the endless fields of corn were not sweet corn, but rather industrialized corn. “Wait, what? All this corn is inedible?” she cried.
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There began Matthews life-long quest to research the origins of agriculture, domesticated plants, biological and ecological consequences of early agriculture and cultural transformation of society from the Neolithic Age to the contemporary. She is fascinated by how the people took wild plants, domesticated them and developed a complex civilization. Then it gets really interesting — the exceptions to this story.
Matthews joined the College of Southern Idaho faculty in 2018 in the anthropology and geography programs after teaching in southern California and, most recently, in Michigan.