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About the Event

Welcome to
Tasting the Tree of Life: Exploring Biodiversity through Cuisine

At this one-of-kind event, balance your diet in a new way! Sample a savory BBQ jackfruit sandwich! Try crunching a cricket! Or sink your teeth into alligator sausage at our Tasting Bar!

These foods stretch across distant branches of The Tree of Life. The Tree of Life organizes living things, including many that you eat, using branches to show relationships. It’s like a family tree; scientists use the Tree to trace the history of species living today back through time. By moving along the branches of the Tree, we can visualize and describe the relatedness of all living and fossil organisms.

For instance, the healthy bacteria in your kombucha and the chicken in your pot-stickers may seem like unlikely relatives, but they both evolved from an ancestor that dates back over a billion years! As you sample flavors of the day, look for the Tree symbol at each station to see how the diversity of your meal changes branch by branch.

Join us for Tasting the Tree of Life where you will have the opportunity to sample some new tastes alongside familiar favorites while learning about biodiversity and relatedness of your food!


What will you learn?  At Tasting the Tree of Life we invite you to…

  • Taste biodiversity and connect your favorite cuisine to lineages of life.
  • Navigate the Tree of Life and the relationships among its branches through your meal.
  • Learn about evolutionary processes that affect your diet.
  • Observe how humans have impacted the biodiversity of food.
  • Explore Tree of Life research ongoing at TCNJ.


How to engage and explore.

Tasting the Tree of Life is both a campus-wide meal event and a resource for exploring the biodiversity and relatedness of our food. The meal will be held on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, while the website will be available long after the meal. Here you can further explore the science behind each of the meals created for this event and learn more about each ingredient from a tree perspective to gain an appreciation of the evolution and relatedness of our food.


Schedule of events for February 28, 2017

Meal Event
11:00 am – 7:00 pm  |  The Atrium at Eickhoff

11:00 am – 3 :00pm  –  Enjoy the Diverse Tasting Bar
11 :00 am – 12:15 pm  –  Join the Keynote Speaker

Keynote Lecture
12:30–1:30 pm |  Mayo Concert Hall

Evolving Food:  Exploring Food Biodiversity Across the Tree of Life
Dr. Nyree Zerega, Botanist and Evolutionary Biologist
Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden

How did this event come together?

This unique event is a collaboration of TCNJ’s School of Science, Department of Biology, and Dining Services.  Tasting the Tree of Life would not have been possible without the creative ideas, significant work, and passion of many people and offices.  A full list of those who contributed is here .


Click on a Meal Theme to get started!