Qimin Yaoshu: Lessons for Today from 5th Century China


Mara Jane King
IE Hospitality, Director of Fermentation

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Mara has spent her 20+ year career as a food professional learning, practicing and sharing knowledge around Good Food. In 2011 she co-founded Ozuké, a fermented foods company that distributes nationally in the US. In 2017 Mara helped to produce a series of short films on Southwestern Chinese fermentation practices with Sandor Katz and Mattia Sacco Botto, and is currently working on a book about Chinese fermentation practices. In October of 2021 she joined IE Hospitality, an impact driven Colorado based restaurant group and grain mill, as Director of Fermentation. She is excited to infuse her passion for  the traditional arts to enliven and amplify the restaurant group's fermentation and zero waste programs.

Qimin Yaoshu ("Essential Arts for the People's Welfare"), an agricultural treatise first published in 540 CE, details in 92 chapters how a 5th/6th century estate in North China would have been managed.  Beyond its value as a working history for agricultural practices, the Qimin Yaoshu contains numerous recipes for cooking, fermentation and other preservation practices including the first complete recipes for making Qu, or what has become more widely known today as Koji. Join Mara King in a deep dive into the Qimin Yaoshu. What does it mean for a food system to have an agricultural guide? Delving in to the recipes in the Qimin Yaoshu, what do these guides for creating fermented foods from 5th Century China teach us about building robust and low waste systems today?