There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.
— Martha Graham


Harriet Friedmann, PhD

Pollinator of an Emerging Mode of Human Foodgetting

 I am a food system analyst, writer and lecturer. I first entered this unknown realm in the 1970s by studying the world wheat market, which I intuited would be an intrinsically important way to understand world economy holistically, from settler farms to finance, migration, logistics and inter-state power. My PhD (Harvard, 1977) turned out to cross two unrelated fields --- Rural Sociology and World-Systems.* The first led to influential articles on farming systems (see publications) and a long, fruitful collaboration with Philip McMichael on a historical approach called food regimes. I am now exploring natural history and historical nature of food and farming.

I was also lucky to be connected with the early emergence of the pioneering Toronto Food Policy Council and its eventual embrace of city-regional food systems.** These connections happily converged with two emergent phenomena: the inter-disciplinary intellectual field of food studies*** which contributes to reconnecting social and natural sciences; and the social movements, social economy experiments, and policy initiatives at all scales, contributing to potential transformations in human relations to land, bodies, society, and governance.

I followed the food-farming thread from Sociology into the Centre for International Studies (now the Munk School of Global Affairs) and the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. I am now Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Toronto. Since retiring in 2012, I have been Visiting Professor at Agrarian, Food, and Environmental Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague (Erasmus University) and Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University in Ottawa. Recent visiting research collaborations include Sustainable Food Systems Initiative, School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan, Sustainable Places Institute, Cardiff University, UK,  Laboratoire d'Excellence des Etudes Mediterranée, Aix-Marseille University, France, CPDA (Federal Rural University, Rio de Janeiro), Brazil,  CIRAD, Montpellier, France. I will soon be Visiting Scholar at the Liu Institute of Global Affairs, University of British Columbia and Pufendorf Institute of Advanced Studies, Lund University. My main passions now are seed biodiversity,+ city food regions,** commons, resilience theory,  and exploring with others the present possibilities for food system transformations in world-ecological context++ --- what might be called emergent modes of foodgetting.

*Chair, Political Economy of the World-System Section, American Sociological Association, 1994-95, two of 40 “Most Influential Articles" in Journal of Peasant Studies 

**Now serving a third term on the Toronto Food Policy Council, Community Chair in the 1990s; Strategic Advisory Board of the International Urban Food Network; Toronto Advisory Group,  City Region Food Systems

***Lifetime Scholar Award, Canadian Association of Food Studies 2011. Present Editorial Advisory Boards: Journal of Agrarian ChangeCanadian Food StudiesFood and FoodwaysJournal of World-Systems Research, and Theory and SocietyRural Studies Books Series (SER), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and the Graduate Program in Rural Development. Past Boards: Journal of Peasant Studies, Studies in Political Economy.

+Board of Directors USC-Canada, assisting small farmers to protect diverse seeds (2011-2017); and currently Toronto Seed Library; I was deepened in this path as Review Editor (2005-07) International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IIASTD).