Harriet Friedmann

Harriet Friedmann, Professor Emerita, Univ of Toronto, Food Systems Analyst

Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 2:30-3:30 pm, an ASA Zoom Webinar*

For the past several decades the United States and other industrialized nations have been producing food using a linear production model that consists of taking natural resources—soil, water and seeds—to grow food using large amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers that damage and deplete natural resources. Coupled with an inefficient food distribution system that causes significant food waste, our current system is unsustainable in the long run. 

Problems caused by this system are economic, social and environmental. Economic problems consist of non-profitable farms’ growing the same crops year after year and not contributing added value to the economy. Social problems include farm workers’ not able to earn a living wage, and environmental problems incude damage to soil, water, plants and animals due to the use of toxic substances: chemicals and hormones. Food is contaminated by these practices and is thus potentially harmful to consumers.

Professor Friedmann will explore these issues historically and ecologically. Emerging from environmental historian Alfred Crosby’s analysis of the “Columbian exchange” of people, plants and animals that began in 1500, her talk will raise such questions as what is “native” and what “invasive”? How have different ways of knowing and relating to ecosystems emerged, interacted, and changed? A key topic will be the dynamics of bio-cultural landscapes as joint products of humans and nature. Professor Friedmann looks forward to a vigorous discussion of these issues.   Watching the excellent documentary “Kiss the Soil” on Netflix would give depth to your experience of the lecture.

Harriet Friedmann received her PhD in Rural Sociology and World Systems from Harvard in 1977.  She taught courses in International Studies, and in Geography and Planning, at the University of Toronto, focusing on “food regimes,” an interdisciplinary approach that concentrates on the historical nature of food and farming and the possible future of “foodgetting.”

She has received numerous awards and published a number of influential articles. Since retiring in 2012, she has kept busy as a food system analyst, lecturer and writer. 

*For access to the Zoom webinar, please write, info@arizonasenioracademy.org.

Written by Roxy Mitchem-Horn, Academy Village Volunteer 

Jan 27: “What is a Sustainable Food System?”