Evan Fraser, Ph.D., is Director of Arrell Food Institute and a professor of Geography at the University of Guelph. Evan started thinking about agriculture and food systems while spending summers working on his grandfather’s farm in Niagara, Ontario. There, he learned that his grandmother’s success as a stockbroker was paying more of his wages than the money brought in by the u-pick strawberries and sweet corn. As such, he decided it was easier to write and talk about farming than to try to make a living selling fruits and vegetables so passed on the family farm, opting instead for grad school.
Today, Evan works to bring large and diverse teams together in order to develop strategies that balance our need to produce and distribute accessible, healthy and nutritious food while stewarding the ecosystems on which we all depend for life. He believes that it is only by building bridges between the corporate sector, government, civil society and academics that we will be able to create the food systems fit for the challenges of the 21st century.
A passionate communicator, Evan has written over 50 op-eds for a range of publications including CNN and the Guardian as well as written two popular non-fiction books about food and food security. His 2010 book, Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations, was shortlisted for the James Beard Food Literature Award. He has also co-produced/co-hosted 3 1-hour radio documentaries for CBC’s premier documentary show Ideas on the future of food and been featured in numerous other TV and radio documentaries.
As a researcher, Evan is a co-author on over 100 academic papers and book chapters, played a leadership role on teams that have raised over $100M in research funding, and mentored around 50 graduate students. He is one of Canada’s most cited social scientists working on food and sustainability and between 2010-2020 was a Canada Research Chair. Evan’s latest book, Uncertain Harvest, was co-authored with Drs. Sarah Rotz and Ian Mosby. His next book, which is being co-authored with Lenore Newman, is tentatively titled Dinner on Mars: 8 Amazing Technologies that will Change the Future of Food and should be published in 2022. Between 2014-17 he was a Fellow of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars.
Evan also sits on a number of boards that advise government, industry and charities on topics relating to food and the environment. This includes co-chairing the Canadian Food Policy Advisory Council and acting as vice-chair of the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security. In addition, other past and present board roles include: George Weston Ltd.’s Seeding Food Innovation scientific steering committee, the European Commission’s high level expert group on food system science, and Cubic Farms (a vertical farming start-up)’s scientific advisory committee. He also provides advice on environmental and social governance for the investment advisory business Tanto Capital Partners and is a member of the advisory committee for the University of the Fraser Valley’s Food and Agriculture Institute.
Evan’s web video series on “feeding nine billion” has been watched over 600,000 times, he has self-published a graphic novel called #FoodCrisis about a fictitious food crisis that hits North America in the 2020s. Evan has also created a card game about global food security that won a gold medal at the International “Serious Play” conference. The videos, the graphic novel and the card game have been pulled together in a series of teacher-friendly high school lesson plans that are used in classrooms around the world.
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