Food Research Institute

The Institute was a research and teaching department within the School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University. It was established in 1921 to investigate the production, distribution, and consumpiton of food, with a particular attention to the economic analysis of agricultural commodity and marketing systems. The Institute pioneered research into areas that later became matters of national concern: studies of Soviet agriculture and the world wheat economy, begun in the 1920s; analyses of the United States population upsurge, started in the 1940s; and investigations of the economic behavior of peasant farmers, initiated in the 1950s. In recent years, Institute faculty members extended these research interests by focusing on questions of income growth and distribution within developing countries.

In 1996, the University's administration decided to close the Institute. Although it will  soon cease to exist in real time, this website will provide a continuing presence in cyberspace.  From its beginning FRI has defined itself as "a body of cooperating scholars" concerned on a worldwide basis with issues of food production, consumption, distribution, marketing, and trade.  That "body" has expanded steadily during nearly eight decades.  The advances in computer technology make it possible to sustain FRI as a body of cooperating scholars as long as this cyberspace version serves a useful purpose.

The HISTORY section includes two essays by Bruce Johnston: "Creating Stanford's Food Research Institute: Herbert Hoover, Alonzo Taylor, Carl Alsberg, J. S. Davis, and M. K. Bennett" and "The History of the Food Research Institute as Seen Through its Publications".  Tim Josling has expressed an interest in preparing an Essay 3 focusing on recent FRI contributions related to agricultural policy and trade.We hope others will be moved to join in and recall the Institute's contributions in other areas.

The FACULTY page contains e-mail addresses for present and recent faculty.

The PUBLICATIONS page will soon include lists of FRI publications.  We have been thinking about including a few of the more seminal contributions in full-text form. Because this involves some effort, we will await expressions of interest from site viewers.

The ALUMNI section includes alphabetical and chronological lists of FRI PhDs, their thesis topics, and e-mail addresses.  Lists of alumni at the World Bank/IMF and at IFPRI and other International Agricultural Research Centers is also contemplated. We need your help in keeping the list current!! Send an e-mail to or post to the message board described below.

The MESSAGES board provides a means of exchanging current information and a development forum for exchanging information and ideas and for raising questions on issues of interest. (For viewers unaccustomed to using such boards,  click on messages for an introductory note.)