In May of 2011, Prince Charles gave the keynote speech at "The Future of Food" international conference at Georgetown University, and it has now been published in a little volume that packs a big punch.
His Royal Highness doesn’t mince words about the state of industrial agriculture. He offers a comprehensive guide that succinctly lays out the global food crisis, poses some serious questions and proposes some strong solutions -- all in 33 pages.
The book, The Prince's Speech: On the Future of Food (Rodale Books), features a foreword by farmer/author Wendell Berry and afterword by urban farmer Will Allen and Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser.
On hearing the Prince's speech, environmental activist Laurie David said, “It was very clear to me that this speech needed to be read by everyone who eats!”
A longtime advocate of the environment, from his International Sustainability Unit to Duchy Farms' organic foods, the Prince’s text provides a comprehensive guide that succinctly describes what has led to the global food crisis and why it needs to change:
How can we create a more sustainable approach to agriculture while recognizing those wider and important social and economic parameters — an approach that is capable of feeding the world with a global population rapidly heading for 9 billion? And can we do so amid so many competing demands on land, in an increasingly volatile climate and when levels of the planet’s biodiversity are under such threat or in serious decline?
As I see it, these pressures mean we haven’t much choice in the matter. We are going to have to take some very brave steps.
Addressing what can be done to support sustainable agriculture and feed the growing worldwide population, the Prince admits, “Questioning the conventional worldview is a risky business.” He asks what if “subsidies are linked specifically to farming practices that are more sustainable, less polluting, and of wide benefit to the public interest?”
Bob Martin of Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future explained to me that the Georgetown conference happened after the Prince of Wales brought together a group of sustainable food advocates in London.
“Prince Charles is an interesting messenger” he said about his deep knowledge and credibility on the subject, as well as hands-on involvement with his organic farm. I wondered about the reality of proposals like feed-in tariffs for U.S. farms.
“There are a couple of reasons to be optimistic,” Martin said, believing that the overuse of antibiotics is building a groundswell with reactions from medial and retail sectors. Even if Prince Charles is sounding an alarm, he believes, “The pressure is public-driven.” The issue Prince Charles addresses about the actual cost of food is being studied by the Department of Disease Control including the impact on the environment and our health. These changes are not in the too-distant future, he says, “There’s no stopping it.”
My concern is simply that we seek to produce the healthiest food possible from the healthiest environment possible -- for the long term -- and to ensure that it is affordable for ordinary consumers. - HRH the Prince of Wales