I’ve always been a royal watcher, although Prince William is usually the prince that holds the biggest draw for me. But I do have a soft spot for Charles, as I feel like his particular brand of genteel, slightly dotty concern for the environment is often misunderstood and maligned (See also: Talking to his plants). But it turns out that Prince Charles‘ ideas are finally jibing with that of the mainstream. At the recent Langenburg Forum in Germany, the prince slammed the current modes of worldwide food production and called for a more local and sustainable model.
Just take a look at some of these awesome quotes from his speech:
“It may appear that things are well. Big global corporations may appear to be prospering out of operating on a global monocultural scale, but, as I hope you have seen, if you drill down into what is actually happening, things are not so healthy.
“I am talking here about obvious things like the vitality of the soil and local ecosystems, the quality and availability of fresh water and so on, but also about less obvious things, like local employment and people’s health. It is, as I fear you know only too well, a complex business.”
“The aggressive search for cheaper food has been described as a ‘drive to the bottom’, which I am afraid is taking the farmers with it. They are being driven into the ground by the prices they are forced to expect for their produce and this has led to some very worrying shortcuts. It has also led to a very destructive effect on farming. We are losing farmers fast. Young people do not want to go into such an unrewarding profession.”
He also spoke about public health and the destructive effect Big Food has on everything from tainted meat to obesity (with a special and totally deserved dig at the United States):
“In the UK, as elsewhere – but particularly, I think, in the US – the consequences of this are ever more apparent in the deteriorating state of our public health.”
“We all know that type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related conditions are rapidly on the increase. The public bill for dealing with these is already massive and I am told it could become completely unaffordable if we do not see a shift in emphasis. And, of course, it will be cities that carry the heaviest part of that burden.”
Dang. And he’s totally right, too, at least as far as I’m concerned. The prince went on to make a lot of seemingly good points about economics and sustainability (I say seemingly because I’m a health blogger, not an economist, so I’m not super knowledgeable about al of these issues). If you’d like to learn more, this article on Rodale News has a good summary and breakdown of his ideas.
Regardless of the fact that I’m not really qualified to understand all the nuances of his argument, I think it’s quite valuable that a public figure like Prince Charles is speaking publicly about the many problems with our current agricultural system, as well as advocating for a local, organic model. His interest in this issue, and willingness to draw attention to it, might be able to do a lot in terms of raising awareness and changing minds. I’ll leave you with one last quote from the prince:
“The price of apparently cheap food is costing nothing less than the Earth.”