Prince Charles addresses 'The Future of Food'
May 4th, 2011
12:00 PM ET
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Just five days after his eldest son Prince William married Catherine Middleton in front of more than two billion people, Prince Charles delivered the keynote speech at "The Future of Food" conference at Georgetown University.

"It certainly makes for a change from making embarrassing speeches for my eldest son and wedding receptions and such," the prince joked.

His Royal Highness has been a longtime public advocate of sustainable and organic agriculture. He maintains organic gardens at Highgrove Estate, Clarence House and Birkhall residence, penned "The Elements of Organic Gardening" book, as well as narrated the "Harmony" documentary that addresses the global warming crisis and sustainable development.

His Royal Highness said, "the world is gradually waking up to the fact that creating sustainable food systems will become paramount in the future because of the challenges facing food production."

Citing the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of "sustainability," the prince questioned the industrialized food system that "deeply depends on fossil fuels and chemical treatments" and urged world food producers to instead "nurture the community of small holders and family farmers."

"The way we have done things up to now is no longer as viable as they once appeared to be," the prince said.

To achieve a sustainable model, he proposed: “it must be a mixed approach, one where animal waste is recycled and organic waste is composted to build the soil’s fertility. One where antibiotics are only used on animals to treat illnesses, not deployed in prophylactic doses to prevent them, and where those animals are fed on grass-based regimes as nature actually intended."

"We have to put nature back at the heart of the equation," Charles added.

While the prince recognized changing the food landscape requires "some very brave steps," he remained optimistic and couldn't "help but feel hopeful when large corporations like Walmart start local sourcing of food and stock their shelves with sustainable produce."

The "Future of Food" conference will also address the growing problem of food insecurity, the role of sustainable agriculture in protecting the environment and how to maintain an adequate supply of healthy food at affordable prices.

During his three-day Washington visit, Prince Charles also visited Common Good City Farm, an urban farm that supplies fresh food to low-income D.C. residents. The Prince of Wales is also scheduled to meet with President Obama later today.

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Chris

    Charles' plans are a recipe for Malthusian disaster. His unwillingness to accept the advances of modern science (while simultaneously accepting the advances of premodern science, namely domesticated plants) means that we will not be able to increase, or even maintain, our current yield per acre. As the world's population balloons, this will mean mass starvation, mainly in Africa, while Europeans and Americans eat calories that were produced inefficiently.

    May 20, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  2. Staceyann C. Dolenti

    See, I knew I like Prince Charles for a reason.
    Staceyann Dolenti

    May 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  3. Robert

    @ Lee,

    May I ask, who in your opinion, is allowed to advise us about food security?

    Prince Charles is privileged yes, but he appears not to live the life of excess that so many younger royals and far too many celebrities embrace. I think it is admirable that he has chosen to divert some of his not inconsiderable funds towards researching alternative methods of agriculture and food production.

    I really don't care what background people come from, it is down to what they choose to do with what they have been given that matters – far too many – rich, poor and middle class – choose to be mediocre, or develop a sense of undeserved entitlement – the world must owe them something – but they never contribute anything positive.

    Yes, Prince Charles might have a life and bank balance we can only dream of, but at least he has chosen to do something meaningful with his wealth and status – that is admirable and should be applauded, not derided...

    May 6, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • Patrick

      I had the finest sustainable red wine and the most delicious pimento cheese sandwich on organic wheat bread while vacationing in Spain.

      May 6, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  4. Bruce French

    Food Plants International database documents 23,600 food plant species allowing a more sustainable, ecologically sound approach to food production to develop. See also

    May 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  5. Snowbunny

    Prince Charles looks like he's trying to sneak a fart....

    May 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  6. Lee

    I admire Charles for what he's done for organic farming but am so tired of these pampered people offering ordinary people advice.

    May 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  7. Robert

    The success of his organic approach at Highgrove in particular proves that it is possible to farm largescale on an organic platform that benefits both the environment and humans. However it does take courage to abandon a dependency on chemicals...

    May 5, 2011 at 7:59 am |
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