Last spring, right on the heels of one of the biggest events in his life, his son's wedding -- and with the eyes of the world upon his family -- Prince Charles came to the United States to deliver a speech at Georgetown University about the future of food.
There's nothing like sitting in an audience and getting goose bumps listening to a great visionary tell it the way it is. They say lightning doesn't strike twice, but when I heard Prince Charles's speech that day, I felt the same kind of jolt I got the first time I saw Al Gore's slide show on global warming. Gore's power point stood out because it was the clearest, most concise explanation of our climate crisis I had ever heard.
Now, another elder statesman, Prince Charles, is boldly speaking out about another crisis that we urgently need to address. With eloquent words, clarity and heartfelt passion, the prince explained, what's gone so terribly wrong with our food chain -- and what we can do to make it right.
The prince's speech was both terrifying and uplifting. Terrifying, because we really have screwed up our food system -- and our food system is, as a result, screwing us up- our health, our environment, our climate.
But the speech was ultimately uplifting because, as the prince noted, "There are alternative ways to grow our food ... which would go a very long way to resolving some of the problems we face."
It was truly impressive to see Prince Charles use his considerable clout to promote a vision for a more ecologically enlightened food system. He has been living and breathing these issues for decades, a brave public voice against massive, aggressive interests. I was so inspired that I wanted to help the prince's speech find a wider audience. Happily, the folks at Rodale Books, assisted by the Grace Foundation and Patrick Holden, shared my enthusiasm and helped publish it.
The Prince's Speech is actually more of a booklet -- just 48 pages, even counting the moving forward from Wendell Berry and an equally inspiring afterward from Will Allen and Eric Schlosser.
It's a lovely paperback with a cover that manages to evoke both Michael Pollan and Peter Rabbit (thank you, Kelly Doe). You could breeze through it on your lunch break or read it in an evening, and you'd be up to speed on all the ways you can support a saner, less fossil-fueled food chain and as Prince Charles declares, "put Nature back at the heart of the equation."
It won't be easy. But, as The Prince's Speech emphasizes, we can still do this, we do not have to continue to do things the same old way, especially since we can clearly see it is unsustainable. This booklet is truly a labor of love, so I think it's only fitting that its official publication date is Valentine's Day. As a friend said to me recently, "I like that it's being released on February 14, because it's like a love poem to the future."
Please read this booklet, share it with friends and family, tweet, talk, and blog about it, buy copies and hand them out, do whatever you can to help spread the word. Because the future of food is the future of us all. Learn more at OnTheFutureofFood.org.