Last May, just days after his son William’s eagerly anticipated marriage to Kate Middleton, HRH Prince Charles flew to Washington D.C. to give a speech at the Future of Food Conference, in which he eloquently summed up the challenges facing the world in the decades ahead. Environmentalist and long-time Meatless Monday supporter Laurie David was in the audience that day and immediately set out to convince the Prince – and Rodale Press – that an essay adaptation of the speech would make a great small book. Today, that little book is out in print and called The Prince’s Speech: On the Future of Food along with a supporting website from the GRACE Communications Foundation that helps people take action for a more sustainable future.
“It was truly impressive to see Prince Charles use his considerable clout to promote a vision for a more ecologically enlightened food system.” said Ms. David, “He has been living and breathing these issues for decades.”
Prince Charles made a forceful case that addressing issues in food system needs to be a global priority. Current production methods are depleting natural resources like water, soil and fossil fuels, while simultaneously leaving billions overweight or underfed. Simply put, our food system must strive to “include the maintenance of public health, the safeguarding of rural employment, the protection of the environment, and contribute to the overall quality of life.”
Nowhere is this more apparent than with our current levels of meat consumption. As noted in the Prince’s speech, production contributes to the use of fossil fuels, as “meat is processed in vast factories and then transported great distances before being sold,” and uses vast amounts of water:
“In a country like the United States a fifth of all grain production is dependent upon irrigation. For every pound of beef produced in the industrial system, it takes 2,000 gallons of water. That is a lot of water, and there is plenty of evidence that the Earth cannot kept up with that demand.”
This use of resources and complications on public health will only be exacerbated as more countries move towards a Western diet. Currently, over two billion people worldwide are either hungry or undernourished, while over a billion people are overweight or obese. “It is an increasingly insane picture,” states HRH, “in one way or another, half the world finds itself on the wrong side of the food equation.”
The website, OntheFutureofFood.org offers additional resources and steps to help consumers take action, including the recommendation of a Meatless Monday. The campaign is highlighted as a way for readers to “make sustainable food choices” that protect the natural environment and public health. Meatless Monday can help achieve this goal by reducing fossil fuel use, water waste and the risk of many chronic, preventable illnesses.
In his speech, Prince Charles shares that “the world is gradually waking up to the fact that creating sustainable food systems will become paramount in the future.” To learn more about our current system and explore options for a greener future, pick up The Prince’s Speech: On the Future of Food, in bookstores or online through OnTheFutureofFood.org.