This post is written by Mairead Reilly. Reilly is a Boston native and a sophomore at Georgetown University, majoring in Arabic. A lifelong foodie, she supports the sustainable food movement by volunteering at an organic farm in the summer and frequenting D.C.’s many farmers markets.
The food industry got the royal treatment Wednesday morning when HRH The Prince of Wales, a longtime supporter of sustainability in the food industry, delivered the keynote address at The Future of Food conference at Georgetown University. The conference also featured experts from all sectors of the industry, joining to discuss feasible paths to sustainable agricultural practices in America and globally.
In his remarks, Prince Charles outlined the obstacles to this goal and proposed a number of solutions, local and broad-based:
- Nature does it best. The best agricultural practices, he asserted, are those that closely mimic natural processes. Prince Charles expressed disbelief that “an industrial system deeply dependent on fossil fuels and chemical treatments is promoted as viable, while a much less damaging one is rubbished.”
- Isolating the problem of sustainability won’t work. Throughout his address, Prince Charles underscored the interrelatedness of the food industry with the global economy, environmental issues, the depletion of natural resources and population growth, among others, citing a “reluctance to recognize” these connections and incorporate them into solutions.
- The food industry economy must “account for sustainability.” Currently, consumer food prices don’t accurately reflect the cost to the environment of the production system. This inconsistency could be combated by what Prince Charles termed “a recalibration” of federal farm subsidies: providing economic incentives for sustainable farming practices.
- Agriculture over agri-industry. Emphasizing the importance of agriculture to local economies, he suggested that decentralizing food production and distribution will not only make a global food crisis less likely but also revive a respect for and attention to food that is lost when it is anonymous and distant.
A cogent outline of the global state of sustainability today, Prince Charles’ remarks addressed the multifaceted nature of the problems and proposed articulate, if idealistic, paths forward. The conference continues all afternoon with a number of panels and an address from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; follow updates on Twitter with #eatwell.
Photo credit: Mairead Reilly