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Editor's Note: Last May, the Prince of Wales gave a speech on sustainability at Georgetown. First, that it came from a public figure whose pronouncements must be moderate and moderated; second, because it was such a strong, specific statement of principles many of us have believed in and have been working toward for a long time; and third, because, contrary to what pretty much anyone would expect, the speech was written by, not for, him.
Two-thirds of American adults are obese or overweight, and economists from Cornell and Lehigh universities have estimated that obesity is now responsible for 17 percent of the nation's annual medical costs: about $168 billion a year.
African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites, and more likely to be poor.
And what are the potential, long-term harms of the pesticides now being sprayed on our crops?
Brain damage, lung damage, cancers of the breast, colon, lung, pancreas, and kidney, birth defects, sterility, and other ailments. It is the poor and working people in the United States who need a new, sustainable food system more than anyone else. They are exposed to the worst chemicals on the job.
He's been one of the few world leaders brave enough to say -- publicly, not just privately -- that the current system is unsustainable.
In return for that honesty the Prince has been attacked on many occasions by defenders of the status quo.Sam Fromartz was also in the audience, and, impressed, wrote this for the site a few days after the speech; Marion Nestle was there, too, and recently wrote this about the speech, which thanks to the efforts of Schlosser, Laurie David, Robert Martin, and others has just been published by Rodale Press.The full text of the speech as delivered is here, the ordering information for the book here.They are seeing how greenhouses can feed urban communities without grocery stores, how organic waste can be turned into fresh soil, how farm-raised fish and fruits and vegetables can replace hamburgers and fries as an all-American meal.And as people feel more empowered in their own communities, no matter how poor and neglected, they become better citizens; they see the connections between their choices and the impact on those around them.It is overly centralized and industrialized, overly controlled by a handful of companies, overly reliant on monocultures, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, chemical additives, genetically modified organisms, factory farms, and fossil fuels. The real costs are much too high, and they are being imposed on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the United States.Organic food, for example, isn't just better for the soil and the land.Why should anyone, his accusers ask, listen to what Prince Charles has to say about agriculture?That question has a simple answer: The Prince knows what he's talking about.Access to good, healthy food shouldn't be reserved for a privileged few. And the changes being made at the community level need to be translated into changes at the state and federal level.At the moment, the law too often favors corporate interests over the public interest.