Prince Charles Wows Crowd at Sustainable Agriculture Conference

By doing what he loves, Prince Charles brings much needed interest to sustainable agriculture.

By , Columnist

Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

Prince Charles can stop complaining that no one takes him seriously. His recent keynote speech at the Washington, D.C. Future of Food conference brought rave reviews as it was broadcast live on the Web.

Far from being royalists, it's doubtful most of the Future of Food crowd had been up at 4 a.m. the week before to watch Prince William's wedding. Charles surprised the sustainable agriculture mavens, who were listening politely to the Prince, sandwiched between the author of Fast Food Nation and sustainable living luminary Wendell Berry.

Prince Charles.jpgPrince Charles knocked their organic cotton socks off with his compelling summary of the human, cultural and economic costs of conventional farming methods. Wrapping up with a plea for leadership by the United States, the Prince's speech triggered an immediate reaction on Twitter, with calls for the speech to be required reading for every schoolchild in America -- and one wag who said he was startled to have a Brit lecture Americans on good food.

After his rousing speech, Prince Charles met with President Obama. The Prince is a vocal opponent of genetically modified (GMO) food, and activists hoped he would carry the message to the Oval Office. The White House is internationally famous for the organic kitchen garden started by Michelle Obama in 2009, but the administration's recent approval of Monsanto's GMO sugar beets, and the FDA's proposal that Monsanto assess its own environmental impact have led to speculation that the kitchen garden is a smokescreen. There was no public announcement about a GMO discussion between the two men.

After a three-day tour that included a visit to a community garden, His Royal Greenness returned home to his organic farm at Highgrove. On a private jet. Oops, for the carbon footprint.

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Charlotte Germane dishes the dirt on gardening in newsletters, radio shows, newspapers, and blogs. Follow her on Twitter to get the latest trowel-full of news. She live-blogged the Royal Wedding for The Morton Report and has series of royalty columns here.

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