The older I get, and the more I believe in the power of nature and the universe, the more magic happens (fueled significantly by Hard Work). Case in point: a little book we just published called The Prince’s Speech—On the Future of Food. Get it. You will not regret it. But the magic for me is really in the story of how it came about, and that’s not in the book, it’s only in this blog.
You could say it all started with Sir Albert Howard 80 or so years ago. He wrote a book outlining the importance of healthy soil, called An Agricultural Testament, which many people read. My grandfather read it and started a farm and a magazine called Organic Gardening in 1942. Later, somewhere in England, a young prince read it and decided to give organic farming a go.
Decades later, without ever realizing there was a first book, many people wrote other books. Wendell Berry and my father wrote books. Eric Schlosser wrote Fast Food Nation. Michael Pollan wrote lots of books. And that little prince grew up to write books about his farms and gardens. Many people around the world—people like Patrick Holden—spent their lives working to get the message out that healthy food begins with healthy soil. I wrote Organic Manifesto, for which Eric was kind enough to write a foreword. That’s why he knew to call me when the grown-up Prince Charles decided to come to America and give a speech, which was sponsored by the Washington Post and delivered at Georgetown University, on “The Future of Food.”
It was a very powerful speech, incredible for its courage, clarity, and intelligence. Many of us in the room didn’t realize just how much ridiculousness there is around the political speeches we hear every day until we heard one that was true and real. I felt incredibly lucky to have heard it.
But it took the tenacious persistence of Laurie David, who as a film producer had also brought us An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, to insist that it get turned into a book. She started working to make it happen immediately afterward, which was no small task. After all, we were dealing with royal offices and palace intrigue, many famous writers, and all sorts of distractions—including a meltdown of the publishing industry and of my own editorial team at Rodale. I think it is safe to say that at least three different editors worked on this 46-page book. Most of us did this work for free, including the prince himself. Whenever there was a disagreement about anything, my focus and answer to the team was, “What does the prince want?” For all of us, the goal was to get his message out to the world in a way he would be happy with—so that perhaps the world would finally listen.
And so, we have a beautiful and small but mighty book called The Prince’s Speech—On the Future of Food. While it is not eligible to be nominated for an Oscar, it is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, BAM, IndieBound and other cool places that sell books. And I highly recommend that you read it and give it to as many people as possible. All proceeds go to The Prince’s Charities (which is explained more in the the book). We only printed a limited supply, so this first edition is a collector’s copy.
Over my decades working in book publishing, I am most proud of the books we do that really make a difference in people’s lives. They don’t always make us the most money—although, sometimes they do. They aren’t the ones that require huge advances and the management of big egos. They are just the ones that mean something important to the people who read them.
This is one of them.