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Review: The Prince's Speech

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I received an advance copy of The Prince's Speech at TEDxManhattan 2012. It snagged my curiosity for a variety of reasons. I have been involved in efforts to change the food system since the '70's, although we didn't call it "changing the food system" at the time. Back then, our lifestyle was known as "Hippies in the Woods." Raising our own vegetables, free-range chickens, and supercharged eggs were key components, as was composting and a non-dogmatic form of vegetarianism. I sent regular letters to "Mother Earth News." It was like corresponding with my buddies.

But mostly I was curious about the book because Prince Charles and I are contemporaries, born at the leading edge of the baby boom. My childhood seemed light years removed from his. News stories periodically kept me updated on his progress through life. No doubt the news was "managed."

So I took particular delight in a late teenage story and photo focused on the Prince taking a flier off of his polo pony. Big deal, I thought. I've taken headers from higher than that and climbed back up the tree each time. Of course, I secretly envied his lifestyle. Something inside told me that Prince Charles must be living his life in a pressure cooker, while I had plenty of elbow room and no one watching over my shoulder.

I first learned of Prince Charles' interest in architecture when I stumbled upon a quote attributed to him with regard to a newly completed addition to the British Library. Supposedly he said, "It looks like a carbuncle on the face of an old friend."

Fabulous, I thought. At least he has the courage to say what he thinks. I was delighted. Seeing the photos, I had been having similar thoughts. Architectural critics were clearly in The Emperor's New Clothes mode, trying to say nice things. But the Prince had the balls to utter the truth. Royal Family-wise, this sort of plain speech doesn't seem to trickle down under normal circumstance. The only thing I could conclude was the Prince must feel strongly about the topic of design, particularly when it goes awry.

The Prince's Speech leaves no doubt that Prince Charles also feels strongly about food, industrial (oil-based) agriculture, farmers, sustainability and, most importantly, us. He pulls no punches in covering the range of issues we face together, what needs to happen if we are to feed ourselves in a healthful way over the coming decades, and what we can do to assure the long term health of our planet. He is unrelenting in his directness.

I am reminded of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Lincoln clearly understood that in terms of creating impact, "less is more." While other speakers rambled on for hours, Lincoln simply stood up and stated the obvious.

Prince Charles has honored us and the cause of healthy nutrition for all by not mincing words. Rather, he clearly articulates what we all know to be the truth; we have to change our food system because our current way of doing business isn't sustainable. It is unhealthy for us, and it is certainly degrading our life support system.

The Prince's Speech is a book to share with those you love. No doubt you will recognize the unvarnished truth in what Prince Charles has to say.