Fri, May 06, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Prince Charles sees Obama, visits urban farm on his US tour

AFP, WASHINGTON

Prince Charles is wrapping up a US visit that has taken the heir to the British throne from an urban farm in inner-city Washington to a closed-door meeting with US President Barack Obama.

During a meeting on Wednesday, Obama thanked Prince Charles for Britain’s military contributions to the wars in Afghanistan and Libya and “warmly welcomed” his support for environmental concerns, sustainable food production and halting deforestation, the White House said.

Environmental issues were a central theme of the British royal’s three-day visit. Giving the keynote speech at a conference on the future of food, the prince warned that unsustainable farming was overtaxing nature and leading the world toward a food crisis.

“In some cases, we are pushing nature’s life-support systems so far they are struggling to cope with what we ask of them,” the long-time advocate for sustainable food production told about 700 people packed into a meeting hall at Georgetown University.

“Soils are being depleted, demand for water is growing ever more voracious and the entire system is at the mercy of an increasingly fluctuating price of oil,” he said at the “Future of Food” conference.

Charles was joined by the son of a farmer from Mexico who now advocates for farmworkers’ rights, a professional basketball player turned organic farmer, a pediatrician working to promote healthy diets for low-income families and others in calling for a change in how Americans produce and consume food.

However, the prince was the only speaker to receive a standing ovation that set the wooden Flemish-Romanesque meeting hall rumbling.

Less than 24 hours earlier, the British royal had picked his way through Common Good City Farm in the gritty LeDroit Park neighborhood of Washington. The farm seeks not only to teach city-dwellers the joys of cultivating food, but also to make fresh, healthy food more readily available to them — a step toward fighting obesity.

A third of LeDroit Park residents live in poverty, and one in five is overweight, partly because of the lack of affordable fresh produce in many US inner cities.

Obama is due to visit Britain later this month at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II — Charles’ mother.

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