Changing the conversation about health

“We must find a more sustainable way to farm food”: HRH The Prince of Wales speaks at the ‘Food on Prescription’ conference

HRH The Prince of Wales has urged the UK’s ‘best brains’ to try and find a more sustainable approach to farming that doesn’t deplete vital soil nutrients.

Speaking in a pre-recorded film at the College of Medicine’s third food and health conference, Food on Prescription, in London on October 24th, the Prince encouraged the farming industry to use less chemicals and artificial fertilisers “to help protect the diversity of microbes within it”.

The royal told attendees: “The themes that you’re considering; farming, food and health are issues which I have taken a very close interest in for many years.

“Healthy soil and food produced in harmony with nature are important factors in keeping us well, avoiding disease and indeed in treating disease as well.”

The Prince of Wales, who attended the very first food conference in 2016, said: “Our bodies have adapted over millions of years to our environment and it seems logical that we should, wherever possible, eat food that is seasonal, locally-sourced and naturally produced, and therefore our future diet should be linked to a sustainable agro-ecological environment.”

Guy Singh-Watson, founder of the Riverford food delivery brand, talked about the importance of eating seasonally

The conference, held at the Royal Society of Medicine, featured a diverse range of lectures from speakers that included Sustainable Food Trust founder and farmer Patrick Holden, writer and researcher Tim Spector, Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson and nutrition expert Dr Zoe Harcombe.

The College of Medicine’s third annual food conference was held at the Royal Society of Medicine in central London
Dr Azeem Malhotra

Singh-Watson addressed seasonal eating and why importing food is sometimes necessary, saying the company, which began in 1987 and delivers fresh fruit, vegetables and meat direct to customers’ doors, has to import from overseas because of the UK climate.

Elsewhere, cardiologist @DrAseemMalhotra discussed the role diet plays in fighting heart disease and Jonathan Pauling from the Alexandra Rose charity discussed the fruit and veg food voucher scheme the charity operates, which enables families from socially-deprived areas to access free healthy food from local markets.

Pupils from Padiham Green Primary School, Lancashire explained their work with the Edible Explorers programme, which teaches children how to cook fresh, healthy food
The primary-age schoolchildren told the audience about their new-found love of cooking and learning about healthy food

The warmest response of the day came for a group of Lancashire primary school children who travelled down from Padiham to discuss how a programme called Edible Explorers, run by former schoolteacher Laura Sumner, was helping to prove how children love learning about and cooking healthy food.