Last month, Prince Charles visited a city farm in Washington DC. This was no superficial royal good-will gesture; he has championed sustainable and organic agriculture for decades. On this trip he spoke at a conference called “The Future of Food,” where experts and citizens tackled the life-or-death issue: how will we feed ourselves as we increase our population and degrade our planet?

At one point, Prince Charles said, “We have to maintain a supply of healthy food at affordable prices when there is mounting pressure on nearly every element affecting the process. In some cases we are pushing Nature’s life-support systems so far, they are struggling to cope with what we ask of them. 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.”

Fortunately, here in the San Francisco Bay Area we have many activists, farmers, entrepreneurs, chefs, and nonprofits working on the issue. We also have conferences where you can learn how to join the new food world. For instance, Bioneers, held every October in San Rafael, has for many years showcased inventive farmers and food experts who are creating and promoting a food system that is healthy for people and planet. EcoFarm’s conference is held every January in Santa Cruz and is a hands-on learning experience. California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom hosts numerous classes and events.

“Prince Charles is right: our current food system is broken. But we have better options available to us. By farming in ways that balance our needs with resource availability, we can produce ample food for the world without degrading the environment,” says Margaret Mellon, Food and Environment Program Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

You can join UCS even if you’re not a scientist (its tagline is “Citizens and Scientists for Environmental Solutions”), and get expertly reasoned and documented newsletters on many environmental issues.

Of course, you don’t have to become a professional to help. Just visit a farmers’ market, buy organic food, waste less, and you’ll be part of the solution.

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