Blog: Is Prince Charles bad news for organics?

Catherine Sleep | 15 September 2005

Once the domain of sandal-wearing idealists, organic food is now strongly associated with well-to-do foodies. This has much to do with the hefty price tag attached to many organic foods, of course. I believe that many people would like to buy more organic food than they feel they can afford to. HRH Prince Charles is a staunch advocate but does he lend the organic movement credibility or reinforce unfortunate stereotypes?

Sympathy for organics is doubtless growing. One need only look at the way that organics dominate the baby food market to see that parents do think it might well be better for us. But how many of us can swallow the premium required to convert to a largely organic diet for the whole family? It’s one thing coughing up the extra for one’s precious offspring during their first year or two, but converting the entire weekly shopping trolley to organic would seriously dent the bank account. Consumers need to be unreservedly convinced either of the merits of organics or the utter awfulness of non-organic food to splash out on a regular basis, and I’m not sure that Prince Charles is the man for this particular PR job.

First off, he’s clearly loaded. He can afford to have the best, all the time. This is fine, but he can’t garner sympathy with the masses in the way that a less privileged character might. He even owns his own (largely organic) food company so clearly has a massively vested interest. Moreover, the prince has some curious views – his support for alternative therapies and biodynamic farming is under scrutiny and the talking to plants thing rather reinforces the tired image of organic fans as slightly unhinged and not quite rooted in reality. Finally, he’s nowhere near as good-looking as Jamie Oliver or even, heaven help us, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

A well-meaning and knowledgeable royal is always a useful asset, but if the organic movement is searching for a poster boy, it might do well to keep looking.

Prince Charles holding forth on organics


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