We can all agree that cheese is important, but—according to Charles, Prince of Wales—French cheese just might be the foundation of European civilization. And he envisions a dark future in the wake of its decline.
The heir to the British throne divulged his fears during his acceptance speech for the Francois Rabelais Prize, which celebrates those who improve the “heritage of food.” L’Institut de France bestowed the honor upon Prince Charles for his ongoing support of organic farming and actions to fight climate change.
Prince Charles started his speech by touching on the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. He claimed that in dealing with such tragedy, it’s helpful to remember human values that are so important to their culture.
“The distinctiveness of local cuisine is one of the most important ways we identify with the places and regions we love,” the prince said.
He went on, however, to explain how France’s globally loved wine and cheese may be facing extinction. With climate change on the rise and stricter safety regulations coming into force, the prince foresees an unhappy end for classic French cheeses. He spoke of his trip to Paris in 1992, during which he first expressed his concern over the future of cheese. Unfortunately, the rise of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have only heightened his fears since then.
“In a microbe-free, progressive, and genetically engineered future,” he asks, “what hope is there for the old-fashioned Fourme d’Ambert, the mal-formed Gruyère de Comté, or the odorous Pont L’Eveque?”
Although admitting it may sound “silly”, the prince went on to say that “a very important part of the whole magnificent edifice of European civilization rests on the inherited genius and craftsmanship of the people who make such distinguished concoctions.”
Prince Charles’s speech did have some moments of positivity. He praised France for their environmental efforts, as the French government has “calculated that if the quantity of carbon contained in soils could be increased by just 0.45% per year, the annual increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could be halted.”
Charles concluded by asking the world to preserve the “real food without which all life would become intolerable.”
We hope the world listens, because we can’t imagine a world without traditional French cheese either.