Challenge #52 ~ Food

Read the blog post on the February Theme – THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY

Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

The final challenge! #52! And it is about Food, from a new perspective. What better way to celebrate completing the 52 Weekly Challenges than with a good meal! It is a banquet filled with options and choices for critical thinking and decision making – for personal actions toward a positive impact. Bon Appetit! 

Powerful climate actions and solutions are possible where water, energy and food connect. We need to become more literate about the entire food system by understanding interactions and relationships about how we grow, harvest, transport, prepare, and serve food to maximize our health and minimize food waste and disposal. Did you know that February is Cancer Prevention month? In a number of our weekly challenges we discuss food to fight cancer, healthy brain food, locally grown food, and composting food waste. The Project Drawdown food sector is a powerful reminder to self motivate for food-related impactful solutions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the atmosphere.  

Project Drawdown, the world’s leading resource for climate solutions, lists 8 of the top 20 existing solutions to reverse global warming related to the food system. What we buy to eat three times a day presents one of the most important daily decisions and actions we can make as individuals,  that can contribute to conservation agriculture and food waste reduction. 

The final weekly challenge celebrates the completion of 52 Weekly Challenges, that build on each other week by week and month by month, for every individual to make better informed purchasing decisions and adjust habits and behaviors to live more sustainably. The ultimate goal is to reduce our carbon footprint, right here in Qatar, to Think Globally – Act Locally and accelerate implementation of climate solutions.


Reduced Food Waste

Project Drawdown Number 3 most impactful solution for reversing global warming

A third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork. Think about the huge amount of waste this produces – waste of seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, labor, and money. Food waste accounts for about 8 percent of global emissions, largely due to methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) produced by organic material in landfills.

In higher income areas such as Qatar, food waste becomes even more relevant, as retailers and consumers would often reject food that is i less than perfect, or simply leave it unconsumed.

Project Drawdown research shows that “if 50 percent of food waste is reduced by 2050, avoided emissions could be equal to 26.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide. Reducing waste also avoids the deforestation for additional farmland, preventing 44.4 gigatons of additional emissions.”

Consult the Food Recovery Hierarchy in our Feed Others, Not the Landfill Challenge to see how your individual actions can contribute to this carbon reduction solution.

Plant-Rich Diet

Project Drawdown Number 4 most impactful solution for reversing global warming

A diet rich in plants is important to our health, and the health of our planet. Meat-centric diets are responsible for one-fifth of global emissions.

“If cattle were their own nation, they would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.”

Project Drawdown

As our Cancer Fighting SuperFoods Challenge points out, not only are plant-rich diets important in reducing emissions, they are also healthier, leading to lower rates of chronic disease.

As Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has said, making the transition to a plant-based diet may be the most effective way an individual can stop climate change.

Project Drawdown describes the impact in this way: “If 50 percent of the world’s population restricts their diet to a healthy 2,500 calories per day and reduces meat consumption overall, we estimate at least 26.7 gigatons of emissions could be avoided from dietary change alone. If avoided deforestation from land use change is included, an additional 39.3 gigatons of emissions could be avoided, making healthy, plant-rich diets one of the most impactful solutions at a total of 66 gigatons reduced.”

Even Google is getting in the game, finding innovative ways to help its employees make healthier choices in their cafeteria. It’s a smart move. Healthier employees take fewer sick days off and have fewer doctor visits, both of which are good for a company’s bottom line. As a bonus, healthier eating choices also contribute to a healthier planet.


Project Drawdown Number 60 most impactful solution for reversing global warming

As was pointed out in our Healthy Soils Challenge and reinforced in the Materials Challenge, compost is a magical resource not to be dismissed. With nearly half of solid waste composed of organic or biodegradable materials, we have on our hands fantastic raw materials to improve our soils. And by keeping these out of the landfills, we reduce decomposition in the absence of oxygen that produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is up to 34 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a century.

Project Drawdown puts this in very real terms: “In 2015, an estimated 38 percent of food waste was composted in the United States; 57 percent was composted in the European Union. If all lower-income countries reached the U.S. rate and all higher-income countries achieved the E.U. rate, composting could avoid methane emissions from landfills equivalent to 2.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050.” Let’s go Qatar!

Nutrient Management

Project Drawdown Number 65 most impactful solution for reversing global warming

The final Food solution where we can have a positive impact is nutrient management. 

Nitrogen fertilizers have a huge impact on contamination of our natural environment. Reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers leads to healthier soils, less contaminated waterways, and reduced impact on global warming, as soil bacteria convert nitrate fertilizers into nitrous oxide—298 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in its warming effect.

Of course, as we see in our Healthy Soils Challenge, composting is a remedy here as well. And our Cancer Fighting Superfoods Challenge encourages us to eat organically grown foods as often as possible, improving not only our own health outcomes, but also that of our planet.

By considering these Food-related strategies, we help to reduce carbon emissions from the atmosphere and contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) #2 – Zero Hunger; #3: Good Health and Well Being; #12 – Responsible Consumption and #13 Climate Action.