Our Food System & Climate Action | Recipe for Survival

Washington (GGM) Analysis | January 7, 2022, by Noreen Wise, Founder & CEO of Gallant Gold Media, and author 

According to John Doerr’s Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now, tackling our food system carbon emissions has to be addressed systematically. More than 15% of the excess carbon in the atmosphere is attributed to our food system. Doerr has broken down the 15% into sub groups:

  • Agriculture emissions
  • Fertilizers
  • Consumption
  • Rice
  • Food waste

The general public only has to focus on consumption and food waste. Consumption, too, has been broken down for us, making our individual decisions and responsibility much easier.  Doerr explained in Speed & Scale that we must cut our intake of conventional beef and dairy 25% by 2030, and 50% by 2050, as well as follow recommended dietary guidelines and choose low emissions food products when shopping. Carbon labeling will make visits to the grocery store much easier. 

Although we’re only responsible for reducing beef and dairy 25% by 2030, there are many who are choosing to become 100% vegan, or somewhere in between the two numbers. This is okay. (I hover at about 85% vegan. I do eat eggs daily, and chicken on occasion. )

We need to improve and scale plant-based alternatives to compete with (conventional) beef and dairy products, and shift demand from high emissions foods. Carbon labels and dietary guidelines can guide consumers to better choices.

John Doerr, author of Speed & Scale, Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now

How do we begin to rethink our individual food habits and factor in the recommended dietary guidelines that John Doerr mentions, as well as cut the high emission food choices available to us?

As if on cue, Dana Ellis Hunnes PhD, MPH, RD’s new book Recipe for Survival, What You Can Do to Live a Healthier and More Environmentally Friendly Life  (Cambridge Press, available January 27, 2022) is available for pre-order. Recipe for Survival provides the necessary insights into how to develop a climate action way of eating and shopping. 

Dana is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a Senior Dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Her day-to-day experience as a practicing dietitian, educator and researcher provide an example for us on how to rethink our food habits as we begin to shoulder our individual responsibility for cutting the emissions from our individual food choices and habits by the required amount by 2030.

Dana explained for Gallant Gold Media Hill Report that she’s an advocate for the most sustainable and environmentally friendly diet.  She and her husband are vegan at home where they have full control over what they purchase and how it’s prepared. When they’re out at a restaurant and vegan options are available, they’ll choose those. If not, then no worries, they’ll choose something else from the menu. 

Dana considers meat grown on a regenerative farm that contributes to soil health to be fine. She points out that 99% of the meat sold in stores is not prepared this way. She eats plant-based meats. Impossible is a personal preference, although she also eats Beyond. All plant-based meats are environmentally friendly and use 80-90% less water than beef, and have less than 10% the CO2 emissions than beef. Dana’s 7 year old son is vegan when he’s with her, and he’s vegetarian when he’s on his own (at school or with friends). Many schools have plant-based choices for children now. Some of the largest school districts in the U.S. (Los Angeles and NYC) have signed on for the Meatless Monday campaign.  

I advocate for doing the best you can as often as you can. Choose what you can do now – you don’t need to be perfect. You just need to make an effort.

Dana Ellis Hunnes, author of Recipe for Survival, Recipe for Survival, What You Can Do to Live a Healthier and More Environmentally Friendly Life

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