All eyes turn to the Olympics every two years. While meant to be an event that unites, it remains a Game that divides opinions on a social and economical scale. The selected host city risks the extreme costs associated with building stadiums for short-term use, yet with the high influx of visitors and extensive coverage, hopes to gain a higher profile on the world stage, more jobs, and long term investments.

While some supporters bank on the argument of economic stimulation for the host city to-be, others highlight the pitfalls of the two-week hiatus to their city: billions of taxpayer’s dollars being used to build temporary structures, and environmental drawbacks.What the public typically never sees is all the background work it takes to organize such a colossal event. This year, however, the Rio Games have put some innovative thinking to the stage, dealing with global issues such as food distribution problems and global warming. And as a result, Rio’s behind-the-scenes stories also took the center stage to satisfy a world that is increasingly concerned with social and environmental issues.

Surplus Food Solutions

Food demands at the Rio Olympics were high: To feed the 11 000 Olympic athletes, their coaches, and the half a million visitors in Rio this year, the Brazilian food chain was on the spotlight. At the Olympic village, a dining area the size of two football fields hosted athletes and catered about 60 000 meals daily.

800 million people worldwide go hungry on any given day, about 40% of food produced around the world is never eaten.

In and around the stadiums, food supplies were on high demand with about 100 000 spectators and long lines, so delivery services became increasingly popular. iFood, Brazil’s top delivery service was ready for the influx of both locals and tourists ordering delivery, with millions of Brazilians wanting to watch the broadcasts from home with friends and tourists finding the app easy and convenient – without the wait times.

In a stark contrast of the food at the Games, in Brazil, 5 percent, or 10.4million people still don’t get enough food. These numbers are comparable to America, where 6.9 million U.S. households don’t have adequate food security. Almost 800 million people worldwide go hungry on any given day, yet about 40% of food produced around the world is never eaten because it is thrown away or spoiled between harvest and transportation.

30 guests, 108 seats, and 5000 planned meals using food waste.

Chefs Use Olympics Food Waste to Feed Brazil's Homeless (via Tasting Table)

Chefs Use Olympics Food Waste to Feed Brazil’s Homeless (Image: Tasting Table)

With all this food being circulated, and the world watching, an innovative initiative sparked a lot of media attention. Italian chef Massimo Botura, Brazilian chef David Hertz and their colleagues aimed to create 5000 nutritious meals for those in need. They realised ingredients such as soon-to expire items like bread and yoghurt, as well as deformed fruits and veggies, had so much potential. 

Their solution? 30 guests, 108 seats, and 5000 planned meals using food waste. Refettorio Gastromotiva, was sparked by the need to redistribute unused food from the Olympics to Brazil’s hungry. Their motto? Preparing delicious meals “For a world with no waste. For a world with more inclusion.”


NASA-Inspired Art

The Opening Ceremonies were a display of art, culture and sport — a touch of marketing genius with a  broad target reach, but also a great way to draw attention to one of the world’s leading problems: Global Warming. This year, the ceremony featured heat maps, showing the effects rising sea levels on major cities across the globe: as people watched the alarming images affecting major cities like Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro and Shanghai, a voice echoed plainly “The heat is melting the ice cap. It’s disappearing very quickly”. This type of marketing has a wide target, urging an average of 27.5 million viewers to take action on Climate Change.


Image: NBC

With billions of dollars, years of preparation and the world as their stage, the Olympics may seem extravagant in a world with abundant inequality. However, it serves as an important platform that enlightens millions of people on global issues and highlights solutions to the world’s leading problems.

To join our efforts to be smart consumers supporting sustainable solutions 
join the movement. 


Share This