Published on July 4th, 2009 | by John Chappell4
How Food Choices Affect Your Water Footprint
Eco-conscious and green consumers around the globe are increasingly aware of the carbon footprint of their food choices, but what about the water footprint?
As water becomes an increasingly scarce global resource, the focus turns toward analyzing how much water it takes to grow particular foods. Increasing awareness of the amount of water various foods require can help consumers make educated choices for the most environmentally conscious products.
Not surprisingly many of the same attributes that make for smart environmentally friendly choices also make sense from a water consumption perspective. Not eating meat, choosing locally grown organic foods, and growing as much produce as possible in your own backyard are also the best choices for using the least amount of water.
There’s a fantastic Water Footprint website that illustrates the amount of water it takes to grow, process, and transport some of the most common foods. For instance – it takes 140 liters of water to make just one cup of coffee, 1,000 liters of water to make one liter of milk, and 16,000 liters of water to make one pound of beef. These are just a few staggering examples of the amount of water resources required for commonly consumed foods.
You can click to check out the Water Footprint website.
The Water Footprint website also illustrates how similar food choices require differing amounts of water to produce. For example, to produce a kilogram of rice it takes 3,000 liters of water to produce, but a kilogram of wheat takes only 1,350 liters of water. Does that mean wheat is always a better food choice? Maybe, but not necessarily. There are still the factors of location, amount of irrigation vs. natural rainfall, and the distance to transport the food to you, the consumer, to consider.
If nothing else, use the Water Footprint website to begin to think about your own food choices, and how you can bring more sustainable, eco-friendly foods to your table. If you’re looking for a single, simple step to take to reduce your Water Footprint, try eating vegetarian.
For more water-related information, check out Starbucks: Wasting up to Six Million Gallons of Water Every Day or Water Wise Gardening from other outstanding Eat Drink Better contributors.