Agri-business News watering a field

Published on March 1st, 2013 | by Becky Striepe

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How much water are you eating?

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watering a field

Agriculture has a large water footprint, and some foods take a lot more water to produce than others. How do your favorite foods and drinks stack up?

Much of the water involved in getting food on our plates is indirect – we never see it. Watering fields, producing feed for animals, and even transportation all factor into a food’s water footprint, though, and our food choices can make a big impact on our total, true water consumption. The folks at Lock Ness Water Gardens compiled some interesting data on common foods and drinks and how much water it takes to produce them.

My favorite suggested substitution? If you drink a daily glass of milk, replace it with a beer for a savings of 15,582 gallons of water per year. Fill ‘er up, kids!

water footpring of common foods

Image Credit: Watering a Field photo via Shutterstock



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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • Vinnie Dontinelli

    Becky,
    2500 gal for 1 cup of ciffee sounded off, so I researched and according to the US Geoligical Service (USGS) it takes 35 Gallons of water to grow 1 cup of coffee, so I guess it would be 3500 gallons and 1 cup.
    http://ga2.er.usgs.gov/edu/edu-activity-watercontent.cfm

  • Vinnie Dontinelli

    sorry, forgot to proofread.

  • Vinnie Dontinelli

    Sorry,
    I see I was getting confused — you had 1 lb from 3500 G. not 1 cup. But l did see a lot of different estimates for the same thing which goes to prove the experts do not really know. I don’t think anyone had a coffee tree, cow or whatever in a controlled enviornment where every drop of water it took in was measured along with all output. But, the lesson of your article is valid. We need to eat the 20 lbs of grain (or whatever it is) instead of the tiny 1 lb of beef it produced.

  • http://www.stitchesandstringtheory.tumblr.com Rachel Sandler

    Replace milk with beer? I guess that might save water and all, but that doesn’t seem like a very healthy decision. Dehydrate and impair yourself with alcohol instead of taking in calcium and other necessary vitamins? Not to mention that beer in general has more calories than milk.

    • Vinnie Dontinelli

      Where is your sense of humor. That was spoken “tongue in cheek” I think. Just joking l’m sure.

  • CC Beroza

    This is very interesting and timely information — thank you. But, I think it’s somewhat misleading, because no distinction is made between, for example, crops and animals grown organically, and those not; milk from pastured cows rather than CAFO herds; crops grown mostly with just the rain that falls, and those crops which require extensive irrigation and which are grown in former deserts; the number of miles a food product has to travel — I’m in NY, so does my apple come from Washington State or from a farm 30 miles away? Or, did I pick the apple or pear off one of the trees in my front yard which I watered only once last summer in the height of the drought, and which I grow organically with no application of any pesticide or fertilizer? “Vegetables” covers a lot of territory and lumping everything together gives very little usable data that helps me in choosing what to buy. I guess the biggest water waster is meat and, since I’m a vegetarian, that particular info won’t change my buying habits. However, I may pass this article along to some of my meat-eating friends.

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