If you want to conserve water and lessen your environmental footprint, you might consider taking shorter showers or only washing clothes when they are really dirty. However, the most effective way you can reduce your water usage is by choosing more carefully what you eat. This is because the food we eat makes up more than 2/3 of our total water footprint. This might surprise you until we take a closer look at how much water is used to produce the food we eat every day.
The LA Times posted a website article during California's terrible drought in 2015 that included an intriguing tool. You can select various foods to put on your virtual plate and it will tell you how many gallons of water went into producing those items. Take, for instance, a plate consisting of a pork chop, pasta, an apple, and a glass of milk. This plate used 500 gallons of water to produce! The majority of the water came from the 330 gallons it takes to raise a pig and butcher it to get that pork chop on your plate. In fact, the majority of our water usage when it comes to producing food comes from meats. If you are looking for ways to lighten your water footprint, simply eat less meat in your diet. Instead, replace them with eggs or beans for protein.
If we are considering our meal items, why not choose the one that used significantly less water to produce? For instance, if you are choosing a starch for your meal, potatoes only use 34 gallons of water per pound versus corn which uses 146 gallons per pound. The difference between coffee versus tea? Tea only uses 108 gallons of water per gallon of brewed tea contrasting coffee which uses a whopping 1,056 gallons of water to produce one gallon of brewed coffee. These efforts can really add up!
This article can help you choose between common foods like beer vs wine or asparagus vs broccoli. The foods you choose to eat can be very mindful of the environment if you educate yourself.
While it may seem drastic to cut these foods out of your diet entirely, knowing the amounts of water it takes to produce them can make you more mindful of your choices. You can find more information on water preservation on the MN AWWA website.