If you live in California, no doubt you are getting seriously concerned about our drought. But regardless of where you live, water is a precious resource and all consumers can make small changes to be more water wise when it comes to food buys.
According to the LA Times, 80% of California’s water use goes to support agriculture. Individuals have become increasingly conscious of water usage as water conservation regulations continue to tighten. Typically we hear about water saving strategies like cutting sprinkler use or only doing full loads of laundry. More and more individuals are becoming aware of their diet’s impact on water usage.
The most water requiring protein is beef. An 8-ounce piece of steak requires 850 gallons of water (that’s like flushing your toilet 530 times!). Other examples of foods that require a lot of water include pork, lamb, goat, chickpeas, lentils, mangoes and asparagus. More water-wise foods include cabbage, strawberries, onions, lettuce, carrots, eggplant, grapefruit, and tomatoes. Producing chicken uses 10 times less water than beef making chicken a more water-conscious protein.
Hungry for more details regarding water-conscious foods? Check out this fun interactive plate graphic from the LA Times to learn more about how much water your favorite foods actually require to produce.
Here are some additional tips to help you make water-wise food choices:
- Reduce the number of animal products from your diet to conserve water.
- Shop consciously and only purchase what you know you will use. It is easy to let a bag of lettuce rot in the bottom drawer of the fridge and go wasted. Plan meals and purchase foods intentionally.
- Don’t stop eating vegetables because they require water use! Instead try to make water friendly choices like carrots, tomatoes, and lettuce. Purchase vegetables that require a lot of water more sparingly.
Special thanks to dietetic intern Brittany South for her contributions to this post.