Exploring Human Potential

“Virtual Water”: Water For Food

Posted on | March 29, 2010 | Comments Off on “Virtual Water”: Water For Food

Mike Magee

Most US health professionals understand by now that the average American diet is seriously out of wack. Both in quantity and quality we’re way off the mark. And the direct results are soaring levels of childhood obesity in the young and an ever expanding burden of chronic disease in adults. And US based multi-national food companies (just like the tobacco companies) are fast at work now marketing the American diet to the developing world. (1)

What doctors and nurses and other health professionals generally don’t know is that there is a second important reason for them to advocate for a new American diet – grown close to home with more grains, vegetables and fruit and less meat. That reason is over consumption of scarce water. (2)  While an individual American consumes 3 liters (.8 gallons) of water a day, delivering the average American daily diet consumes 3000 liters (793 gallons). Ever bit of what we eat has a water footprint. (3)  Food is in fact “virtual water”. (4)

The water story behind meat includes not only the water they drink, but also the water needed to grow the grain they eat and the water necessary to clean barns of manure. (5) The same is true for pork and chicken.  If you follow the meat chain one step further to sausage or cheese or eggs, you consume more water in the process. Here are a few examples:



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