From: Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Triple Pundit, More from this Affiliate
Published June 10, 2011 09:52 AM

Calculating Water Footprints: How Much Water in Your Food?

Often, when you think about food production, it is only the carbon emissions in terms of fertilizer use, transportation etc that is accounted for. However, food production also has a steep water footprint. The water footprint is yet another environmental yardstick that measures how much water goes into the making of something.

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In 2009, the Food Ethics Council (FEC) declared in a report that food products should come with water footprint information in addition to carbon information. Because water scarcity is such a growing problem, they argued that such information will make consumers more aware of the impact of their buying habits.

As a general rule of thumb, crops like sugar and vegetables are more water-intensive than cereals. Meat and dairy are even more water intensive. One cup of fresh coffee needs 140 litres of water to produce while the production of one kilogram of beef requires 16,000 litres of water. According to the FEC report, in order to understand how to reduce our use of water, we need to measure this "embedded" or "virtual" water.

Another recently released report by WRAP and WWF examined how much water is wasted in the UK when food is thrown away. It found that nearly two-thirds of this wasted embedded water originated outside the UK. For example, most 'summer' vegetables like tomatoes, melons etc are imported from Spain. It takes 24,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of chocolate, most of which comes from Ghana. According to the Water Footprint Network, a kilogram of tomatoes requires 160 litres of water in comparison.

Article continues: http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/06/calculating-water-footprints-water-food/

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