On World Water Day, we choose to talk about the Water Footprint of the food that we consume every day. The water footprint is the volume of water needed to process a product at an industrial level, considering the water used in all production processes.
In the ranking of foodstuffs which processes require the highest amount of water, meat comes in the first place, as it takes 15,400 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of it.
It takes 2,500 liters of water to produce one kilo of rice and 1,420 liters of water to produce one kilo of barley.
The water footprint per calorie of animal meat is twenty times higher than cereals.
World Water Day was therefore established to focus on consumption and waste of water and to try, as much as possible, to reduce them, starting with conscious choices both at our table and through our own production processes.
So, what can we do?
Limit consumption of some foods that are recognized as having a ‘high water impact’, by adopting sustainable diets as the flexitarians do, or by following a ‘universal diet‘ (as proposed by researchers in the Lancet journal), which involves doubling consumption of vegetable products and halving consumption of red meat, or by adopting a vegan/vegetarian diet.
A sustainable diet rich in vegetables, fruit, pulses, and whole grains saves up to 2,000 liters of water per meal compared to a meat-based approach.
Everyone can do their part, and the key to success is awareness, starting with the food we buy. By reducing meat consumption and choosing water-saving products like pulses, cereals, and vegetables, we can significantly reduce the negative impact on important water resources.