Where is Water Hiding in Your Food?

From foodtank.com, by Sarah Small
Where is Water Hiding in Your Food?

This article was written with support from Marta Antonelli. Antonelli is a researcher, author, and Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Alumna.

In Italy, food consumption accounts for 89 percent of the daily water footprint. On World Water day, the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) is relaunching the concrete objectives and targets of the Milan Protocol. One of the protocol’s goals is to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the end of 2020. Eaters can all do their part in using water sustainably and that starts with water hidden in food. Here are eight facts about water eaters and consumers might not know about.

  1. Humans consume, on average, 2 liters (68 ounces) a day to drink and 4,000 liters (135,000 ounces) in food. This “invisible” consumption is known as virtual water, the volume of water used during the food production process.

  2. The production of 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of beef requires more than 15,000 liters (507,000 ounces) of water. Meat produced using intensive systems requires five times more water than pasture breeding. Two-hundred fifty grams of tomatoes require 50 liters (1,700 ounces) of virtual water, a margherita pizza requires 1,259 liters (42,500 ounces), and 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of pasta requires on average 1,850 liters (62,500 ounces) of water worldwide.

  3. Food consumption contributes to 89 percent of the daily water footprint.

  4. If the entire world adopted a western-diet, characterized by high levels of meat consumption, we would need to increase the amount of water currently used to produce food by 75 percent. Studies have shown that in the future it will be possible to reduce the global water footprint even with the expected major increase in the population, by changing consumption practices.

  5. It requires more water to produce animal-based foods than vegetables.

  6. Every year, approximately 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted, which is equivalent to one third of total production. This also involves the squandering of water resources required for production. The water footprint of food waste is around 250 cubic kilometers every year which is equivalent to the annual flow of the Volga River, the longest river in Europe, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva.

  7. The global deficit of freshwater for the future is expected to be 2,400 cubic kilometers a year or the volume of 30 Lake Geneva’s.

  8. If eaters switch to a vegetarian diet for one day, it saves 1,000 liters of water.

BCFN also created a test to show consumers how much water is in food, how much water is wasted through food waste, and how much water eaters can save by changing their diet. Try it and learn more HERE!

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