I live in rainy Vancouver. This is a place that is overflowing with water. In fact, at this time of the year, it feels like too much. As a country Canada has 0.5% of the world’s population, and 7% of the world’s renewable freshwater supply. We’re a sopping wet country, and the Pacific Coastal region where I live is the wettest of all. It’s no surprise that those of us who live here take our water for granted.
Whenever the subject of water comes up, I always feel at a bit of a loss. The closest I’ve ever come to feeling scarcity is dealing with watering restrictions in the summertime. I do what I can to conserve water, but I know that my actions aren’t going to change things for someone living in, say, Yemen. When I turn off my tap the water I save just stays in the reservoir up the mountain from my house, and keeps the level from dropping too low. But this year the World Water Day theme is Water and Food Security, and they managed to drive their point home to me in this video:
Here are some key points about how our eating habits affect the world’s access to freshwater, and how our personal food supply can be impacted:
- All the food we eat requires water to grow.
- 70% of the water we withdraw from rivers, lakes and aquifers at global level goes to irrigation.
- Animal products require far more water to grow, because we must first grow the feed crops for the animals, and then provide them with drinking water as well. 1 kilo of beef uses 15,000 liters of water; in contrast 1 kilo of wheat uses 1500 liters.
- The population is growing rapidly, which means we need to grow more food.
- 30% of the food we grow goes to waste, which literally means water down the drain.
I may not live in a place that experiences water shortages, but some of my food may be grown in a much drier climate, which relies heavily on irrigation. And even when I’m eating local, I really can’t guarantee where the food for the cow who produced the milk to make my cheese came from. When I’m scraping food off into the compost bin after dinner, I’m throwing away water that our planet can’t afford to waste.
I’m all sunshine and roses today, aren’t I? But here’s where I change gears, because there are some simple things you can do to reduce how much water you’re consuming through your food:
- Eat less meat, and consume fewer animal products.
- Take steps to reduce your own food waste. You’ll be saving money, too.
- Grow more of your own food, and practice water conservation in your garden.
- Ask questions about where and how your food was grown, so that you can choose more sustainable options.
It turns out that we all need to think about our water use, wherever we live. Our food security – and our children’s food security – depends on it. We’re all in this together, so let’s make sure we’re doing our part to ensure everyone has access to the food and water they need.
My friend Abbie over at Farmer’s Daughter set up a blog hop for World Water Day. If you want to read what some other fabulous folks have to say, check these posts out: