Five years ago I had an idea to write the book Eat Less Water. The idea arrived while I was reading another book, “When The Rivers Run Dry.” The book written by Fred Pearce, introduced me to the concept of water footprint and virtual water and educated me to the fact that globally 7 out of every 10 gallons of fresh water flows to food production. It was at that moment I recognized I was saving water in the wrong room of the house.
Up until that time I had focused my attention on indoor water conservation with the start of a small water conservation business. The inspiration for this venture came during the drought of 2007.
I attended trade shows, met with retail buyers and water agencies. Earth Day festivals became our new family vacation. Michael, my husband, pitched the white canopy tent, Isabella covered portable tables with billowing blue cloth and stacked star and duck shaped shower timers in neat displays. Our two youngest children, Joaquin and Estrella, helped by napping in the double-stroller. Isabella soon became a sales associate. She rattled off statistics of gallons saved if you shaved four minutes off your shower time, “You can save 2,500 gallons of water in one year,” she’d tell anyone who slowed down. Ultimately, I sold 80,000 shower timers.
But 2,500 gallons of water saved by shaving down the minutes of your shower time is a drop in the bucket in comparison to virtual water of food. Check out some of these totals:
One pound of beef = 1,851 gallons of water
One quarter pound burger (only the meat) = 462 gallons of water
One year of beef for the average American = 118,464 gallons of water
One slice of bread = 11 gallons
One pound of pasta = 230 gallons One year of pasta for the average American= 4,370 gallons
One glass of milk (8 ounces) = 45 gallons of water
One pound of cheese = 414 gallons of water
One gallon of milk = 720 gallons of water
One pound of butter = 3,602 gallons of water
One cup of cooked rice = 50 gallons of water
One pound of uncooked rice = 300 gallons of water
For the past five years, I’ve dedicated myself to understanding how to save water with my food choices, by supporting farming methods that conserve fresh water resources. I’ve met with farmers and food producers around the country.
My bags are packed to leave for one of three final research trips for the book. Tomorrow, I fly to Hawaii to meet with Erik Gunther owner of Cloud Forest Coffee on the Big Island. In the Spring I travel to Illinois to visit an organic pig farm. In May, I travel to Portland, Maine to visit the only fair trade, organic beer company in the U.S., my final trip.
Exciting things are in the pipeline in 2016, including an article published in The Atlantic and a meeting with a publisher. I will find a publisher for this book in 2016. Cross your fingers for me.
Happy New Year to you. May this be the year we all reap what we’ve sown.
There is power in the collective.
Eat less water at the kitchen table!