Water Footprint

Water footprint is a term coined in 2002 by Arjen Hoekstra, a professor of water management at University of Twente in the Netherlands. Based partly on the increasingly familiar concept of “carbon footprint” (a widely used measurement of carbon-dioxide emissions), water footprint refers to the water required to produce a good or service over all the various steps of its production chain. For example, a hamburger takes 630 gallons of water to produce, largely in growing grain for cattle feed. A single T-shirt contains 700 gallons of “virtual” or “embedded” water, representing mainly the water used in growing and processing cotton.

The water footprint of the United States is larger than any other country and more than twice the average. The super-sized American water footprint is in large part a reflection of what we eat. The United Nations reports that each of us uses between 530 and 1,300 gallons of water embedded in the production chain of the food we eat each day. If Americans are to reduce our water footprint we must “eat” less water.


Water Footprint of favorite Foods

One pound of pasta- 230 gallons

One pound of beef- 1799 gallons

One pound of pork- 576 gallons

One pound of chicken- 468 gallons

One pound of cheese- 600 gallons

One egg- 23 gallons

One apple- 18 gallons

One orange- 13 gallons

One slice of bread- 11 gallons

One bottle of beer- 65 gallons

One glass of wine- 63 gallons

One cup of coffee- 37 gallons

Source: www.nationalgeographic.org, Blue Planet Run: The Race to provide Safe Drinking Water to the World.

2 replies to Water Footprint
  1. Thank you for this post, it is eye opening and surprising. And that is helpful information about dry farms, I’ll ask our farmers at the market in Fillmore about this. Cheers, Kim


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