What’s the Water Footprint of your Meal?

It takes about 1,000 gallons of water per day to feed the average American. That’s like running a hose for an hour straight or doing 40 loads of laundry. Each day. Just for the food you eat. Many people don’t realize just how much of our water footprint comes from our diet, and by being aware of what foods use the most water, you can strive to make your diet more environmentally friendly.

With the help of Professor Karen Berger’s Hydrology and Water Resources Class (EES 213), Dining Team Green held a water footprint dinner on November 12th in Danforth Dining Hall. The Hydrology and Water Resources class calculated approximately how much water went into each recipe, allowing students to see just how much water goes into the food they eat. Additionally, each recipe was broken down to show how much water was used for each ingredient percentage wise, allowing students to better understand what contributed to the number.

The dinner featured table tents with information regarding water usage in meals. These table tents offered information like water usage comparisons between coffee and tea, meat and vegetables, and many other comparisons that highlight small changes individuals can make in their diet to greatly benefit the environment. The importance of this information is about making varied choices.  Rather than eating an 8oz steak every night of the week, maybe change things up with personal decisions like not eating meat one day of the week, having a smaller meat portion and more veggies to fill you up, or switching from coffee to tea for your morning caffeine.

Did you miss the water footprint dinner? Don’t worry! Here are some water footprint facts from the dinner:

1. It takes 900 gallons to make an 8-oz steak, whereas most vegetables only take 60 gallons to produce that weight. Including more plant forward meals can greatly reduce your water footprint. All campus dining locations feature many plant based options, and work to continue expanding these types of dishes as well.

2. One half-liter bottle of cola requires 175 liters, or 46 gallons, of water. Just another reason to switch to water rather than soda! Not only is switching to water better for you, but it’s better for the environment too.

3. It takes almost 5 times more water to produce a cup of coffee than a cup of tea. Consider switching out your morning coffee for tea once a week to reduce your water footprint!

A special thank you to Professor Karen Berger and her Hydrology and Water Resources Class for providing information and calculations for the water footprint dinner.

Go green with Dining Team Green! Want more information on sustainability in dining? Follow us on Facebook​, ​Instagram​, and​ ​Twitter​ ​@ursustainibble. Contact us at urdiningteamgreen@gmail.com​. We’d love to hear from you!

Guest Post Written by Phoebe Konecky, Class of 2021, Dining Team Green Sustainability Intern

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