June 10, 2011--Calculating water footprints: How much water in your food? (Environmental News Network)

Often, when you think about food production, it is only the carbon emissions in terms of fertilizer use, transportation etc that is accounted for. However, food production also has a steep water footprint. The water footprint is yet another environmental yardstick that measures how much water goes into the making of something. In 2009, the Food Ethics Council (FEC) declared in a report that food products should come with water footprint information in addition to carbon information. Because water scarcity is such a growing problem, they argued that such information will make consumers more aware of the impact of their buying habits. As a general rule of thumb, crops like sugar and vegetables are more water-intensive than cereals. Meat and dairy are even more water intensive. One cup of fresh coffee needs 140 litres of water to produce while the production of one kilogram of beef requires 16,000 litres of water. According to the FEC report, in order to understand how to reduce our use of water, we need to measure this "embedded" or "virtual" water.

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