This morning I noticed that even my other half is embracing my water bucket approach to showering and without being nagged, I may add. So terribly proud!!!
I’m all about the little things that make big changes especially in matters of the environment but sitting smugly back on my laurels would be a massive ‘fail’.
Water conservation is complex and employing a bucket to catch water from the shower and NOT watering the lawn is really not close to doing enough…….although it is a good place to start.
So where can you go from here? Well, water consumption is a massive part of the food industry and what we choose to eat has varying effects on this consumption.
I had no idea how much water it would take to produce a carrot or a litre of milk or an egg for example. To be honest, it just never entered my head but I was totally taken aback when I researched some facts.
A mandarin orange consumes 14 gallons of water. A head of lettuce, 12 gallons. A bunch of grapes, 24 gallons. One single walnut, 2 gallons.
Animal products use even more water, mostly because of the need to raise grain or hay to feed the animals and that is before we take into account the water involved in packaging and delivery etc. This hidden or ‘virtual water’ is hard to get my head around but once it has been quantified and written down in black and white the real challenge in water conservation spreads out in front of me just about as far as the eye can see. Our ‘water footprint’ is colossal and we all need to address this sooner, rather than later.
To help me understand just what we are up against I did what I always do; I asked Google. This is a huge and well researched issue and I found a few websites and research papers that really resonated with me.
Grace links was one of those sites that really spelt it out for me. They have an example of a typical lunch consisting of a cheese sandwich which takes up to 56 gallons of water to produce.
Add a treat of a packet of crisps ( potato chips to my North American visitors ) and you just consumed 68 gallons of water. What?!?!! If you add some turkey into that sandwich and you can add 92 gallons onto that tally. Fancy a fizzy drink (Soda) ? That’s another 46 gallons added onto your tab. Like our national debt, these figure are difficult to fathom when we include our entire consumption for even just a day. When it comes to meat production the scenario is even more insane. A single pound of your average beef requires a staggering 1,800 gallons of water in its production. Growing the grass for the Cattle to feed on (for typically anywhere between 12 to 14 months), watering, processing, cleaning, slaughtering and delivering the final product…..the gallons just keep adding up. It is horrifying how quickly it does. In a world where there is huge pressure for food to be cheaper and produced in increasingly larger quantities, where does it leave us?
Well, the average American eats about 167 pounds of meat a year – that is three times the global average! According to The Guardian Newspaper the average Brit will eat 11, 000 animals in their lifetime. I know many of you may not want to hear this but, put simply, eating less meat and more vegetables, grains and beans and you can make a difference and help save water.
I generally have a laissez-faire attitude to life. I don’t eat meat but I don’t mind if you do. Half of my family eat it regularly. I do eat fish and realise that right there we have an industry with a whole other (and similar) range of ethical problems to contend with. Life is for living but we have a responsibility for the wellbeing of our planet and future generations. We need to be mindful of what we eat and consume. I’m not one for telling you what to do but maybe I may very politely ask you to consider what do you do? I’m not afraid to ask myself this either. I have eaten fish this week and I know I should try to ease myself towards a vegan diet. I am trying but I need a few more great recipes in my armour first of all.
This weekend, for the first time in years I am NOT pandering to the meat-eating whims of my invited dinner guests. Not that I am totally sure of what they may be……. On the menu ( a farewell dinner to one of my dearest friends, Michelle and her wonderful husband Adrian) is curry. Who doesn’t love a curry?!? I’m making a spicy South Indian style vegetable curry that is so delicious that the lack of meat will not be an issue.
Vegetarianism is so deeply interwoven into the cultural fabric of India that their food is perfect for introducing meat eaters to a vegetarian meal. How different is this to our ‘meat and two veg’ diet whereby removing the meat leaves a pitiful void. Vegan doesn’t have to be a dirty word and could be the key to saving the planet. If you fancy giving it a go, try the Vegan Society for great tips. Or you could watch this guy on You Tube. He makes me laugh and it’s interesting to see a ‘Beefcake’ talk so passionately about being Vegan. I say ‘Beefcake’ in the nicest possible way……
For a really interesting take on the challenges of going Vegan you could watch this insightful, award-winning documentary Vegucated. It is on Netflix so no excuses and for some truly gorgeous Vegan recipes please check out this blog I recently came across Vegan Rescue .