Food production takes prodigious amounts of water, which is why the 2012 UN World Water Day today has taken food security as its theme, with downloadable teaching material.
While a person might drink between two and five litres of water a day, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) calculates that the water needed to produce a day’s food can range between 2,000 and 5,000 litres.
It is hard to imagine that producing a kilo of grain requires 1,500 litres of water or that to produce a kilo of red meat takes ten times that amount. Yet these are the measure of the impact that the industrial diet has on the planet.
Little wonder, then, that the catchline for the day should be: “The world is thirsty because we are hungry.” And a growing demand for meat and animal products will push up the levels of water withdrawals still further. Until more people understand what food production means in the real world.