Water and Agriculture

Currently about 70% of the world’s freshwater goes to agriculture and 16% towards energy production. Moreover, animal production, and especially beef production, has a larger water footprint than a great majority of other crop products. Do we really need to eat as much meat as we do? Do western, privileged human consumerism habits of eating meat –at almost every meal; have to come at the sacrifice of our planet? These are questions we must ask ourselves. “ In Central America, 40 percent of all the rainforests have been cleared or burned down in the last 40 years, mostly for cattle pasture to feed the export market. Meat is too expensive for the poor in these beef-exporting countries, yet in some cases cattle have ousted highly productive traditional agriculture” said John Revington in the World Rainforest Report. Indeed, the standard diet of a person living in the United States today is of 4,200 gallons of water per day (roughly 15900 liters); that is, thinking about the irrigation of crops, the processing and washing, cooking etc. A person on a vegan diet requires 300 gallons per day (about 1135 liters).

This is not to say we all have to become vegan, I am in no measure to impose such constraints on the planet, but I encourage us to question our ways and habits when it comes to eating meat. Up next week: exploring “dead zones” in waterways, where, why and how?

  A cow in Mornac-sur-Seudre, in the french countryside.   Photography Credits: Anna Chahuneau

A cow in Mornac-sur-Seudre, in the french countryside.

Photography Credits: Anna Chahuneau

Anna Chahuneau