World Water Day, Part One: Food Security

Mar 16 2012

Water is everywhere. Literally, everywhere. It’s above us, in the clouds. It’s underneath us, in the ground, in the soil, in man-made waterways. It’s all around us in rivers, streams and lakes, and in our oceans. Despite being surrounded by it every day, water is something we consistently take for granted. This apathy has led to a worldwide water crisis, the key components being food security, water scarcity and water pollution.

Food Security

We are running out of the water necessary to produce the food we eat. For the approximately 7 billion people on our planet, we consume roughly 2-4 liters of water a day, most of that water coming from the food we eat. Our increased agriculture and accompanying irrigation systems are using water at a rapid clip. For example, it takes 15,000 liters to produce one kilogram of beef and 1,500 liters to produce a single kilogram of wheat.

From “All the food from crop and livestock production, inland fisheries or aquaculture, forestproducts, requires water. This water comes from rain and moisture stored in soils (green water) or from withdrawals in watercourses, wetlands, lakes and aquifers (blue water). 70% of the blue water withdrawals at global level go to irrigation. Irrigated agriculture represents 20% of the total cultivated land but contributes 40% of the total food produced worldwide.”

In addition to the amount of water-intensive food we rely on, we also waste most of it. Approximately, 30% of food produced worldwide is never eaten, and all of this wasted food used millions of gallons of water to make.

The population is expected to grow to 9 billion by the year 2050. To keep up with the demand of a population that size, food production will need to increase by 70%. According to the Food and Agrictulture Organization of the United Nations, “using scarce natural resources more efficiently and adapting to climate change are the main challenges world agriculture will face in the coming decades.” If we continue relying so heavily on water for our food production, we could be in danger of running out.

The key is cutting back, focusing on the word ‘less. If we collectively learn to rely on less water-intensive foods, waste less food, and produce better food using less water we will stop the cycle of using up our water supply for food production, leading to less water scarcity and increased food security.

Check out Seathos’ World Water Day Campaign Page for more information, tweets and videos.

Leave a Reply