The water crisis and the food crisis go hand in hand…
And the “blinding flash of the obvious” solution to both is right under our noses. It’s what we put in our mouths. The simple fact that our western diet requires well over ten times more water (per calorie) than a plant-based diet tells the entire story of what we must do.
And we will. It is inevitable. But, we’re not hearing that kind of clarity from our well-meaining officials. After reading a very disturbing article in the New York Times last week about the water dilemma in India, I decided to do a little research. I quickly discovered the website of the World Water Council (See link below). Lot of good information about the “problem” but not a great deal of clarity about the solution.
Out of probably 2,000 words on the home page, I scrolled down until I found this paragraph about saving water resources. Check out the last sentence:
Whatever the use of freshwater (agriculture, industry, domestic use), huge saving of water and improving of water management is possible. Almost everywhere, water is wasted, and as long as people are not facing water scarcity, they believe access to water is an obvious and natural thing.
With urbanization and changes in lifestyle, water consumption is bound to increase. However, changes in food habits, for example, may reduce the problem, knowing that growing 1kg of potatoes requires only 100 litres of water, whereas 1 kg of beef requires 13 000 litres.
And it’s not just beef and potatoes. All animal-based foods are big players when it comes to the champions of wasting water. And ALL plant-based foods are huge water consumption bargains by comparison.
So why don’t they tell us where most of the waste is taking place? The first sentence above mentioned “agricultural, industrial and domestic” uses of water. But they failed to mention that agriculture accounts for a whopping 75% with most of that water going to feed the animals that we eat.
If we cut out the food animals and only grew crops for direct human consumption, we’d not only solve our water crisis, but we’d free up millions of acres of farmland that could be returned to forests and other natural habitats so desperately needed by our declining ecosystems. Meanwhile, more news from India—and the world’s fastest growing population. From the New York Times article below:
Of all the challenges that face India, few are more pressing than how it manages water. In vast cities like New Delhi, where showers and flush toilets have become necessities for a rapidly expanding middle class, groundwater has been depleted. New Delhi once had many ponds and an open floodplain to absorb the monsoon and replenish aquifers; now the sprawling city has more concrete and asphalt than it has ponds and fields to absorb water.
In the countryside, where a vast majority of Indians still live, a combination of free electricity and inadequate regulation has led farmers to deplete untold groundwater supplies. In some places the water table is so low it no longer helps sustain roots, so even more water must be pumped up. In addition, soils have been degraded by chemical fertilizers, so they require even more water.
The Bottom Line. As with food, the problem with our water is only going to get worse unless we get serious about embracing the obvious solution. As the World Water Council reports:
- 1.1 billion people live without clean drinking water
- 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation
The movie HOME reported that the amount of water in the world has been constant for billions of years. In fact, it’s the same water that we use time and time again. The problem is that we have seven billion humans competing for that same water and right now, the wealthiest 25% of us are using far more than our fair share. Just like we’re doing with our food.
The first two links below are source articles mentioned above. The others are links to some of my previous blogs on this topic:
- Source material. Water Crisis: World Water Council.
- Source article. Age-Old Fixes for India’s Water – NYTimes.com.
- Blog about food crisis. Too many people, wasting resources, eating the wrong food…
- World Water Day was Thursday, 3-22-12
- Water shortage and pollution caused by livestock (Sound Bites)
- When the Nile Runs Dry; NYT Op-Ed — pretty scary
- With the unofficial start of summer…it’s all about the water
- It’s all about the WATER…huge problem – simple solution
Want to help solve the water crisis and the food crisis? Simply learn how to promote your own health by eating a whole foods, plant-based diet. By doing so, you’ll be saving water, land and energy. By promoting this concept to others, you’ll be making a huge difference. Pay it forward—make sure your future great grandchildren have water to drink— and food to eat. Here’s how to get started:
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to email@example.com
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation