Once upon a time the word vegetarian conjured up images of tofu, brown rice, and steamed vegetables for me. Today I feel that modern cuisine has elevated the humble vegetable. My perspective has broadened. Vegetables are extremely complex and with a little knowledge and technique, they can be transformed into the star of the show. A cauliflower can be a roast, puree, sauce, salad or soup. With the advent of the Farm to Table movement, vegetables have become much more glamorous. People care more about the pedigree of produce than ever before.
I was recently reading about a non-profit organization called “Meatless Mondays” that is requesting people join with them in reducing their meat consumption by 1 meal per week. For centuries, meat and vegetables have shared the plate, but according to this campaign, unless meat takes a leave of absence at least once a week, we are going to face some serious repercussions.
It turns out there is a huge connection between eating meat and it’s impact on our water supply. Since the California drought and this campaign for eating more vegetables are both so closely related to my industry, I decided to dive deep into the topic of water and meat consumption. The more I researched, the more convinced I became that eating more produce and less meat should not just be a personal choice, but rather an environmental concern for all of us.
To illustrate, some statistics are necessary: Currently, 7O% of agricultural land in the world is used for meat production. It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce a bushel of corn. A cow will eat 50 bushels of corn by the time it leaves the feedlot. That translates into 125,000 gallons of water per animal. By these calculations, it will take 1800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat! Beef turns out to have an overall water footprint of roughly four million gallons per ton produced. By contrast, the water footprint for vegetables it’s 85,000 gallons per ton. Sure vegetables and fruits need plenty of water for production, but meat takes the Lions share!
The demand for meat has driven farmers to plant more corn over other crops.
At the current rate of consumption and the continued agricultural support needed for meat production, we are draining our water aquifers to frighteningly, low levels. We simply, cannot afford that in states like California.
Tulare county, Ca. has the worlds richest soil. It has been in production since the 1800’s. For the first year in centuries, this soil stood barren. California is currently drilling for groundwater, 2500 feet below ground. Fingers crossed, we do not have to buy water from other states, as it would take 17 trillion gallons of water to get out of this drought.
I’m not one to get on my soapbox and tell people what to do, but for sure, I want to be an advocate for this movement. Some of our customers are already participating, by creating a separate vegetable centered menu. I applaud them for their initiative. Berry Man is definitely on board. As it says on our infamous blue trucks, “Stay Healthy, Eat More Fruits and Vegetables!
Can you believe that each time you pass on eating a burger, you save enough water to drink for the next three years? Wild! So next time you have a burger, why not make it a veggie!