Gridtern Allison Bart gives you the low-down on "hidden" water usage.
Omnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike may not always realize how much water goes into sustaining their lifestyles and comforts. Food and otherwise, many of the resources we rely on daily use hefty amounts of water, some natural and some added by humans.
Sitting down with a friend for burgers, it’s hard to fathom that the one pound of beef requires about 1,799 gallons of water, from the grasses and grains the animal ate to the water it drank. The cup of milk you pour into your morning’s cereal has a hidden 54.9 gallons of water that went into the raising and grazing of the cattle. Or how about that glass of wine with with dinner? From growing the grapes to producing the vino, 1,008 gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of wine, 63.4 gallons for just one cup.
Even items that are not edible, like oil and paper, require vast amounts of water. Extracting oil for fuel use consumes 1.01 gallons of water per kilowatt-hour; 500 sheets of paper requires 1,321 gallons of water for production.
This interactive map, “The Hidden Water We Use,” on National Geographic’s website allows you to explore the water required for various foods and resources, and gives you the opportunity to compare and contrast any two items.
How much hidden water do you use?