Water and Food Waste Video and Stay Tuned for More!

This week the FAO is promoting discussions about food and water use and waste and what we need to do to plan for a better future surrounding those issues. This coincides rather remarkably with a big upcoming post that I’ve been working on for some time about ways to conserve water in agriculture. Stay tuned.

The below video’s main emphasis is on waste in the food and water systems. If 30 percent of all food produced is wasted, that means that the water that went into producing that food was also wasted, or, in some cases, contaminated. Food waste has really been grabbing media headlines lately, but I am of the opinion that a certain amount of waste is to be expected in these systems, as we do not live in a perfect world and because too many of us live in a world of abundance. Food perishes. Water evaporates, soaks into the ground, and cycles.

Yet, awareness of the issue, which is what the FAO is trying to promote, would be helpful. In America, it seems that everywhere we look there is food and too much of it. In my 20’s, I had a roommate who would throw food away, saying “it doesn’t matter whether I eat it, or throw it away, it’ll be gone either way and I don’t want to get fat.” With much of the global population overweight, that is an attitude that enters into the equation.

Is there room for improvement? Yes, certainly. With media focusing on food waste lately and increasingly, I think that people can be taught to change their ways. The reasons for waste are many, each one is difficult to overcome, and the reasons are completely different in the developing world than in the developed world.

Included in the video are these statements:
• One-fourth of the water used in irrigation is wasted
• 2,400 liters of water are used to make your hamburger sandwich
• Eighty percent of agricultural land in the OECD countries is used to produce meat

This video is a segway to my upcoming post.

UPDATE: To see the 4 part Water conservation series, it starts here.

5 thoughts on “Water and Food Waste Video and Stay Tuned for More!

  1. Mike Cahill

    I don’t believe you can ‘waste’ water growing food. Water used for irrigation remains a part of the water cycle. ‘Tossing out an apple is equivalent to seven times the water flushed down a toilet.’ Who says? This is emotional nonsense. The water used to grow the apple and contained in the abandoned apple remains part of the water cycle.

    1. K. McDonald Post author

      I think it depends how you frame the question. Conservation is a far better word to use, and it is the subject of my upcoming post(s). If water is conserved during the agricultural process, there is more available for more efficient use overall and farming can be done in a more sustainable way, too. When pumps deplete ancient water aquifers, it often happens for no good reason like corn ethanol or over-pumping in India, meaning that water has been wasted. If it happens in a soil impermeable area, those aquifers don’t get replenished easily. If flood irrigation isn’t done right it causes salinity in the soil, which “wastes” that growing area. And if too much irrigation was used to get too much food, then, the entire process and resources embedded in the system were wasted. Wetlands should be preserved for biodiversity, habitat, and health of the soils, too. Yes, there can be waste in the water system within the food system, though I agree with you labeling some of it “emotional” and your video on the water cycle was good and true.

  2. Mike Cahill


    I agree. Australia had a eastern seaboard drought that lasted 10 years and finally ended with floods in our summer of 2010-11. During this period the rice crop dropped from around one million tonnes to around 20,000 tonnes. The discipline of dealing with that drought made our irrigators incredibly efficient and water wise. I know that under what I guess are US Farm Bill regulations, Texan cotton growers last year reportedly had to keep irrigating dead plants to qualify for Government crop ‘insurance’. Curious. At a time when all the stream water had disappeared they had to pump out of the aquifers. Someone ought to write to Obama :0)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>