When You Throw Food Out, You're Throwing Water Out Too

"[I]nside the 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year worldwide is 45 trillion gallons of water. This represents a staggering 24 percent of all water used for agriculture."

What's the Latest Development?


Adding to the increased focus on global food waste is a new report from the World Resources Institute linking that food to the water used to grow and/or process it. Seventy percent of freshwater use is for agriculture -- growing crops for human as well as animal consumption -- yet 24 percent of that water, or approximately 45 trillion gallons, is eventually wasted. Because fruits and vegetables contain more water than other foods, their loss takes up the biggest amount of water wasted. Conversely, although meat production requires much more water, the meat itself represents only four percent of the total amount of food waste by weight.

What's the Big Idea?

Unfortunately, not all of that lost water ends up back in the atmosphere through evaporation, at least not right away, and it almost certainly doesn't return to its original location given the way food travels from place to place. The report suggests that giving producers in developing countries greater access to better storage equipment could do a lot towards reducing food waste in those areas. As for developed countries, their citizens "need to do a better job of redistributing food [they] can't eat, and serving and ordering smaller portions."

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