Water footprint and food production

Brazil is currently undergoing a severe water crisis, which is affecting the quality of life of Brazilians and various sectors of the economy. The problem is so serious that, according to the UN, this crisis can affect food safety of the population in 2015.

According to Law No. 11.346, of September 15, 2006, to food and nutrition security"consists in the realization of the right of everyone to regular and permanent access to quality food, in sufficient quantity, without compromising access to other needs essential, based on health-promoting dietary practices that respect cultural diversity and that are environmentally, culturally, economically and socially sustainable”.

Before the lack of water, everyone's right to access to food may be undermined. The scarcity of water, in addition to jeopardizing the supply, makes food production difficult. Without a good harvest, for example, the price of available products increases considerably, making it difficult for a large portion of the population to purchase.

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Each food, whether of animal or vegetable origin, needs a certain amount of water to be produced. Plants need water to establish themselves, and animals, in addition to drinking it, need indirectly from the water used in the production of vegetables that are part of their diet or from the diet of your fangs.

The volume of fresh water that is used to produce goods or services, taking into account the amount of water consumed and polluted during the process, is called water footprint. With this important indicator, we can calculate the amount of fresh water needed to produce food and other products, in addition to outlining strategies for the intelligent use of this important resource Natural.

Although we often think only about the water we are going to drink, the water footprint of certain products is much larger than we might imagine. See below the amount of water needed to produce some products, according to Water Footprint Network:

To produce 1 kg of beef, 15,400 liters of water are needed.

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To produce a single 250 gram tomato, 50 liters of water are needed.

10,400 liters of water are used for every kilogram of sheep meat.

About 553 liters of water are needed for each kilo of butter produced.

To produce 1 kg of pig, 5,988 liters of water are needed.

For the production of 1 kg of bread, about 1608 liters of water are used.

For a 250 ml glass of milk to be produced, about 255 liters of water are needed.

To produce 1 kg of cowhide, 17,093 liters of water are needed.

For the production of chocolate, 17,196 liters of water are needed for each kilo.

About 74 liters of water are used to produce just 250 ml of beer.

Therefore, we can see that the amount of water needed to produce food of animal origin is greater. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that large animal farms have a high negative environmental impact.

However, the production of food, both of plant and animal origin, is necessary. Thus, in order for the water footprint to be smaller, ways must be created to make the best use and reuse of water. THE irrigation of many cultures, for example, it is made today through rainwater, which reduces the excessive use of water, which can then be used for consumption by the population.

It is essential that we analyze our behavior in relation to water use, since the small portion of available fresh water must be shared by the population, who will use it to drink, cook, carry out domestic activities, produce food, among many others actions. Making conscientious use and seeking ways to reuse water are necessary measures for everyone to have quality of life.

By Ma. Vanessa dos Santos


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