How Much Water Is Used To Grow The Food We Eat

by Plenty07/10/2017

When we hear about water shortages, most of us picture drinking water, and the challenges faced by communities that don’t have access to it. But did you know that running short of water for agriculture is actually the far bigger concern?

Across the globe, an astonishing 70 to 90 percent of the world’s water usage goes to growing food. And even in developed countries like the U.S., with better infrastructure and more advanced farming methods, we’re sending 70 percent of our water straight to the fields.

To crops like corn, which takes 73 gallons of water to produce just one ear, and avocado, which requires 70 gallons for just one buttery fruit. And they aren’t even the real water-guzzlers; one artichoke alone takes 147 gallons to grow.

And the problem is not going away; experts estimate that over the next 50 years, agriculture will have to feed another two to three billion people. According to the Water Institute, water will be the biggest limiting factor when it comes to our ability to meet that challenge.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Experts have long warned that we need to change how we grow food to prevent environmental degradation and preserve the water resources we have. And today we can. We have better methods ready and able to grow food in ways that don’t drain aquifers, silt rivers, and damage our ecosystems.

In Plenty’s indoor farms, water is infused with minerals and other nutrients and then reused in a continuous cycle. At the same time, state-of-the-science sensors, automation systems, and software allow us to control temperature, light, and humidity to best promote plant growth with the least possible energy and water waste.

The results are revolutionary; we’ve shown that we can grow crops like greens, herbs, and strawberries at up to 350 times the yield of a conventional farm while using just 1 percent of the water.

Think of it this way: We’re modifying the environment to better fit the needs of the plants, rather than modifying the plants to fit the environment.

And the winners are you, the planet, and future generations, who get fresh, local produce that’s pesticide-free and rich with the nutrients that only locally grown food can ensure.

Read more:

Johns Hopkins University, Water Magazine: Agriculture—Meeting the Water Challenge

Research from recent issue of Issues in Science and Technology, published by the International

Water Management Institute: Water Scarcity: The Food Factor