Monday, October 13, 2008

Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink...

I am going to start practicing in case I get the spot blogging about living an ecologically sustainable lifestyle. This may be boring. I would REALLY appreciate your feedback. Here goes…

I’d like to examine how much water a normal American might use in a day for the incredible thing that is their body. This will include water that is used directly for consumption, as well as the amount of water required in producing the food you eat. Let’s start with breakfast…
The typical American breakfast will include cereal and coffee. The Saturday morning breakfast will include an egg, two pieces of toast, two strips of bacon, eight ounces of orange juice, and coffee.
The amount of water required to produce 1 cup of Honey bunches of oats includes the water for crop production (corn, wheat, sugar, almonds, oats, vegetable oil, etc.) and the water required to process this into cereal. I will not include the water required to wash the dish, maintain agricultural equipment, hydrate the farmer that happens to cultivate some thousand acres, or the water required to transport all of this (which would probably increase the final number by about 10-20%.
For a cup of milk on your cereal, water is required to wash milk cows, hydrate milk cows, and grow feed for milk cows, among other things. From my thesis research I know that these three capture some 97% of the whole, so I will leave it at that.
For a cup of coffee (if you don’t like coffee, you aren’t American, so this whole post doesn’t apply to you anyway. I’d recommend checking out, there is water required to produce coffee, ship it to the Northwestern quardasphere, and brewing it. Most of the water required comes from the agricultural production. It would be appropriate to mention here that there is a LARGE amount of water required in the drilling and refinement of petroleum into diesel fuel.

Assuming your cereal’s ingredients were produced in the US of A…
your cup of Honey Bunches of Oats is virtually imbedded with five gallons of high quality H2O.

Holsteins produce Ninety percent of American cow’s milk, the rest comes from Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernseys, Jerseys, and American Shorthorns. My point is, ninety percent come from the same type of cow, which is important only because it shows that the dairy system in the U.S. is about as efficient as it is going to get. Anyway, to make a long story a Shorthorn, you cup of milk on your cup, which you will pour over your cereal, will cost the current available freshwater supply a ridiculous 45 gallons of freshwater.

The coffee you will drink tomorrow morning could come from MANY places on our globe. Most likely, though, it comes from Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, India, Guatemala, or the Ivory Coast. The water required to produce a cup of coffee from any of these places ranges from 11 to literally 111 gallons. This stat is without any outliers. You could go to Starbucks any day of the week and buy coffee from each of these countries.

For you to eat a bowl of cereal and drink a cup of coffee tomorrow morning, you will indirectly consume somewhere between 61 and 161 gallons of freshwater. This does not include the six ounces you used to brew the coffee, however.

I have done the same analysis for your Saturday morning breakfast, but to avoid boring you, I have just listed it below!

Breakfast Item Indirect Freshwater Consumption
One chicken egg 35 gallons
Two pieces of toast 20 gallons
Two strips of bacon 46 gallons
8 oz. orange juice 49 gallons
1 cup coffee Between 11 and 111 gallons
Total 161-261 gallons

Probably the best take home message would be that grains use much less water than animal products. I will delve into this more later!

One of my hats

I am applying for a job blogging about living a sustainable lifestyle. I really hope I get it. It would be much different than this blog, but it is something I am very passionate about. My friend Erik was talking this weekend about how much of the media just gives us all this doom and gloom news, and I have to agree with him. The only thing is, I have to say there are some big obstacles we as a people need to get over, and they stem from a lot of "systems" that are in place. My favorite kind of thing to do is learn about culture and see connections with what I think the truth is and what ecology tells us, and look for solutions. This is what I would like to do in this blog.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Hey, you may know this, but I post poems and short stories I like at the link to the right, titled, "poems I like."