Switching beef for chicken could reduce water footprint of US diets

[ad_1]

chicken

Switching from beef to chicken can reduce someone’s dietary water footprint

EyeWolf/Getty Images

Simple changes to US diets may help to save water. Five billion people globally could be facing water scarcity by 2050 if we don’t learn to use it more wisely in the face of more severe droughts connected to climate change. But a study focusing on US consumers shows they can help through dietary choices.

To examine how our food choices impact water resources, Martin Heller at the University of Michigan and his colleagues studied the diets of 16,800 people in the US. They calculated each person’s impact on water scarcity based on the types of foods they consumed, the irrigation water used in the production of these foods and the water scarcity in the regions where they were farmed.

Advertisement


The researchers found that, for the average US diet, beef consumption contributed most to water scarcity. Other foods that tended to require intense water use included almonds, cashews, walnuts, avocado, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower.

Foods that typically had lower impacts on water resources included chicken, peanuts, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and fresh peas.

The findings hint at ways people in industrialised societies could modify their diets to save water, say the researchers. For example, they calculate that swapping 100 grams of beef for chicken could cut the impact on water scarcity of the average US diet by up to 16 per cent, while replacing 100 grams of asparagus with Brussels sprouts could lower it by up to 45 per cent.

The important caveat is that the impact of food production on water supplies “can vary dramatically by geographic location”, says Heller. Tomatoes grown in some parts of drought-prone California, for example, require a lot irrigation compared with those grown in Louisiana, where it rains a lot.

Similarly, beef production in Australia has a far lower impact on water resources than in the US, says Brad Ridoutt at CSIRO in Melbourne, Australia. “I don’t think [conserving water] is about avoiding one type of food, it’s about incentivising and enabling transitions to happen on the production side of things,” he says.

But Heller thinks it is important to think about how we can change our diets as well. “I feel we need to look at both improving food production and adjusting our diets,” he says.

Journal reference: Nature Food, DOI: 10.1038/s43016-021-00256-2

Sign up to our free Fix the Planet newsletter to get a dose of climate optimism delivered straight to your inbox, every Thursday

More on these topics:

[ad_2]

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Battlefield 2042 Specialists & launch maps revealed By EA
Latest News

Battlefield 2042 Specialists & launch maps revealed By EA

After months of speculation, EA and DICE have finally unveiled Battlefield 2042, with the reveal trailer already live and a gameplay one set to premiere on Sunday, during Microsoft’s E3 conference. There may be additional information released at that point but for now we already know quite a bit about the new maps and the Specialists, 2042’s version of the […]

Read More
UK Travel Green List & Rules for entering
Latest News

UK Travel Green List & Rules for entering

Red list countries and territories What you must do if you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the 10 days before you arrive in England. If you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the last 10 days you will only be allowed to […]

Read More
Latest News

Belarus to face Slovakia in 2021 IIHF World Championship opener

Belarus will open the 2021 IIHF World Championship against Slovakia in Riga on 21 May, BelTA has learned. The Group B match will be played at the Olympic Sport Center. The faceoff is at 20.10. Belarus 5 TV channel will broadcast the match live. Ahead of the IIHF World Championship Belarus played a number of […]

Read More