One Spinach Leaf = 1 Gallon of Water


As I leafed through this article from the New York Times my jaw progressively dropped. The story and the underlying analysis brings the terrible Californian drought in to a very clear focus. The increasing lack of water in the state is causing policy makers to enact ever-tougher water restrictions and forcing farmers and consumers to use less and less of the precious liquid.

While the problem in California pales in comparison to the human cost of past global droughts in Africa and Asia, the situation nonetheless is becoming increasingly dire, especially for farmers and those who depend on their produce (most of us). I’ve been following developments in California for sometime, but I must admit until now I had never pondered the actual cost, in terms of water, of some of the foods I eat. Soul-searching required.

So, here’s a quick snapshot from some of the mountains of data:

The average American consumes over 300 gallons of California water each week by eating food that was produced there.

One spinach leaf — yes, one — requires just under 1 gallon of water to grow until ripe for eating.

It takes 4.1 gallons of water to produce a slice of California avocado each week, which is what an average American eats each week.

It takes over 1 gallon of water to produce ONE California almond.

It takes 42.5 gallons of water to produce 3 mandarin oranges.

Four glasses of milk require almost 144 gallons of water (most of this goes to growing the feed for the cattle that produce our milk and beef).

A handful of strawberries needs 1 gallon of water.

Check out the detailed research here.

Image: Spinach leaves. Public domain.