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  • Writer's pictureAccokeek Foundation

Take the AF Water Footprint Challenge and Discover the Hidden Cost of the Food We Eat

50 one-gallon buckets represent HALF of the average American's daily water use.

50 one-gallon buckets represent HALF of the average American’s daily water use.

Did you know?

  1. Water scarcity affects 2.7 billion people at least once a month, each year? Or that, according a recent government report, within the next 10 years 40 out of 50 states in the U.S. will experience water shortages in some portions of their states? In fact, by 2025 two-thirds of the world’s population may be facing water shortages.

  2. A water footprint is the measurement of how much water is used for the products and services we use. In the U.S., household water usage accounts for only 8% of available water. Agriculture, and thus the food we eat, accounts for a whopping 70% of that water!

This is why, this June, through our Time Travel Adventure weekend interpretive program at the National Colonial Farm, we’re asking visitors, “What’s Your Water Footprint?” All month, visitors will explore how American water usage has changed since the 1770s, and learn about the hidden costs of our favorite foods as they discover exactly how much water is on their plates.

This video about the Best & Worst Foods for California’s Drought explains the relationship between food and water usage a bit more.

To take the message a little further, Accokeek Foundation staff has made a commitment to take the AF Water Footprint Challenge. Together, for one month, we are giving up some of our favorite foods — chocolate, coffee, almond milk, cheese, beef, nuts, and olive oil — as an experiment to test both our individual and collective water footprint based on the daily food choices we make.

For instance, I’ve chosen to give up coffee for one month. Gasp! Right, I know. But it really wasn’t that hard of a decision for me. Coffee is a joyous part of my morning routine. I enjoy waking up, steeping and pressing a fresh carafe, and sipping that first cup slowly while I read the day’s news and emails. Giving up this daily wake-up ritual was the hard part and not the coffee itself. Either way, by giving up coffee I estimate that I will conserve approximately 1,056 gallons of water per gallon of brewed coffee according to this article. This is pretty impressive considering that the average American uses 2,000 gallons of water each day!


By taking the challenge as a staff, collectively we estimate that we will save 9,371 gallons of water by the end of the month — just by changing one daily food habit. Seems to be a small sacrifice for the greater common good, don’t you think?

Will you join us in taking the AF Water Footprint Challenge? If so, tell us which food choice you’ve chosen to sacrifice and why. We’ll share our successes (and obstacles) throughout the month, and would love to hear from you as well!

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