Eating for the world

“If you eat a little less meat and a little less dairy you’ll dramatically reduce the impact of your diet on the environment. Just think: one 1lb (or 500g) of ground beef for your family uses over 28,000 cups (or 6,810 litres) of water to produce – that’s enough to fill 20 bathtubs to the brim, and then some” – Oxfam

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have just released a book of articles and presentations that examines how to make sure that everyone has the food they need to be healthy and happy – also known as being ‘food secure’.

It talks about the more than 900 million people in the world who suffer from hunger and the 1.5 billion who are overweight or obese – and it examines what a sustainable diet would be that could feed everyone in the world properly.

On a practical level, in terms of what that means for us in Aotearoa, there are changes that we can make in our diets to contribute to global food security.


6 Comments Posted

  1. Um I think our collective bellies in NZ are too small to make a dent in the global hunger space – we already export 90 plus % of what we produce.

    Mojo hope you realise most NZ beef is raised on grass, that grows from natural sunlight and rainfall. Gurantee your figures relate to cut and carry barn housing systems.

    You heart is in the right place, but this is pure greenwash for the NZ context.

  2. @SAm

    The 12-15k/per kilo number has been bandied about since 2001 but I understand it was principally based on US data where the water-costs were calculated for feet-lot raised cattle – heavy on grains and hay and no natural grass consumption.

    So yes, the figures would probably be different in NZ though who knows by how much.

    As a side note, AgResearch has some interesting numbers re the water footprint of milk production though; Waikato 945L/milk litre, 1084 for Canterbury.
    It’s important to note though that only a proportion of this is as a result of irrigation – Canterbury is unsurprisingly the biggest irrigator at about 250L/milk litre.

  3. I read a careful analysis of this claim sometime ago which showed it to be wildly erronious. Can’t recall just where i saw it but suspect that it was in “Meat, a benign extravagance” by Simon Fairlie. Incidentally, this book persuaded George Monbiot that he was badly wrong about veganism

  4. “one 1lb (or 500g) of ground beef for your family uses over 28,000 cups (or 6,810 litres) of water to produce”

    I doubt it. What farming and butchering methodology are they considering? Where in the world did the figures come from? I often see similar stats to this thrown around as if everyone in the world farms in the same way (and sometimes the stats are plain wrong).

  5. Hang on, is it 1 pound or 454 grams? Seems as though 500 grams would use more water, bit so what is it? Accuracy is important.

    First, there seems to be this foolish assumption that water used = water lost, and yet there is a closed water cycle on this planet. What is used ends up being recycled and reused.

    Second, is there a source for this or is it an OOTB calculation? Where was the calculation made? There are many different farming methods, water use is not the same amongst all of them.

    Third, there is no problem with food shortage, it is food distribution..

    Sorry, but I’m not giving up my steak no matter how many pics of starving kiddies you thrust under my nose. Because guess what? If I don’t eat it, it doesn’t mean it goes to some starving kid in Africa, does it? Changing my diet will not affect the world’s food security – changing food distribution will.

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