Friday, November 20, 2015

"Gobbling" Water This Thanksgiving

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Ah, Thanksgiving, One of my favorite holidays. Why? It centers around a delicious meal, family, and appreciating the blessings in our lives.

We don't often think about the water footprint of a large meal like a traditional Thanksgiving dinner spread - turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce. And wine, of course. But think big picture about the amount of water required to produce that meal - from the water used to grow the vegetables to the amount needed to feed/house/process the turkey. Some estimates:

  • Turkey requires roughly 468 gallons of water per pound; so a 20 pound bird takes 9,360 gallons of water.
  • Canned cranberry sauce takes 1,559 gallons to produce and hold the shape of the can when it's removed.
  • My personal favorite - mashed potatoes. A whopping 2,528 gallons for the spuds.
  • And a close second - wine, which takes between 50 and 75 gallons for one 8 ounce glass (depending on where the wine is produced/shipped).
This doesn't even factor in other Thanksgiving staples, like stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, or pumpkin pie!

It really is astonishing when you think about the "hidden" water in the foods we eat. Of course, we don't suggest skipping Thanksgiving dinner, but explore about ways you can shrink the water footprint of your meal:
  • Buy local! Reduce the distance your food travels before it hits your plate.
  • Go light on the turkey and heavy on locally-grown vegetables.
And there are lots of ways to conserve water directly when preparing your feast and during clean up:
  • Thaw food in the refrigerator instead of running hot water over frozen food.
  • Fill a bowl with water to rinse your vegetables instead of letting the tap run to wash them.
  • Don't let the water run when washing dishes by hand. Plug the drain and fill the sink with soapy water.
  • Skip the "prewash" and just scrape plates clean before putting them in the dishwasher.
  • Fill the dishwasher to the brim and run it while you take a turkey-induced nap.
Above all, be thankful for the clean and safe groundwater that we use everyday. It's the water we drink and the water that grows our food!

From all of us at The Groundwater Foundation, Happy Thanksgiving!
Groundwater Foundation Staff, from left: Jennifer Wemhoff,
Cindy Kreifels, Doug Sams, Lori Davison, Jane Griffin,
Jessica Wheeler, Anthony Lowndes.

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