Fact Sheets Make the Case for Supporting Water Supply for Farmers

  • by ACWA Staff
  • May 28, 2024
  • Water News

The California Farm Water Coalition (CFWC) has released three educational fact sheets shedding light on the water needed to produce the food Californians consume daily, and the risk we face from unsustainable foreign food production.

All three fact sheets are available online, and individually they connect water use to food consumption from the following three perspectives.

Where Does Farm Water Go?

California’s population of 39 million requires a staggering 11.3 trillion gallons of water annually to grow enough food and fiber to meet its needs, as described in the first fact sheet, “Where Does Farm Water Go?”. However, current water supplies fall short, leaving a gap of 38% between the water used to grow our food and the demand on food production by the state’s population. Despite a 14% decline in water usage by California farms over the past 35 years, the growing population will require an additional 1 million acre-feet of water annually just to meet this increasing food supply demand. This trend underscores the urgency of managing both water resources and food production in the face of climate uncertainty.

Sample Daily Menu

The second fact sheet, “Sample Daily Menu,” breaks down the water requirements for a selection of menu items for one person over a day, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate recipe guide. For three meals, plus snacks and beverages, the total daily water requirement to produce the menu of items amounts to 810.3 gallons per person for a single day’s meals. Most people think of daily water consumption as water for cooking, cleaning, bathing, and outdoor watering. This insight into the water footprint using a daily menu highlights the significance of nutrition as a significant part of our daily water demand.

Why Local Production Matters

America’s grocery stores may seem brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables year-round, but behind the vibrant displays lies a sobering truth: a significant portion of these products are imported from other countries. The third CFWC fact sheet, “Our Food Supply – Sustainability & Imports,” opens the door to discussions about the policies and regulations that have made Americans more dependent on foreign-produced food.

According to data from the USDA, a staggering 60.9% of the fresh fruit and 38.8% of the fresh vegetables consumed in the United States are sourced from abroad.

That’s a 228% increase of fruit and 479% increase of vegetable imports since 1980. This heavy reliance on imports poses a concerning risk to the security and sustainability of our food supply, particularly given the alarming challenges overseas producers face, from political strife, war, degrading natural resources, and inconsistent food safety standards.

For more background, visit a blog post by CFWC Executive Director Mike Wade on the Northern California Water Association website.

The CFWC is a non-profit, educational organization committed to sharing fact-based information about the important role water plays in the food, fiber, and nursery products grown in California.

 

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