Water conservation can involve a lot of small steps that add up in big ways.  Turning off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth, showering every other day, and “letting it mellow,” are all things we’ve heard about for years.  But you’ve probably never thought about your biggest source of consumption: your diet.

That’s right.  Every food you eat had to be made somehow, and nearly 100% of the time, the process of making food uses water.  Luckily for we conservation-oriented people, we can refer to virtual water, which is a tool for measuring the amount of water used in irrigation, processing, and shipment of the plants that form the basis of all food (even food that’s not plants, like meat.  Animals eat plants, we eat the meat, et cetera.)

So when you’re writing up a grocery list and planning your meals for the coming week, give a thought to your virtual water impacts.

Take breakfast, for example.  We covered various breakfast foods before, and determined that unfortunately,  most foods that start the day off right leave the earth wrong.  Not to worry, though; we provided some helpful meal suggestions to fire up your morning in a water-conscious way.

And then there’s lunch.  Most Americans eat lunch out at least a few times per week. And it’s no wonder.  We have to work, we have school, and on weekends we want to get out and about.  That means lunch is usually a meal prepared in advance and brought in a brown paper bag – but that doesn’t mean we can’t still save water at the middle of the day.

I took a bit of a slightly different tack with dinner by examining my roots.  I grew up in the Midwest, with all the food stereotypes a Midwestern diet entails.  In our dinner post, I took a traditional, very water-intensive meal and substituted a few ingredients to get a supper that’s just as nutritious, just as delicious, and just as filling as the original, but with a fraction of the water waste.

And no discussion of our diet is complete without taking a look at snacks, too.

The truth of the matter is, you will never be able to avoid consuming virtual water.  Nor should you; food is a cornerstone of our health, our culture, and our lives, and being able to enjoy what we eat is key to the human experience.  We’re just here to make sure you can make green choices while doing right by your taste buds, as well.