For nearly two years now, we’ve been writing weekly posts on virtual water footprints of various common foods, clothes, and other items.  We take pride in our well-researched posts, providing you with numbers so you can know exactly how many gallons you consume when you go for that personal cheese pizza (333 gallons) glass of wine (29 gallons) or pasta (half a gallon for each noodle).  But that still leaves a bigger question: is that a lot?

A frequently-repeated statistic among virtual water enthusiasts is that a single almost uses nearly a gallon to grow.  This is a simple thing to remember, and hits close to home for Californians, for whom almond-growing is a local phenomenon.  That said, those thirsty almonds, which clock in with 600 gallons per pound,  still have a lower footprint, pound for pound, than beef (1,832.5 gallons per pound), butter (665 liters per pound) or chocolate (2,060 gallons per pound.) 

So if you’re choosing between the almond butter vs. regular butter, or debating whether your dessert should include chocolate cake or an almond roll, well, that gallon per nut statistic suddenly seems a lot more feasible.

The average person consumes nearly 3,500 liters of water per day.    That includes your morning coffee, your breakfast lunch and dinner, snacks, and drinks for the day.  If you’re inclined to already eat foods with a lower water footprint (say, if you’re a vegetarian or cook for yourself) you might consume less, but saving water the virtual water diet way just means eating less water than you would otherwise.  Our recommendation is to try to consume less than 1,000 liters of water per meal – a very realistic goal, especially since we have recipes on our website that have fewer than 500 liters per serving.  At three meals a day under 1,000 each, you can still indulge in snacks and coffee and clock in and under 3,000 liters.

El Nino may have brought the rain, but that doesn’t mean California’s through its dry spell.  On the contrary, we’re very much still mired in drought,  and the nation’s food basket’s water woes impact everyone.  Do your part and save, and next time you sit down to dinner, enjoy your almonds.