Well, now we’ve done it: we’ve written a blog post on how to eat water-friendly foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So now that we’ve covered the major meals, let’s talk about how comes between the meals: what’s the virtual water footprint of your snacks?
As a refresher, there are a handful of simple rules of thumb when it comes to selecting water-conscious food. Avoid meat and animal products, avoid processed foods, and whenever possible, eat locally. These rules can provide good guidance for snacking, as well.
Avoiding meat is easy. Meat is a food that tends to only make appearances during meals, so with the exception of jerky and maybe summer sausage, most people don’t snack on meat – so a water-conscious eater can continue to not snack on meat. Avoiding animal products can be a bit trickier: no crackers and cheese, no milk with your cookies, heck, no baked goods in general because they tend to contain milk or eggs.
And even worse, avoiding processed snack foods can be almost impossible. Heck, it makes up seventy percent of our diet. Not convinced that processed foods are really that water-intensive? A bag of potato chips uses 40 gallons of water to produce. Processed cheese uses about twice as much water as “fresh” cheese. Americans consume 25,000 gallons of water through soybean oil each year, a product that’s only ever used in processed foods.
Our go-to suggestion has always been to eat primarily fruits and vegetables, but just this once, I’m going to back up that suggestion. Not to seem hypocritical, but when I want a between-meal snack, healthy fruits and vegetables are usually the last thing on my mind. So instead, today, I’m going to recommend some snacks that can sate your salty, fatty, greasy, processed cravings without making a negative virtual water impact.
The easiest way? Prepare food yourself. If you enjoy baked goods like snack cakes, muffins, and pop tarts, you can make your own. The internet is full of vegan substitution recommendations to replace the animal products in your foods, and since you’re preparing food at home, you don’t need to worry about the impact of processed foods.
And it doesn’t have to be baked goods either. Again, a bit of research will get you far. Did you know you could make your own potato chips? Or crackers? Whatever your favorite snack food is, there’s a good chance somebody has reverse-engineered the recipe and posted it for your perusal.
If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post without getting hungry and popping open a bag of banana chips, kudos. If like me, though, you’re fantasizing about what you might be able to dig out of your kitchen cupboard and it’s still two hours until dinner, hey, that’s OK. Just be sure to refer to this handy reference guide so your cravings can stay green.