Strawberries must battle over 200 different pests on their way to red-ripe perfection, which is why they are often associated with heavy fertilization, and organic alternatives are often hard to come by. Thankfully, strawberries do hit the jackpot when it comes to water footprint totals, at a mere 33 gallons per pound.
When it comes to the water footprint of foodstuffs, the total is calculated by combining the actual water in the product with all the virtual water embedded in every action associated with the cultivation, collection, and delivery of that item. For example, the farmer, food processor, retailer, and consumer all consume actual water when completing their various tasks, be it growing, harvesting, delivering, or purchasing a food item. But the cultivation and exportation of food brings with it a variety of embedded water costs, including those associated with the byproducts created by food cultivation (agricultural runoff for example), as well as the items and actions necessary for the production and distribution of food. (This includes fertilizers and insecticides, as well as the fuel required for transportation and the packaging that keeps the food safe and fresh as it travels from field to home.) When making decisions about what food to buy, these basic tips can lower the water footprint of your grocery list: buy local, buy organic, buy in season, and buy food with little or no additional packaging.
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