Our Favorite Thanksgiving Tradition: Water conservation, one apple at a time
Want to help farms save water? Want to keep water in streams for fish? Or, do you just want to save money on your water bill so you can give more toward gifts? You’ve been asking what YOU can do to conserve water so, here’s how to use water wisely by reducing at-home food waste!
Fall and winter are marked by their major holidays that center around the gathering of friends and families, sharing food and gifts and, well… waste. With Halloween behind us, we’re looking forward to Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and more. Now, no one is suggesting anything as extreme as skipping the pumpkin pie, but we do each want to be conscientious of our actions and how they affect our waterways and, ultimately, our communities. To show your gratitude for our precious Bitterroot water this year, start planning for how you can work to reduce your food waste - a gift that will keep on giving to the farms, fish, and families of the Bitterroot!
Where there is food waste, there is water waste. We can’t be perfect, but there are simple ways to reduce your chances of wasting food (and increase your chances of saving money). With over one billion tons of food waste each year, roughly 21% of our increasingly limited freshwater supply is being used to produce food that is never consumed. That means one of the easiest ways for you to engage in water conservation in the Bitterroot is to be responsible about your food purchasing and cooking decisions.
How much water does our food really require? Well, here’s just a little ‘food for thought’ – on average…
- 1 apple = 33 gallons of water
- 1 stick of butter = 165 gallons of water
- 1 margherita pizza = 332 gallons of water
In production of these three food items, we’ve already filled about 10 bathtubs of water. The United States wastes more food than any other country (you’re not surprised, right?), discarding around 30% of our food supply each year. That’d be the same as each US resident, on average, throwing the equivalent of 650 apples right into the trash. Or, wasting 21,450 gallons of water (or 429 bathtubs worth). The amount of water wasted rises rapidly when we remember that we’re wasting a diversity of food types, (not just apples) many of which have bigger ‘water footprints’. If other countries can be better about responsible food consumption, so can we.
There are dozens of ways our friends and neighbors are reducing their chances of food waste. For now, we’ve picked just one practice to focus on – planning. Look online if you’d like more advice!
Much of home-based food waste comes from poor planning and last-minute decisions. Be sure to make a thoughtful list of the food you’ll need to purchase instead of making it up as you shop. To make a good list, remember to check your freezer, pantry, and fridge beforehand so you know which items and quantities you’ll need to eat before they go bad. Then, build some meals around these items. And, when you make your list, consider how many meals you’ll eat at home, how often you will eat out, if you will eat leftovers for any of your meals, and so on. Thoughtful planning before shopping can help ensure you don’t overbuy!
We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, full of great local food, friends, and family!