By Contributor on March 22, 2013

-- by Danielle Nierenberg

Friday, March 22, is World Water Day, and here in the United States we must learn to preserve this precious resource.

The United States is one of the world’s biggest users of water — a single American can use as much water as 900 Kenyans. As a result, water resources in the United States are shrinking.

In the last five years, there have been water shortages in almost every part of the country, including the worst drought in at least 25 years, which hit 80 percent of the country’s farmland in 2012. This year, at least 36 states are expecting local, regional, or statewide water shortages, even if the drought doesn’t persist.

Here are five steps you can take to save water in the United States:

1. Eating a little less meat. Switching from a meat-centered weekly menu to a diet rich in vegetables and grains could save 2,500 liters of water a day! And eating grass-fed and locally raised meat, eggs and dairy products can also save water.

2. Steam veggies instead of boiling. In general, steaming vegetables uses less water than boiling, and according to a study in the Journal of Food Quality, it is more nutritious. For example, boiling corn on the cob in a large pot may use 6-8 quarts of water, whereas steaming only uses 1-2 quarts. If you must boil, save the water for your garden or soup stock, or use it to clean pots.

3. Provide support for small-scale, family farms. Agricultural subsidies in the United States disproportionately support large-scale agribusinesses over the small-scale producers who are more likely to be engaged in sustainable food production and may be challenged by drought or commodity price fluctuations. Changes in government support services could reduce this deficit and improve food and water security.

4. Streamline water use in home gardens. During the summer months, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that nearly 40 percent of household water is used for watering lawns and gardens. National Geographic suggests incorporating native plants into your garden that are adapted to the local climate and often require less water. Manually watering plants, instead of using automatic sprinklers, cuts water use by 33 percent, according to the EPA. Consumers can also buy self-watering planters or construct rain barrels that can save you up to 1,300 gallons of water.

5. Reduce food waste. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports that nearly one-third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted throughout production, storage, transportation, consumption and disposal. Learn about your food’s shelf life and how long you can store food in your freezer. You can reduce food waste by buying only what you plan to eat, using leftovers to create new meals or donating food you can’t use to soup kitchens.

It’s more important than ever that, on this World Water Day, Americans find ways to save every drop.

Danielle Nierenberg is a food and agriculture expert and co-founder of Food Tank: The Food Think Tank (www.FoodTank.org). She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

You can read more pieces from The Progressive Media Project by clicking here.

Section: 

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

By State Representative Chris Taylor

I’m at my third American Exchange Legislative Council (ALEC)...

The conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued decisions today upholding the state’s controversial...

A new report by Human Rights Watch and the Columbia Law School focuses on the dubiousness of federal terrorism sting...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter

Get Breaking News and Alerts!