The obliviousness of water footprints

Shopping Supermarket Market Goods Food MeatI was sitting next to a Texas-based businessman from Saudi Arabia on the plane. He was highly amused to see me eating vegetarian. “If you give me vegetarian, I will throw it away and eat you!” he joked and bared his teeth.

I gulped and organised my thoughts on how to use this teachable moment to talk about water footprints without being offensive. He was already well-aware that vegetables were more healthy than meat but didn’t care because he’d rather live short and eat what he loved than live long eating vegetables. He wasn’t even co-relating his numerous health complaints like gout with diet. Caring for animals’ feelings would not cut ice with him because his favourite hobby was hunting.

“How do you like to drink toilet water?” I asked. Continue reading

Where are the managers?

A recent report has highlighted what has been known for a long time – that large quantities of food are being wasted in processing, transport, supermarkets and in people’s kitchens. More than enough food is being produced to feed the entire world – the bottleneck lies in distribution. “Farmers have to supply food to take care of both our necessary consumption and our wasteful habits,” says the report produced by SIWI, FAO and IWMI.

Since agriculture takes up most of the available water in the world, waste of food also implies that enormous amounts of water are being wasted. “The magnitude of food and water losses is large enough that we must pay close attention,” warns the report. The losses are taking place at a time when 1.2 billion people, most of them in Asia, do not have enough water to meet all their needs. Continue reading

A Raw Deal for Vegetarians


It is the same story at every conference I attend. At lunchtime, I move towards the food-laden tables hoping to find something that I can eat, but end up being thoroughly disappointed. The only items on offer for vegetarians are salads; all very good to look at, but not at all filling. On the other hand, meat-eaters have a variety of dishes to choose from. Why are vegetarians given a raw deal? Continue reading