John Lozier wrote:
> C'mon, get serious. 500 liters of water for a kilo of potatoes?
> 100,000 liters for a kilo of beef? Strains credulity, well past
> my breaking point.
Well, I haven't seen this ish of /The New Scientist/, but I've seen
figures in the past of a magnitude that surprised heck out of me and
got me to rethink the nature of the food/water cycle on this planet.
And also taught me about food systems. The figures I've seen were I
believe from WorldWatch...and they don't strike me conspiracists
(though their summary scientific evidence on global warming was
recently blasted as such on GRAZE-L by folks who didn't want to step
back and consider a challenge to their existing ways of thinking).
John, my guess is that these numbers derive from a whole-systems view
of food production, so that the 500 liters involved in a kilo of
potato production includes both watering and cleaning for market.
And the 100,000 liters involved in beef production is based on the
amount of water it takes to produce the grain to produce the meat in
a conventional feedlot-system, as well as the water it takes to
water the animals and clean up after them.
I don't think 500 liters per kilo of potatoes sounds out of whack.
That's only 125 gallons...ever hand-carried water in a community
garden all summer? %^) Never mind the washing up later.
As for the meat, 100,000 liters sounds pretty reasonable to me based
on what I see on dairy farms here. A dairy cow will drink, what, 200
liters a day? (About 50 gallons, about four liters per gallon.) Times
six months. There's 36,000 liters, just for drinking. Before it
even starts eating grain. And that's on a whole-cow basis. I.e.,
before you've carved off just the parts of the cow you want to eat,
without considering the water it takes in slaughtering, cleanup, etc.
Your points about appropriately conducted, management intensive
rotational grazing as a more resource-efficient system are well
taken...that is, I agree...so now let's work for the day when most
beef is so produced! (A blatant pro-MIRG plug.)
Sooooo...instead of your rejecting these figures out of hand and
calling them bullshit, you might pick up that copy of /The New
Scientist/, evaluate the data for yourself, and, if you find them
credible, use them as a resource-based, whole-food-system
justification for management-intensive rotational grazing, and a way
of supporting it. I don't know how things are in West Virginia, but
even here in Wisconsin, where MIRG is very strong, there is still
plenty of resistance to it, and lots of need for such justification!
> Looks cooked up to me, in a plot to pile on animal agriculture in
> general, and beef producers in particular.
A plot? Good heavens. Anybody with the type of imagination to
believe in or cook up plots generally lacks the will to carry it
out. Never mind the organizational skills to target and influence a
specific audience. Just the two-decade-experience-based opinion of a
> I challenge anyone to justify these remarkable estimates. Until someone
> does, all of us should consider them BS.
John, you're as qualified to do that as anyone here. How 'bout it?
A friendly challenge from your GRAZE-L neighbor.
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
Voice: (608) 262-8018 FAX: (608) 265-3020
Beloveds, the thing about democracy is that it
is NOT neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a
certain relish for confusion. --Molly Ivins