Thirsty Cows

Written by Spencer Anderson, ESLLC 2017-2018

One issue that the U.S. will face within the next twenty years is water scarcity. Aquifers drop every year, summers become dryer, and populations grow. As the demand for decreasing commodities increases, we must adapt and become smarter with the way we use water. The number one use of water is agriculture. The main use of water within agriculture is irrigation of crops. These crops are used to feed people, but they are also used for livestock. Livestock in the U.S. is a main contributor to water scarcity.

To raise a beef cow from birth to slaughter takes 2400 gallons of water per pound of beef. That is a ridiculous amount of water. You could skip showering for six months and save the same amount of water as it takes to produce a pound of beef. You could fill 8 large hot tubs with that amount of water. Beef is incredibly inefficient and wasteful, and yet America consumed 52.2 billion pounds of meat last year. Cattle and crops are often raised in semi-arid environments where land is cheap. This puts strain on wells and rivers. To fix this problem, Americans need to consume less beef. If we don’t the wells could run dry.

Growing traditional crops like wheat takes only ten percent of the water per pound as beef. For 100 gallons of water you could have two pounds of apples, three pounds of carrots, or four pounds of wheat or potatoes. Meat is simply not an effective way to get energy. The justification for meat is simple, it tastes amazing. But if you had to choose between beef or water, the choice would be simple.

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