How Much Water Do We Eat?

Today is World Water Day. On average, we consume 923 gallons* of water a day. Some of it is used for household needs and industrial goods like clothes. But most of it, 92%, is the virtual water embedded in the food we grow, through the water used to irrigate crops and to grow animal feed, and as drinking water for farm animals. 


We use about 40 gallons of water a day for drinking and washing. But how much water do we eat? To make one pound of cheese, 381 gallons of water are needed. This amount includes the water used to grow the feed for animals. To grow one pound of apples, on average, 98.5 gallons of water will be used. But to get a pound of beef to our table, it will take almost twenty times more water than for apples--1,845 gallons. And a pound of coffee “embeds” an astonishing 2,265 gallons of water.

The concept of virtual water was developed by Tony Allan, Professor of Geography at Kings College London, and later elaborated into water footprint. You can learn more about the immense amounts of virtual water hidden in our food with the free e-book released today "The Water We Eat”.

What are the solutions? We can cut down on the foods that require a lot of water to produce, such as red meats, and reduce our food waste. And learn more about the water we consume, starting with the virtual water quiz here.

More resources:

  • A virtual water video by Angela Morelli, an information designer, and her TEDx talk

Photo Credit: Angela Morelli,

*1 gallon = approx. 3.79 liters

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