Almonds — we are told by those who want further cutbacks on agricultural water deliveries so urban lawns can stay lush and so they can hose out their garbage cans and hose down their driveways on a weekly basis — are water guzzlers.
I ate 30 almonds before I typed this column. Based on water consumption data to grow food that means I popped 32 gallons worth of water into my mouth.
It’s such a hideous waste, right? Before you take another bite out of your one third-pound burger it took 150 gallons of water to produce that hamburger patty. If you had lettuce on it, another 3.5 gallons of water was used to grow a head of lettuce. A tomato takes another 3.3 gallons and the buns took 3 gallons.
Compared to almonds you are practicality drowning in water when you eat a hamburger.
And as far as nuts go, almonds are downright miserly. It takes 1.1 gallons of water to grow an almond but 4.9 gallons of water to grow a walnut.
And if you want to eat healthy a crown of broccoli requires 5.9 gallons of water.
And while much ado is made about almonds consuming water as California’s biggest legal crop in terms of value, what about the Golden State’s biggest crop overall — legal or otherwise — when it comes to money generated? An ounce of marijuana requires 34 gallons while an ounce of almonds requires 25.3 gallons of water.
It’s just not food that uses water. You’re wearing 100 gallons of water if the shirt you have on is made of cotton. If you have on denim jeans, it took 1,800 gallons of water.
A 8-by-11-inch piece of paper took three gallons of water to make. A pound of steel requires four gallons.
If you’re reading this on a smartphone, just one chip inside consumed 10 gallons of water in the production process.
It takes 2.5 gallons of water to refine a gallon of gasoline. If you consider yourself “green” and use ethanol fuel it takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol. That means if you drive a Prius hybrid a hundred miles a week for a month while burning ethanol you can drain a good-sized swimming pool.
Everyone knows by now that restaurants in California won’t serve you water unless you ask for it under the directive handed down by Gov. Jerry Brown.
But before you get too smug about saving water by passing on water and ordering a craft beer, it takes 20 gallons of water to make a pint of beer.
And if you drink water, do so from the tap if you want to save water. That’s because a gallon of water from the tap is a gallon of water. Buy a gallon of water in the form of eight 16.9 ounce plastic bottles and it takes 15.8 gallons of water — 14.8 gallons to make the plastic bottles and a gallon to fill them.
But the roughly two gallons of water represented by that 8 ounce bottle of water you buy at Starbucks is nothing compared to the latte that guzzles 53 gallons of water by the time it is served to you.
If anything good comes of the drought besides realizing that we waste an awful lot of water frivolously by hosing down sidewalks or letting faucets run while waiting for water to warm up, it is the realization that we have taken the compound H20 for granted.
We are ferocious consumers of water and don’t even realize it.
California is in the throes of a fourth year of a severe drought. It may end in a year or so or may drag on for another 10 to 50 years based on evidence derived from tree rings.
We can ill afford to waste any water.
That means we all have to make choices.
Would you prefer letting your lawn be stressed a bit or reduce the amount of food you consume? Do you want to hose down your driveway to forgo lattes and beers?
Wise use of water is essential.