Water’s Role in Agriculture

Water? Is it important? Well is breathing important? Your answer should be yes to all of these questions. Water is not only vital for your survival, but is also vital for the agriculture industry. Oh and did I mention the agriculture industry is vital for you also (unless you have a green house in the backyard and make everything yourself)?


“Agriculture accounts for 80% of the Nation’s consumptive water usage” (USDA).


Yes that’s a lot of water but, it’s all used to feed us or the animals we eat. The average amount of water used to produce one pound of beef is 1,847 gallons. This is a lot of water, no doubt. Which brings me to an important question, is the amount of water we use to make animal protein worth it?


I personally would say yes it is worth it, and not just because I really enjoy a nice steak. The land that cattle live on are often too steep, hilly or rocky for the farming of plants to happen on. Therefore, cattle using these resources, hilly/steep/rocky forage, is a positive aspect to cattle farming, not a negative one. It is often times easy for cattle to overgraze a land area, causing top soil to be ruined. If a practice called ‘sustainable grazing technique’ is used, this helps prevent the cattle from overgrazing a land area.


Let’s talk about feeding of these animals, because most cattle are not just grazed. A cow’s diet outside of grass consists of grain, almond hulls, canola meal and citrus pulp. Grain is usually grown specifically for cows or is recycled after food or beverage production. For example, barley first is used to make beer, then the leftovers are mixed to make grain. Canola meal is the leftovers from producing canola oil. This causes for little waste in food production which is a positive thing.


Often times, because of the ruminant’s stomach structure, they are able to breakdown food we are not able to. Even if we tried, we could never breakdown grass. We don’t have the special tiny organisms in our stomachs like they have. Darn, so no Bermuda grass salad for us humans.


Overall, your choice to eat beef is exactly that: your choice. I fully respect it either way. But if you are not eating beef solely for the reason that it is hurting our water and food source, you may want to think again. Either way happy eating!


In Sisterhood,

Tarra Rotstein



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