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Embodied water

All of our food and products require energy and water to produce. The amount of water this requires (embodied water) varies.

When thinking about reducing the amount of water we consume and use, it's easy to jump straight to dripping taps and shorter showers. It is however, worth considering the water we indirectly use: the water that goes into growing our food and manufacturing products.

For example, producing a kilo of beef requires water to grow the grass and other feed for the cow, drinking water throughout the animal's life and water for the processing and packaging of the meat. Added together, producing one kilogram of Australian beef can require 17,000 litres of water.

Embodied water is calculated differently by different organisations, but these figures provide an indication of just how much water really goes into getting out food to market:

  • 1 serve of lettuce (approx. 1 cup) – 11 litres
  • 1 serve of white bread (1 slice) – 40 litres
  • 1 serve of broccoli (77g) – 41 litres
  • 1 serve of white rice (280g) – 95 litres
  • 1 serve of tofu (approx. 1/2 cup) – 229 litres
  • 1 egg (60g) – 241 litres
  • 1 serve chicken (230g) – 1250 litres
  • 1 serve of steak (230g) – 4660 litres.

For more information go to Environment Victoria website.