Thanksgiving: How Much Water Does It Take

Before accusing anyone of being a Thanksgiving Scrooge, please consider that the most significant food holiday in the U.S. is an ideal opportunity to discuss water use for food. Water is used in all steps of the Thanksgiving process and every meal. What we eat can collectively make a huge difference in water use and waste. It may be the simplest and most effective way to approach today’s water challenges.

The Ground Rules

Water use includes all aspects of the process from the water the animals drink, cleaning equipment for farming to the living spaces for animals. In addition, water is used during butchering and the processing of meat. Vegetables take water, along with feed for the animals and even the packaging materials take water to make, too. By now, it’s probably pretty apparent this adds up to be a considerable amount.

The Numbers

According to the Water Footprint Network, raising one pound of turkey takes around 266 gallons of water. A roasted 15-pound turkey with herb butter then will use over 4,330 gallons of water. Consider that the average swimming pool holds about 18,000 gallons of water. And the average front yard of a home watering turf will use 210 gallons in 10 minutes. So skipping the turkey you could save enough to water your grass for a full month at the height of summer!

Besides the turkey, water usage in other Thanksgiving Day dinner staples can add up as follows:

A bowl of mashed potatoes with butter- 275 gallons
Dinner rolls – 547 gallons
Pecan pie – 1086 gallons
A glass of wine – 36 gallons
A gallon of beer – 296 gallons
Coffee – 1056 gallons of water for a gallon of coffee

Click here to see a personal water footprint calculator to get a better of idea of water use in food and where you might focus your efforts to support savings.

How To Save Water On Thanksgiving

A few simple changes in meal shopping can significantly affect how much is used on Thanksgiving. In addition, focusing on fresh vegetables as the main course and turkey as a side satisfies the craving for the turkey while saving water too.

  • Select meats with the least amount of processing.
  • Turkey and chicken have lower water footprints than pork or beef.
  • Fresh vegetables use less water than frozen vegetables and taste better too.

We wish all our readers, customers, and teammates a Happy Thanksgiving! We are thankful for each of you. We’re also grateful for the many opportunities we are given daily to make a difference in sustainability and conservation while providing the grower with more crop per drop.



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2 Responses

  1. Great approach! but I have a different view for it. I think inviting people to skip the Turkey for the one-day tradition is a bit of extreme move because those Turkeys have been already raised and butchered and already available for the season and by not buying, we will add to the storage and consume more water and energy. Thank you.

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