Ever wonder how much water goes into your wine and chocolate? Our Codi Yeager-Kozacek does the research for you.
For our official Circle of Blue Twitter account, I’m responsible for tweeting stories from Africa, Europe, and South America at 10 a.m., 4 p.m., and 10 p.m. Eastern time every Monday through Friday. Part of the reason for this is because the beats that I’m interested in and tend write about come from these parts of the world.
A daily regimen of looking for and tweeting out stories helps me to better spot trends and figure out what story I’d like to research next.
This happened on Thursday, when I came across an article on the National Geographic news site that contained an astounding fact: it takes as much as 10 bathtubs full of water to make a single chocolate bar.
“Most of those gallons are consumed by the cocoa plants in the field… [because] it’s the water needed for plant growth that typically accounts for the biggest portion of that item’s water footprint… The West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is the world’s largest cocoa producer, and its neighbors Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon rank high, as well. In fact, more than half of the water consumed to produce chocolates eaten in the United States comes from rain falling in West Africa.”
–Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project and Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society
As my colleague Keith Schneider wrote last month, “the trade in energy and agricultural products — the largest users of water — involves producing countries using their waters and consuming countries saving their waters. Researchers call this swap a trade of ‘virtual water,’ or the supplies used to grow, produce, or manufacture other goods.”
The NatGeo story got me thinking about how much water might go into some of the other staple Valentine’s Day indulgences like roses, wine, and diamonds. My colleague Kaye LaFond, Circle of Blue’s data guru, and I made this infographic, and we hope you enjoy it.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
What kinds of gifts do you usually give or receive on Valentine’s Day? Were you surprised at the hidden ‘virtual water’ cost of these items? Will it influence your purchasing choices next year? We want to hear from you. Contact Codi Yeager
Circle of Blue Reporter