Did you know that the food that we eat also is the largest contributor to water consumption on the planet? In fact, according to UNESCO’s World Water Assessment Program, about 70% of all water drawn from rivers, lakes, and aquifers is utilized for crops, and this number goes up to 90% in developing nations.
Consider this: a conventional head of lettuce produces a water footprint of 65 litres in order to reach your table. 65 litres!! And lets not even dare talk about beef production. The numbers are truly shocking at 15,500 litres per 1 kilogram — enough to fill a small swimming pool.
I know it’s hard to see the bigger picture sometimes, but let’s just take lettuce as a benchmark for a quick calculation. If an average household eats 2 heads of lettuce a week that’s the equivalent of 6760 litres of water. Multiply that by a city the size of Montreal and it’s 1.7 million households and we are looking at 11,492,000,000 litres of water.
In comparison, Hydroponically grown lettuce can reduce the amount of water consumed by 60% while increasing yields tenfold. It really is a win/win. Add to this the ability to localize production near major cities and the questions start to arise as to why we’d even buy conventionally grown lettuce at all. However, we must not forget that greenhouse-grown lettuce has its own downsides: lighting and ventilation costs, higher labour costs, and fertilizer runoff can add to the overall impact of large scale hydroponic farming operations.
Now consider this: by growing in our own homes using a Nutritower we can reduce the amount of water used to produce a head of lettuce from 65 litres down to a meagre 1.6 litres. Because it uses a small closed-loop system it allows for water recycling at an extreme level. And this adds up over time! one family using one Nutritower to only grow lettuce, a relatively low consumer of water on the agricultural scale, would mean a savings of 6600 litres!
So there you have it. Growing some food hyper-locally can have a tremendous benefit to our environment by contributing to water conservation in a major way. The bottom line is that in our opinion tower to table is always going to be a more efficient, healthy, and environmentally friendly to grow food in our rapidly urbanizing world.