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5,000 gallons of water needed to produce a pound of beef?

Meat isn't that good. Or is it that good?
 
 
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Life for the informed meat eater is getting harder and harder isn't it? It is for me anyway.

Aside from a growing sensibility about how strange it is to stuff pieces of dead creatures in my mouth, the environmental costs of producing one mouthful of my 2nd favorite meat -- cow -- is quite staggering (pork is, and will be until my last days as a carnivore, the Best Meat Ever).

I was reading a three-part article in the British Independent last night about the world's coming water wars, slightly bored -- it's a poorly written series -- and there was this tiny little list of "The litres of water needed to produce a kilo of" this and that food item.

Here's the list:

Potatoes 1,000
Maize 1,400
Wheat 1,450
Chicken 4,600
Beef 42,500

Whoa! Eye-balling that beef number, it comes to around 5,000 gallons per pound of USDA. No doubt, we Americans are vastly more efficient than those cow-mad -- or is it mad-cow -- British farmers. But still, what's the number of gallons-per-cow pound number that you feel OK with? 1,000?

Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.