10 Foods That Use More Water Than You Do

Last Update: June 2, 2023

Water conservation has been in the national spotlight for decades now—at this point, even preschool kids know to turn off the faucet when they’re brushing their teeth.

But California’s current drought has focused attention on the issue. And it turns out that long showers and laundry aren’t the only problem. If you really want to save water, you should probably start with your dinner plate.

The Los Angeles Times released an infographic Tuesday detailing how much water it takes to produce a wide range of common ingredients. And the results were eye-opening.

The average person uses about 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. Every minute of a shower uses at least two gallons. A load of laundry uses at least 25 gallons. Flushing your toilet? That’s three gallons right there.

But a 10-ounce steak takes 1,062 gallons of water to produce. Yep, you read that right—more than a thousand gallons to feed, slaughter, and process that piece of meat.

Lamb was next on the list—not surprisingly, meats and protein products had some of the highest levels of water consumption, while fruits and vegetables tended to use less water per serving. But who knew peas were such a drain on the water supply?

Without further ado, here are the 10 foods that suck up the most water, according to the Los Angeles Times and the Water Footprint Network.

1. Beef: 106.28 gallons of water per ounce of food
2. Lamb: 84.68 gallons per ounce
3. Chickpeas: 76.07 gallons per ounce
4. Lentils: 71.28 gallons per ounce
5. Peas: 44.53 gallons per ounce
6. Goat: 41.35 gallons per ounce
7. Pork: 41.25 gallons per ounce
8. Mangoes: 28.50 gallons per ounce
9. Soyburger: 21.84 gallons per ounce
10. Soymilk: 20.53 gallons per ounce

Want to do your part for water conservation? Up your consumption of these 10 foods that consume the smallest amount of water.

1. Lettuce: 0.85 gallons per ounce
2. Carrots: 0.93 gallons per ounce
3. Tomatoes: 0.95 gallons per ounce
4. Onions: 1.19 gallons per ounce
5. Strawberries: 1.24 gallons per ounce
6. Spinach: 1.39 gallons per ounce
7. Pineapple: 1.40 gallons per ounce
8. Eggplant: 1.69 gallons per ounce
9. Watermelon: 1.79 gallons per ounce
10. Squash: 1.92 gallons per ounce

At Thrive Market, you can find all of the healthy, wholesome products you love at wholesale prices—delivered directly to your door, anywhere in the continental United States.

Photo credit: AgriLife Today via Flickr

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Annalise Mantz

Annalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.

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