If there is a silver lining to be found in the devastating California drought, it’s that many more Americans are finally thinking about where and how their food is grown. Historically low water levels have put a squeeze on the state’s farmers who produce nearly all of the nation’s broccoli, grapes, canned tomatoes and, notoriously, almonds.
Until the drought, many of us probably gave little if any thought to almonds beyond eating them. Now, almonds — and the almond milk made from them — are the targets of online drought shaming because of their huge water footprint. It takes about one gallon of water to produce a single almond. Almonds aren’t the only water hog, though. Consider the beloved avocado: each one takes approximately 60 gallons of water to produce. And a burger? It takes an estimated 660 gallons of water to produce a quarter-pounder. Through the food we put on our plates, California’s drought is also America’s drought.