Business & Policy Food Issues Should Individual Food Items Get Water Footprint Labels or Are We Already Overloaded With Information? By Mat McDermott Writer Yogamaya: Registered yoga teacher New York University: MS, Global Affairs Burlington College: BA, writing and literature. Mat McDermott is a writer, photographer, film-maker, nature lover, and accomplished yogi our editorial process Twitter Twitter Mat McDermott Updated October 11, 2018 Migrated Image Share Twitter Pinterest Email Business & Policy Corporate Responsibility Environmental Policy Economics Food Issues The water footprint of food is likely to become a growing problem as climate change plays havoc with world water supplies. Also, more strain will come as more of the world try to eat up the social ladder—by consuming more meat. The Guardian reports that in an effort to make people more aware of the water intensity of their food, two UK-based groups have proposed that food carry water footprint labels. Proposal Would Have General Water Footprint LabelThe Food Ethics Council and Sustain issued the briefing "Water labels on food: Issues and recommendations" earlier this week. It proposes not that food be labeled directly as to how many liters of water were need to grow a kilogram of the foodstuff, but rather be label representing good water stewardship more broadly. It could also be incorporated into a label containing information on whether the product was part of a fair trade regime or some sort of carbon labeling. In theory, I like the idea, but in practice, I'm not so sure it would make much of a difference. Greater Education Needed, But Is Labeling the Right Way?Certainly greater education is needed on the issue of water intensity of food -- it's something TreeHugger has brought up on numerous occasions -- and the fact that a vegetarian or largely vegetarian diet has a much lower water footprint than does the typical meat-heavy diet. And a vegan diet has a lower water footprint still. But do people really pay attention to labels on food or is it all just information overload? Perhaps there's a way to design a better label that incorporates nutritional information, carbon content, whether it's certified organic or not, water content, without it all be a jumble. What About Farmer's Markets?And then if we move towards a system wherein more people buy their food at farmers markets, where the items are largely unpackaged (a good thing that) how would this labeling be implemented without it being a burden on already stressed small or mid-sized farmers? I want to know what readers think on this one: What would you like to see in water footprint labeling? Yes/no. What form should it take? Similar Proposal in AustraliaNOTE: A similar proposal to this one was put forth in Australia, back in April -- so it's certainly an issue we're going to see getting more scrutiny -- and the issue seemed to be met with a big 'meh' by commenters. Surely TreeHugger readers are a passionate enough bunch to care about how much water their food requires.