03.21.12Martha Golea

Uninvited Parenting Advice: Eat Your Beans!

world water dayWorld Water Day 2012 is Thursday, March 22

If you’ve ever told your children “You’d better finish that; there are starving kids in China/Africa!” then you’ve probably also received the classic, petulant response, “So? It’s not like we’re going to mail them my leftovers.”

If this dinnertime debate leaves you speechless and (internally) cursing the unfailing logic of your children, don’t worry- the UN has your back.

March 22 is International World Water Day, an annual celebration instituted by the United Nations General Assembly as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Each year the organization highlights a different aspect of freshwater; 2012 is focused on water and food security.

Because it’s not just kids in Africa or China that are starving. It’s 1 billion people worldwide. Even if they’re not in your neighborhood, they’re in your city. You may not be able to mail them your leftover casserole and cold peas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference.

90% of the world’s total water consumption goes to produce food but 30% of the food produced globally is never eaten and the water used to produce it is lost! Wasting food means wasting water and wasting water means farmers have less water to produce food and lots of people go hungry. So what can you and your kids do about this? The folks at UN Water have a few suggestions:

  • follow a healthier, sustainable diet
  • consume less water-intensive products
  • reduce food wastage to reduce water lost
  • take the BLUE LUNCHBOX challenge

UN Water has some excellent resources to help you teach those ornery kids the importance of not wasting food (don’t miss the videos and animations). They’ve also partnered with OneDrop to create a pretty cool game that calculates the water footprint of your meal as you drag food items onto your plate. (I used the game to plan out a balanced, low-water-demand dinner for tonight. Win-win!)

Small changes can definitely add up, but maybe one big change is the way to go, for you? Personally, I’m working on becoming a better cook so my family isn’t constantly throwing away leftovers or eating out.

What changes are you willing to make to reduce your water footprint and create a more secure future? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @MarGoH2O


Martha Golea

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Martha Golea

A seasoned communicator passionate water conservationist, Martha Golea tracks projects in progress and reports on usage of new and exploratory irrigation technology and water management strategies. In addition to contributing to customer newsletters and creating case studies of our work, Martha also creates tools that help educate customers and the community on landscape maintenance best practices.


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  1. Thursday, 7:27 Richard Restuccia

    Happy World Water Day! I was one of those kids who happily told my parents “Send this food to someone who’s starving.” I was surprised when they didn’t agree I would someday be a great comedian. Today, things have changed and I am the one surprised we are wasting so much food. I love to get a good deal as much as the next person, but we are enticed to buy larger quantities of food only to throw a large percentage of it away. The good news is there are several companies working right now on help growers time how the food moves from the farm to the stores. More careful management will create less waste and save more water. Great post Martha!

  2. Thursday, 9:47 Caroline Weilert

    Another great post Martha.

  3. Monday, 12:08 Martha Golea

    Thanks for the comments, Richard and Caroline. I was thrilled to see the message of World Water Day flying all over LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook last week. I really hope that it got a lot of peoples’ attention.

  4. Thursday, 3:01 Kelly Duke

    You are truly the Erma Bombeck of water management blogs. Or perhaps Erma Bombeck was the Martha Golea of humorous advice columnists in her day.

    Forgetting that we are fellow-bloggers on the same site, I love your witty/hip yet homespun take on water issues.

    After several loosing hands in the Blue Lunchbox game I think that for dinner tonight i will fix some grits. Not hominy, but small bits of gravel. It uses far less water and could be an aid to digestion.

    K. F. Duke

  5. Thursday, 3:12 Martha Golea

    Kelly, that’s awfully high praise, thank you! Your “grits” definitely sound environmentally friendly, but maybe not so tummy or dental friendly. If you do decide to eat some gravel, don’t go swimming for a few days because you will definitely not float.

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