No Sunday Roast this week – all you’re getting is water. #weeklyfoodnews

I am sat in an independent Oxford cafe wanting to thump my head on their ethically sourced, fashionably tea-stained wooden tables. Sunday Roast was just about to go on the proverbial table, then my Google Blogger deleted it. SO, I have gone down a different route. In light of World Water Day 2015, here is your ‘watered down’ version of Sunday Roast.

Recipe

 
Rather than watching three back-to-back an episode of House of Cards once I got back from work yesterday, I made time to relish in the company of good friends and cook an easy, healthy and filling Sunday night meal.

Taking only 15 minutes to prep (if the rice is pre-cooked), it’s quick and simple. It’s also incredibly colourful; good for abolishing any stressful moods but also a clear indication of diverse nutrients and vitamins on your plate.

[Serves 4]
For the dressing, you need:
  • Juice from one orange
  • 1.5 tbsp red or white wine vinegar (we actually used Balsamic and that was fine)
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix all these ingredients together in a bowl, set aside and get started on the salad:
  • 128g black rice (pre-cooked, take it off the heat just as it loses its crunch)
  • 1 mango (diced)
  • 1 avocado (diced)
  • 1 orange (segmented)
  • 1 red onion (finely chopped)
  • handful of roasted pumpkin seeds*
Mix ingredients in a large bowl (pumpkin seeds can be sprinkled on top as a garnish instead), add dressing to taste. Serve and enjoy.
If there is any leftover, add some black beans to the mix and eat it in fajita wraps the next day. Or, we added some prawns to the salad – it would also work well with white meat, strips of beef or seafood (e.g. white crab, lobster).
*To make your own roasted pumpkin seeds just scoop any leftover seeds out of your pumpkin, remove any pith, scatter on a baking tray and drizzle olive oil (or melted butter and salt) over them. Roast in the oven at 200 degrees C for 30 or so minutes, or until golden brown. 

Journal

Water For A Sustainable World, by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Division

You’ll notice that there is no blog this week. Why? As this week’s ‘Journal’ entry is essentially long enough to be a blog post in itself…

You often hear the remark that water is the source of life. It is not only the source of life, but underpins pillars of sustainable development including poverty, rights, food, governance and ecosystems. From the everyday production and consumption of foods and products to the longer term resilience of our communities and environments to climate and land use change, our reliance on safe, clean and accessible water sources is at the core.

Water is a basic human right.
Source: dutchwatersector.com

Despite this:

  • We have already overexploited 20% of our groundwater reserves worldwide
  • 1 in 10 people still live without access to safe, clean and running water. The majority of these individuals live in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa – comprising nearly 700 million.
  • 2.5 billion people still live without sufficient sanitation
  • 1 billion still practice open defecation due to lack of functional sewerage systems. To really hit home: more people have access to a mobile phone than those with access to a toilet. 

Our insatiable thirst will simply catalyse any vulnerability already seen: If we continue ‘business as usual’, we risk reducing safe, clean water to 40% in the next 15 years.

That is a lot to swallow, and the UNESCO report does justice to the enormity of our water resource challenge.

In the final chapters, the report proposes a need for a post-2015 ‘goal for water’, including universal access to safe water and hygiene services, sustainable use of water, improved infrastructure and reduced risk of water-related disease and disasters. To achieve this, they urge a reorientation of policy frameworks, equitable growth, minimisation of risk through better service provision.

All this sounds great as a rhetoric, but what I really want to focus on is how we can get involved as individuals. This moves me on to my final two instalments: News and Inspiration…

News

Villagers carrying water containers, Gujarat, India
Source: Amit Dave/Reuters in ibitimes.co.uk
There is a reason why I want, or perhaps need, to supply both the above UNESCO report and photos. As Susan Sontag states:

“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” 

These, often harrowing, photos immerse us in the everyday actions and emotions of people suffering from lack of access to fresh, clean water. They help us to feel something, which could compel us to act.

We all need to reflect on how we play a role in this inequitable geography of water resource access around the world. Water is part of our food choices, land uses, industries, retail products… whether direct or indirect, it is not simply through a photo that we participate in an individual, communities or environments vulnerability and instability. 

I want you all to look at the photos, then continue reading this blog. The Inspiration section will provide one food-related way in which you can start to reshape and reinvent the water wheel.

A man washing in polluted rivers, New Delhi
Source: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters in ibitimes.co.uk

Inspiration

“What if I told you…you eat 3496 gallons of water…”

I found this website a few years ago and continue to be in awe of the graphics and content. It truly makes you realise just how much hidden water there is in our everyday consumption patterns; a form of water aptly named ‘virtual water‘.

This includes domestic consumption, our clothing choices, food choices… In fact, 92% of the ‘hidden’ water we consume is in our food. 

Water used to produce our staple foods.
Source: bungartbessler.com, adapted from Angela Morelli Water

As Angela states: “an understanding of our water consumption can help us provide a solution to one of our most pressing problems”. We are literally addicted to water and we don’t even realise it.

Reflecting back on my recipe for this week, I calculated how much water we consumed using information from the fantastic website Water Footprint. Here’s what I found…

  • 180 litres for one mango
  • 80 litres for one orange
  • 300 litres for black rice
  • 110 litres for an avocado
That’s excluding the seafood, onion, oil, coriander and pumpkin seeds, and it comes to a whopping 670 litres of water for three of us to eat one meal.
I urge you to calculate your own footprint – even if it is just for one meal, it is a stark indication of how much we depend on water resources and how water resource sustainability depends on you just as much as it does on higher level policy progress.

Until next week… x

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