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100% Italian meat: good and virtuous

Sustainable meat and water: an indissoluble bond

The existence of living beings, in all their forms and substances, is directly connected to the presence of water. In fact, it was in water that the first life forms appeared billions of years ago, and the rule is still strongly respected today: without water the continuation of any species is almost impossible.

However, the resource is identified as renewable and, at the same time, limited and extremely vulnerable.

We need to take care of it, even more so if we look at the numbers consumed by humans: agriculture captures around 70% of the resource, followed by industry with 23% and domestic use closes the ranking with around 7%.

Water and carbon foot print

The ecological and carbon footprint move hand in hand towards the need to keep the use of natural resources under control. Extreme attention towards water is essential to guarantee forms of life and growth, which is why on ecological issues we often hear discussion about the water footprint.

Studies that revolve around the water footprint often indicate volumes of virtual water and indicate the quantity of water used throughout the production process: from the creation of the product to its consumption and serving.

The main objective of the water foot print is precisely to eliminate - or reduce to a minimum - waste, so as to increase sustainability and maintain respect for the environment as a whole.

Water footprint procedure

The water footprint determines three types of water: green, blue and grey. The distinction is useful for defining its nature during use, as well as determining the variation during processing related to the function.

Green water

Indispensable for agriculture, green water corresponds to rainwater, what nature makes available and becomes indispensable. This is why it is collected in tanks, stored and used when necessary, it needs to be taken care of.

Blue water

The water that comes from the aqueduct and reservoirs is identified by the color blue. It is used for some processes and for watering, it can return to the basin from which it was introduced at different times and following certain purification processes. The route is quite expensive and requires human intervention through specific infrastructures and processes.

Grey water

The third type is identified with gray water and refers to water used to restore blue water and to restore certain ecological values. In other words, this type contains water contaminated by various chemical and waste products and is therefore unusable in the food and agricultural production chain.

Question of impact

Several studies state that the Bel Paese is positioned at the top of the ranking for attention to the environment in the production of organic meat. However, it is necessary to delve deeper into the topic while maintaining high attention towards the water footprint which represents a large part of the issue.

First of all, it is necessary to underline that different agricultural crops require different expenditure of energy and raw materials, this is a fact, impossible to dispute. Similarly, the food supply chain also requires different processes and different quantities of water. What is good to keep in mind is the quantity, or rather the virtual volume of green water that is used.

The environmental impact is today an element under continuous study, and especially in the food supply chain it becomes essential when it is related to a raw material that is as precious as it is exhaustible.

Question of relationships

To produce a medium-sized beef steak - 200 g - 3000 L of water are needed and the breakdown into types is: 94% green water, 4% blue water and 3% gray water. The fact that could mean everything and nothing allows for further in-depth analysis: it is the relationship between the various typologies that attracts even more interest.

While gray water holds some importance, especially for recovery and quality restoration, it is the ratio of green water to blue water that needs to be taken into consideration more carefully. It is obvious that a lot depends on the cultivation area being analysed, however it is the capacity of the place to conserve green water and restore blue water that plays an essential role, even more so if we consider the resource's exhaustible alarm natural.

So, what can be done?

Italy is at the top of the ranking for "best conservative" because it has chosen to invest first in studies and then in practice in the issue and try to solve the problem which is becoming increasingly important.


One of the methods used is agriculture 4.0 which introduces techniques that include renewable energy and particular and... innovative cultivation methods. In short, the answer seems to lie in technological innovation, taking inspiration - once again - from traditional methods such as conservation.