Jane Withers on the Wonderwater Café – raising awareness of the water footprint of food
How much water do you eat? This is the question we’ll be asking visitors to the Wonderwater Café at Leila’s Shop during this month’s London Design Festival. It’s important to get people thinking about the critical relationship between water and food, particularly in the context of explosive population growth, climate change and water scarcity, all of which pose serious challenges to our future food security. We welcome all restaurateurs and caterers to come and join the debate.
Wonderwater focuses on using the medium of design as a means to communicate powerful stories to diverse audiences worldwide. The Wonderwater Café has already received critical acclaim in both Beijing and Helsinki, and we’re excited to be bringing the concept to London. Leila’s Shop is a great choice of venue, as it already has a strong reputation for responsibly sourced food.
Using creative, thought-provoking design exhibitions and pop-up cafés, we aim to stimulate conversations on the water footprint of food, prompting people to consider how much of the world’s scarce fresh water (which represents just 3% of Earth’s water) is needed to produce the food we consume. The project is supported by World Design Capital Helsinki, King’s College London and the Arts Council England.
The Wonderwater Café menu details the water footprint of every dish and drink on offer, highlighting whether its water footprint is low, medium or high. The menu also shows how much water is used to produce the different foods and where it comes from in the world.
Visitors will be also able to explore dramatic facts and figures conveyed via striking posters, infographics and raindrop-shaped blackboards throughout the shop. For instance, did you know that the average UK consumer’s daily water consumption is a staggering 4,645 litres?
More than 60% of the UK’s water is derived from overseas, according to the Water Footprint Network. Food is one of the top contributors to UK consumers’ daily water consumption, along with paper and cotton clothing, and represents a far greater proportion than domestic water, which accounts for just 3% (150 litres).
Armed with the right information, we believe consumers can begin to understand the global flows of water in food production, and opt for dishes with a low water footprint or select food stuffs produced in regions where water resources are not dangerously strained. Agriculture represents by far the largest slice of global water consumption, so the most effective way to enhance the sustainability of our water footprint is through our choices of food and drink.
We look forward to welcoming people to the Wonderwater Café and would be happy to discuss any future projects with SRA members. The café will be in London from 12th to 23rd September 2012 at Leila’s Shop, 17 Calvert Avenue, Shoreditch.