Makeover Monday week 30, 2017: How thirsty is our food?

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If you have followed this blog for a while, you probably know by now that living a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t harm other creatures is pretty high on my list of priorities in life.

What’s at the end of our forks and what we therefore eat three meals a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year for the course of our life, has a much more significant impact on our environment than the car we drive or how soon we switch off the light when not using a room.

One aspect of the impact of our dietary choices is the water required to produce our food. We all know that plants need water to grow. And we eat plants in the form of fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, etc.

But most people on this planet also eat meat and animal products, which from a pure efficiency standpoint are a poor way of meeting our caloric needs. Why? Because first we use resources to grow crops and then we end up feeding those crops (wheat, corn, soy, etc.) to animals only to end up as a measly little steak on our plate. What a waste of energy.

For this week’s Makeover Monday I wanted to highlight this issue from the perspective of water consumption. Looking at the water footprint of our food tells us how much water is required to produce the things we eat.

The original visualization was published on Statista and looks like this:


What I like about it

  • Interesting and engaging title and good subtitle that explains what I’m looking at
  • The icons make it eye catching with the water drops being relevant
  • Sorting by water required (descending order) is sensible, rather than categorising further or sorting alphabetically
  • Sources are included
  • Labels give me more precise information which would be hard to see just from the icons


What I don’t like about it

  • The icons trivialize the matter in my opinion
  • The scales are unnecessary for the story. This space could have been used for additional text, explanations, etc.
  • Where are the starchy root vegetables???


What I did

  • My initial grand plans weren’t quite doable given my limited design skills, so I opted for a story that would develop as you move down the page
  • Mobile design
  • Focus on two food items: Starchy roots (potatoes!!!) and Bovine meat (dead cows and calves)
  • Incorporating the story of Chris Voigt, who ate nothing but potatoes for 60 days straight, to contrast the differences between what you can consume on a plant-based diet and what you surely wouldn’t attempt to do with meat (at least I hope you wouldn’t consider consuming nothing but 1.5kg of beef per day for 60 days in a row…)
  • Just numbers, bars and text



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