Publication Date

Fall 2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging

Advisor

John Gieng

Subject Areas

Nutrition

Abstract

As the world’s population continues to increase, a focus on nutrition security and water sustainability is needed to ensure enough resources for future generations and their wellbeing. The agricultural sector uses the most water worldwide, so identifying agricultural commodities that use less water and are more nutritious could help society reach these goals. California is the largest producer of agriculture in the United States. Therefore, an analysis of water use and nutritional value was conducted using water footprint (WF) and nutrient rich food scores (NRF) of California’s agricultural products. The results of the WF and NRF analysis showed that the category of low water use and high nutritional value was made up of fruits and vegetables, including leafy green vegetables and all melons. On the other hand, most animal products, most field crops, and all nuts belonged in the high water use and low nutritional value category. In addition, this study gauged the importance and interest of agricultural water use to California consumers when making food choices through a multipart survey. The survey showed that among environmental factors, agricultural water use in food choice was one of the least important factors. However, when asked what water issues they would like to learn more about, consumers ranked agricultural water use for food production 3rd out of 16 options, showing an interest to learn more. This study provides a preliminary look at the consumer’s thoughts on the issue of agricultural water use and a clear understanding of which agricultural products could be integrated in the consumer’s diet with consideration to its impact on water sustainability and nutrition security.

Available for download on Friday, February 24, 2023

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