Wonderwater Tian Hai - How much water do you eat?
Wonderwater at Tian Hai is a pop-up event taking place in a traditional Chinese restaurant Tian Hai (‘heaven and sea’), where visitors are invited to explore the impact of what we eat on local and global water consumption. wonderwater at Tian Hai is Aalto University´s prelude to wonderwater at the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012. The project is curated by Jane Withers and Kari Korkman. The event takes place during Beijing Design Week (24 September–2 October 2011).
The water footprint is a relatively new but increasingly important tool for understanding our water consumption and using water responsibly and sustainably. A massive 92 per cent of global water use goes on food. We use large amounts of what UNESCO calls ‘actual water’ for washing, drinking and cooking, but considerably more ‘virtual water’ for producing food, paper, and almost every other product we consume. The total water footprint consists of the sum of these two parts .
During wonderwater at Tian Hai, the restaurant’s menu will include the water footprint of popular dishes. The dishes chosen will represent the range of water footprints: beef (high), pork (high-medium), chicken (medium), seafood (low if it’s not farmed) and vegetables (low), as well as such staples as rice, beer and tea. Will diners choose a beef dish with an astronomically high water footprint, or a vegetable dish produced from local seasonal product with a much lower footprint?
‘We wanted the first wonderwater project to focus on the water footprint because it is a complex issue where we believe design can play an important role in helping to inspire us to make sustainable choices. What we choose to eat can really make a difference’, says curator Jane Withers. According to UNESCO, in just 20 years, demand for water will be 40 per cent higher than it is today, and more than 50 per cent higher in the most rapidly developing countries.
Armed with the right information, we can begin to understand the global flows of water in food production and select the rice, meat, vegetable or tea that has a relatively low water footprint, or that has its footprint in a region that doesn’t suffer from high water scarcity. With a growing global population and international concern over food security, prices may soon reflect how much water is used in bringing food to our plates.
For more information, go to wonderwater.fi, wdchelsinki2012.fi, bjdw.org, janewithers.com/blog and Water and Development Research Group of Aalto University.
Iina-Karoliina Välilä, info [at] wonderwater [dot] fi
Johanna Juselius, Aalto University, johanna.juselius [at] aalto [dot] fi
Matti Kummu, Aalto University, Water and Development Research Group
wonderwater.fi, wdchelsinki2012.fi, bjdw.org ja janewithers.com/blog
Supported by Design Forum Finland and Embassy of Finland in Beijing.