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"Agriculture consumes almost 80 percent of the world's fresh water, so sustainable water stewardship is critically important, yet most people couldn't even name their local watershed. Water, like sewage treatment and electricity, has become mostly invisible. We don't know where it comes from. That's a problem, because if we don't know where our water comes from, we probably won't know to miss it when it's gone. And the fact is, our freshwater supples aren't infinite." - Douglas Gayeton

We plunge into watersheds across the country, from the Long Island Sound to Hawaii, on this week’s Food List to learn what we can do to ensure a resilient and protected water source for our community, our ecosystems, and our planet.

Do you feel connected to your watershed? Douglas Gayeton shares his personal story and inspiration for conscious consumption. Brock Dolman from OAEC presents watersheds as the Basins of Relations, the common element that all societies share, and inspires us to act and protect our water sources. And Kai Olson-Sawyer from GRACE provides resilient approaches to water stewardship!

Continuing to lead us in a proactive direction, SPUR shares with us eco-conscious infrastructures that conserve water in urban areas. WeTap reminds us that in city parks, schools and homes across the country, we have access to fresh water, a resource worth celebrating every day.

What does responsible water stewardship look like? It begins with Water Smarts, protecting the water source and conscious consumption. In the short film Water we learn the important roles agriculturists play as water stewards. The Environmental Working Group takes it a step further and encourages everyone, not just farmers, to implement riparian buffer zones, the easily constructed, low-hanging fruit of land and water preservation. Civil Eats shares with us the devastation of Toledo’s neglected watershed to remind us all to be water smart.

We wrap up this edition of the Food List with a story from an “ahupua’a” in Hawaii and the wealth that watersheds bring each and every one of us. Take a moment and consider how important your watershed is and ways you can act, advocate, and inspire as a water steward.

This week's terms


A watershed is a land area, such as a river valley, where all water that falls as rain or collects as dew or cloud mist and drains into a common waterway.

Water Stewardship

Water stewardship is the use of water in a way that maximizes water use efficiency, while emphasizing sustainable on-farm water management practices from an ecological, social, and economic perspective. Good water stewards understand their own water use and the role it plays in local agriculture, watershed, and community dynamics.

Riparian Buffer

 A riparian buffer zone is a "ribbon of life,”an area of trees and shrubs adjacent to a natural waterway, including streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands. Riparian buffers are a type of conservation practice that farmers can employ under conservation contracts with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The purpose of a riparian buffer zone is to capture sediment, nutrients, pesticides, and other contaminants and reduce their entry into waterways. In addition, riparian buffers are a type of wildlife corridor, creating habitat for wildlife activity and movement.

Dead Zone

A marine region with such low oxygen concentrations, known as hypoxia, that result from biological, physical, and chemical factors and cause massive death or relocation of flora and fauna in the area.

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