Critique and review of desirable and present food baskets of Iranian society using the water and food nexus approach

Document Type : Research Article


1 Department of new Energies and Environment, Faculty of New sciences and Technologies, University of Tehran

2 Department of Water Engineering, College of Aburaihan , University of Tehran

3 Department of Renewable Energies and Environment, Faculty of New Sciences and Technologies, University of Tehran

4 Department of Community Nutrition, School of Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics, Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS)

5 Department of Environmental Conservation, College of Natural Sciences, University of Massachusetts


The community food basket, as a link between the agricultural sector and water resources, can be used as an indicator to assess the environmental sustainability of the community food supply. Therefore, in this study, the water and food nexus for the two desirable food baskets of the Ministry of Health (DMH) and the present food basket (PFB) of the Iranian society was investigated. The results revealed that in terms of the impact of food baskets on the environment, the DMH food basket has blue and gray water footprints equal to 736 m3/person/year and 36.7 m3/person/year, respectively. Among food groups, the food group of meat, eggs, legumes and nuts has the largest share in water footprints. Replacing the desired food basket (DMH) with the PFB will reduce 383 MCM/year of surface and groundwater resources withdrawal and 102 MCM/year of gray water footprint production. Survey of economic desirability of food baskets, revealed providing the DMH food basket costs approximately 7700000 Tomans/person annually, which is approximately 400 thousand Tomans less than the cost of providing the PFB for each person. Considering that a significant share of the cost and footprints of the DMH food basket belongs to the meat, eggs, legumes and nuts food group, replacing the products of this group with foods that have less water footprints, lower costs and sufficient nutrients is recommended. In general, the DMH food basket is introduced as a suitable economic and environmental alternative to the present food basket.


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