The groundwater diet: trade-offs and benefits

Effects of dietary choices on groundwater pollution are often not considered in the context of sustainable and healthy diets. We used a large dataset of the National Minerals Policy Program of the Netherlands to gain more insight into shifts in dietary patterns in the context of groundwater pollution. We quantified a nitrate footprint per crop type based on groundwater monitoring results.

This was linked to the nutritional contents and daily recommended intake levels of those crops. Next, a health-environment indicator was derived for optimization of healthy and sustainable diets. We found large differences between crops. Highest indicator values were found for celeriac and lowest for pea and asparagus. Based on the results we conclude that the dietary shift towards more plant based products could potentially lead to increased groundwater pollution.