Garden Eden

The Garden of Eden, provided by four rivers, was a fertile ground nourishing humans and all living creatures. Adam was meant to cultivate and maintain this place. Yet the earthly paradise was lost, according to the narrative. Nowadays we acquire the fruits of cultivation in supermarkets. A rich, endless, standardized assortment of vegetables and fruits are available throughout the year. The growing of produce requires water, referred to as virtual water. Large-scale industrial farming regions in southern countries, that often already suffer from water shortages, constitute an immense burden on the local water balance. Excessive use of fertilizer and pesticide further deplete soil and ground water resources while in an economy based on continuous growth and commodity trade, agriculture increasingly serves export production.

With approximately 70 percent, the agricultural industry is the world’s single largest consumer of fresh water. For the photo series “Garden of Eden” I trawled the fruit and vegetable departments of Berlin supermarkets, collecting the transport cartons of countries either distant from the city, or suffering from heightened water stress factors.

The growing globalized flow of goods increases regional water consumption. Sun-drenched agricultural areas, such as Spain, require intensive irrigation. But the additional cultivation of export goods puts a tremendous strain on the local water table, as water used to manufacture these goods only partially returns into the regional water cycle. Accordingly, more water is taken from dry-climate regions than can flow back naturally.