"By 2030, projections (...) suggest that a world of approximately 9 billion people will require 35 percent more water, 40 percent more energy, and 50 percent more food."
(self-initiated, timeline: after-work hours)
Problem
Our planet's resources are finite and the race to supply everyone with food and fresh water may become more difficult as time goes on. (above, left: (In)Finite // UNESCO by Anna Kubelík)
Projections (above) constructed by the UCAR, predict a future ever-growing challenge: droughts, including in the US. 
In addition to droughts, food deserts plague the US. (above: blue areas representing food deserts are overlaid on top of population) In the US, about 23.5 million live in a food desert.

80% of fresh water consumed in the US goes directly towards agricultural activity. Can this be reduced?‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč
Problem Analysis

What are some of the most water intensive crops?
Alfalfa
‚Ė™¬†requires flooding irrigation
‚Ė™ can be harvested between 3 to 6 times a year
‚Ė™ used for¬†grazing, hay, and silage,¬†green manure and cover crop

Almonds
‚Ė™ 1900 gal.¬†of water/lb product
‚Ė™ yearly harvests
‚Ė™ consumed fresh, roasted, or processed into almond milk
Rice
‚Ė™ 449 gal. of water/lb product
‚Ė™ yearly harvests
‚Ė™ consumed steamed,¬†used to produce alcohol
The two most popular crops in the US are fairly water intensive as well.
Soybeans
‚Ė™ 216 gal. of water/lb of product
‚Ė™ yearly harvests
‚Ė™ animal feed, soybean oil for food/fuel

Corn
‚Ė™ 127 gal. of water/lb of product
‚Ė™ yearly harvests
‚Ė™ most heavily used as animal feed and for production of¬†ethanol
Finally, what are some of the crops most commonly consumed fresh in the US? 
Potatoes
‚Ė™ 34 gal. of water/lb of product
‚Ė™ yearly harvests
‚Ė™ most commonly consumed fresh

Tomatoes
‚Ė™ 26 gal. of water/lb of product
‚Ė™ may lead to more than one harvest/year
‚Ė™ consumed fresh or canned

Solution Analysis
Mushrooms consume as little as 1.8 gallons of water per pound of product (white button mushrooms), making them one of the least water intensive grown products on the market. In many ways, they are the solution.
above: variety of crops and their water usage (all values are shown as gallons of water needed to produce one pound of specified product, redrawn from The green, blue and grey water footprint of crops and derived crop products study, as well as The Mushroom Sustainability Story: Water, Energy, and Climate Environmental Metrics, and this interactive tool developed by Arjen Hoekstra & Water Footprint Network)
All Nutritional Target Map values below are from Nutrition Data.
1 - Enoki (FF: 3.7 ; ND: 4.2)
about 1 month to grow and be picked
2 - Oyster (FF: 3.8 ; ND: 4.1)
as little as 2 weeks to be picked - one of the fastest growing species
3 - Shitake (FF: 3.3 ; ND: 2.3)
mushrooms will start to appear 6 to 12 months after inoculation
4 - Chanterelle (source of polysaccharides)
can give a couple harvests per year
5 - Lion's Mane (used in medicine)
a few weeks to grow and be picked
6 - Portobello (FF: 4.3 ; ND: 4.2)
about a month to grow and be picked
7 - King Trumpet (Vit. D, B3, B2, potassium and iron)
less than 1 month to grow and be picked
8 - White Button (FF: 4.5 ; ND: 4.5)
couple weeks to grow and be picked
9 - Maitake (FF: 4.1 ; ND: 3.3)
3 to 4 months to grow and be picked
Converting the US population to a mushroom diet is not the goal. But how can we make this sustainable food more popular?
Research + Analysis
right: U.S. fresh mushroom consumption (mainly White Button)
Mushroom consumption in the US is on the rise, but the product remains still fairly unpopular. How can we influence this trend?
Interviews + Survey
I went through Quora, articles like this one, interviews and surveys to understand what strategy may be best to persuade more people into eating mushrooms more often. What did I learn?
< 10% haven't ordered a mushroom dish in the last year while eating out.
< 30% didn't know any or very few recipes, 40% knew one or two, 30% knew many.
Most recognized species were White Button and Portobello mushrooms, with Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms being the closest to follow.
~ 90% have never gone mushroom foraging. Nearly 10% have tried growing mushrooms in their home.
~ 50% said they consider themselves complete mushroom novices. Only 3% said they consider themselves very knowledgeable.
Nearly 1/3 consider themselves as very adventurous when it comes to trying new foods.
~ 45% said they would be very interested in having more mushrooms in their diet.
Overall, one theme kept coming back: there is not enough knowledge about mushrooms and how to prepare them to make a tasty dish.

Design
What is one way to spark interest and curiosity, with little to no extra cost? Suggest a recipe.
To minimize the consumer's effort leading to a purchase+consumption, target area should be the mushroom section itself. QR codes pointing to recipes and their ingredients as well as their location in the store, could trigger shoppers to try cooking a new dish at home.
Graphics need to be simple and straightforward, inviting and non-aggressive. A question triggers curiosity, while personifying the product fosters a relationship.
Moreover, the mushrooms aren't just consumed at the store, the experience continues at home while cooking.
Low Fidelity Wireframe
 Downloading an app is too time consuming. The product should be a mobile-centered website. Finally, novel or seasonal recipes may be another strategy how to keep consumers entertained over time.
Final Design
Conclusion + Lessons learned
As we see more examples of desalination plants and farms using the technology, it's still important to be conscious of our water consumption.
This case study is limited to a certain amount (around 30) of interviewees. Gathering more data could ameliorate this solution or even alter my perception of it.
Ultimately, it was fascinating how through design thinking, the problem became that of marketing mushrooms, in order to attempt decreasing water consumption in the US, while producing more food for its population.
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