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Original Essays | February 6, 2014 0 comments
One afternoon in the mid-1990s, I found myself in Dauphine Street Books in New Orleans, staring hungrily into a vitrine containing costly literary... Continue »
Water Crisis Ships Inby Jay Weinstein
We all know how much strength we need to carry water, which weighs eight pounds per gallon, from one place to another. We can imagine the expense involved in processing, packing and shipping millions of bottles of freight for a 4298-mile journey from Italy. The amount of materials and fuel is staggering. A gift of Italian water in a New York restaurant represents a great sacrifice by someone, so it's natural to feel grateful. But we pay a hidden price.
Preserve Our Right to Free Water
We're a country blessed with abundant supplies of delicious, potable fresh water. Yet we're heading down a dangerous path forged by European countries that have made the very idea of drinking tap water socially unacceptable. In my new book, The Ethical Gourmet, I discuss the growing trend toward substituting shipped bottled water for tap in places where it's not justified.
Take a trip, as I recently did, to Spain. You'll be asked at every meal which bottle of water you'd like to accompany your repast. Tap water isn't offered. Water fountains are rarities even in parks, museums and theaters. It's as if the country has given up on piped drinking water. Will the same be true of the United States in coming years?
Bottled Water Has Its Place
Although even the finest chefs would consider it absurd to cook in bottled water, except for a very few special recipes, private chefs are now asked by some clients to cook only with bottled water. They're not just talking about soups and stocks, but actually boiling vegetables and cooking pasta in bottled water. In a mistaken belief that there is something healthier or more delicious in plastic and glass bottles than the water from our country's aquifers, artesian wells, springs, mountain streams or other sound sources, these consumers are demanding water shipped in from Europe, Fiji, and the arctic for everyday use. Beyond savoring the occasional imported water as a flavorful beverage, gratuitous adoption of bottled water can become a burden on the environment and indirectly on our democracy.
Make Your Water the Best It Can Be
One replaceable charcoal filter purifies a four-month supply (40 gallons) of drinking water. A faucet filtration system can do the same, with great convenience. More all-encompassing water filtration systems can filter all drinking water in the home from a central location. For a comparison of widely available water filters, check out www.waterfiltercomparisons.net.
Tap Water Is Healthy
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all water suppliers to send their customers an annual water quality report. Over 90 percent of water systems meet the EPA's high standards for water quality. We have the best water on the planet. For those unsure of their water's purity, testing is available in every state. The EPA website, www.epa.gov, has easy-to-understand information about water quality, and lots of resources for finding out about your water.
The Food and Drug Administration sets bottled water standards based on the EPA's tap water standards. According to the EPA, some bottled water is treated more than tap water, while some is treated less, or not treated at all.
Make Tap Water Special
With richer dishes, water with a squeeze of lemon juice cleanses the palate, preparing it for each nuance of flavor. With spicy dishes, a few drops of lime juice can make water an even more cooling complement. Water can be the main beverage at any meal, and can stand on its own, without a bottle or label, if it's served with respect and panache.
What Next? Free Breathable Air?