Omnivore - Lies Dasani told me

What industry manages to take a free and natural liquid and sell it for as much as four times what we pay for gas? A hidden, and often unnoticed culprit in the eye of the consumer, the bottled water industry.

A new movement of change is trickling through the restaurant world against our bottle habits, as restaurants in San Francisco, New York and Boston have been ousting bottled water from the menu. Why all the fuss about bottles?

Under a guise of purity, bottled water companies sell a product on which Americans spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. A product which, in my opinion, is both a huge waste of money, and harmful to the environment in its production.

According to a report by the Food and Water Watch, bottled water is not as clean and pure as marketing would have us believe. The report finds that drinking tap water is better for your health, pocketbook, and the environment. Close to 40 percent of the bottled kind is actually tap water, and in most cases, far more stringent testing is required of municipal water than of bottled. Dollars spent on "purified" water are often dollars wasted.

But a marketing scam is not the end of it. According to the report, the bottled water industry is an eager contributor to global warming. Plastic bottle production in the U.S. alone requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil, enough to fuel 100,000 cars a year! Bet you never thought about that while swilling Evian.

High-end restaurants throughout the country are taking heed of this problem. Rejecting the profits made by selling bottled water, restaurants like Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., and Del Posto in New York have banned bottled water and use only filtered tap water. This trend comes at a time when newer, pricier and fancier bottles of water continue to saturate the market, attracting the clutching hands of thirsty consumers.

A trend has to come from somewhere, and a trend in restaurants reflects community feelings and moods. Hopefully this one will spread.

To learn more about the Take Back the Tap report, go to http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org.

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