As long as a quarter-century ago, a friend of mine predicted that in the not-too-distant future, water would be treated with the same reverence as wine, that it would come in fancy bottles with fancy labels giving the year and be laid up in climate-controlled cellars. Well – time has proven him right.
There’s Water in Them Thar Hills!
Designer water companies go literally to the ends of the earth to find water that is free of contamination, harvesting it from places like the gletschers of Greenland, Iceland and Canada, which must be relatively easy since they’re melting anyway, as well as from the tundra’s of Northern Finland, the Swiss mountains, and even from half a mile below the surface of the Pacific, where any impurities are supposedly removed by the cold.
Obviously, such water does not come cheap. It starts at about $12 for a 750 ml bottle and if you really want to go fancy, you can shell out $60,000 for a bottle of Acqua di Cristallo “Tributo a Modigliani”, giving new meaning to the expression ‘.money like water’.
In that case, however, the price is not so much determined by the content as by the container: the bottle is a replica of Modigliani’s sculpture of a woman’s head encrusted in 24-karat gold. Yes, water is moving up in the world!
Water like Wine
The hub of the world of fancy water is the Patina Restaurant in down-town Los Angeles, which has a water list of 4 dozen pages and employs the U.S.’s foremost water-taster, or rather ‘sommelier’, Martin Riese, who wrote the authoritative book on the subject titled ‘The World of Water’ .
Closer to Home
On a less grand scale, the waters on the shelves of your local supermarket usually do not come from such exotic places, but from purification plants. Some brands claim that their water comes from pristine springs in the Rockies, but by and large, it is purified tap water with additives, some useful and some not.
Useful are the added minerals, jointly called ‘electrolytes’, because they enhance absorption and give the water taste. Added vitamins are not so useful, since most vitamins are not soluble in water. Water, therefore, normally does not contain any and so your puzzled body gets rid of them at the earliest opportunity.
The Fountain of Youth
Another selling point of bottled water is ionization. Ionization lowers the acidity of the water and thereby, presumedly, the body Ph of the consumer, which would slow down the corrosion of the cells generally known as aging.
However, there is no basis in science for this. Quite the contrary, the body has some powerful mechanisms to keep its Ph where it is and immediately compensates when there is a change one way or the other. The fountain of youth remains a legend.
But yes, most of these waters do taste better than tap water, because they do not contain the levels of chlorine or limestone which would make someone like Martin Riese cringe when sampling our Tucson City water.
Apart from the usual carbon footprint of production, transport, and distribution, there are no big environmental problems with these waters – except one: they come in plastic bottles and the world is getting flooded with those to the tune of almost 50 billion a year.
(Broadcast 3:35. This episode aired previously on 11/14/2016)
The Weekly Green is a KXCI mini-program on environmental topics from Southern Arizona and the rest of the universe.
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