Our ideas about bottled water are too simplistic. Not all bottled waters are the same. Water is not just water! This is a 9-part series exploring the symbolism and significance of water, the choices we make about the water we drink, and the environmental impact of the bottled water industry.
Dr. Elena Berg
Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Science
Director, Joy and Edward Frieman Environmental Science Research Center
The American University of Paris, France
Dr. Michael Mascha
Founder FineWaters (http://finewaters.com/) Fine Water Academy (http://finewateracademy.com)
Our ideas about bottled water are too simplistic. Not all bottled waters are the same. Water is not just water! This is the first of a 9-part series exploring the symbolism and significance of water, the choices we make about the water we drink, and the environmental impact of the bottled water .
Water is central to life. Why is that? Where does Earth’s water come from? Why is water so important to humans? Here we discuss the history of human connection to water and the controversial “aquatic ape” hypothesis.
Until about 10,000 years ago, humans lived in small nomadic groups that moved seasonally to track resources. As settlements and cities grew, there was a growing need for water and sewage system separation. With increasing population density, water became a source of illness. In the early 20th century, chlorination was introduced, and this is often cited as the single most important life-saving invention. We’ll briefly discuss the rise of spa culture, which generated the world’s first commercial bottled waters. .
In this episode, we discuss all the things that distinguish one water from another: Minerality, Carbonation, pH, and Sources of water. We also talk about the difference between Natural and Processed water. Natural water is taken directly from the source and reflects that area’s unique history and terroir. Processed water is tap water that is further treated and then placed in a bottle. .
We introduce the concept of the Small Water Farmer. What do we mean by this, and why is this distinction important? .
Water is a powerful symbol, and bottled water has taken on a life of its own in recent decades. Water is championed as a basic human right that should be freely available to all. When it is bottled, it becomes a commercial commodity, a fashion statement, a convenience, and/or a symbol of public distrust of municipal water sources. No other bottled drinks attract this much controversy, even though the main ingredient is water. Why does water bring out such strong emotions in people?
The bottled water industry has become a major battleground for environmentalists. Images abound of heaps of plastic bottles in landfills, and giant garbage patches in the ocean. What is the impact of discarded plastic on the environment, and what can we do about it? Although using less is ultimately the best route forward, we also discuss recycling options and when and whether to buy glass instead of plastic. We also share a flowchart or “key” that Elena created to help direct your water choices. *Important note: Elena misspoke when she was citing pollution statistics! The vast majority of plastic waste ends up in landfills, not the oceans. But the message remains the same: the impact of all this plastic is largely unknown, both on land and in the water, with demonstrated negative effects of microplastics on many organisms.
The water we drink hydrates us, but it should also bring us pleasure. In this episode, we explore this notion of pleasure and the elevation of water to an epicurean experience.
We conduct a water tasting with famous water sommelier Martin Riese. .