Saturday, April 07, 2007

Water on the Brain


San Francisco is a treat. Here in South Carolina, a sizable portion of the population still finds purchasing water in a bottle a strange affectation. Or, as my Uncle James Lee might say, "Why the hell would anyone pay good money for something you can get for free from the hose pipe?"

Bottled water has found a healthy market around here for take-home consumption, but this is mostly of the Dasani and similar varieties of "filtered waters" distributed by the soda companies. A few higher-end restaurants do offer specialty bottled water ("sparkling or still?"), but at most places you just get tap water over ice (and usually with a lemon wedge on the rim).

Not so under the Golden Gate. They are at least two steps ahead of us. First, bottled water became de rigeur in the finer Bay Area restaurants and (due to the amazing mark-up on the items) a major source of revenue for restaurateurs. Now, the trend is starting to roll the other way and restaurants are removing bottled water from their menus--and advertising the fact. As befits the West Coast, they are doing it in a self-righteous, moralizing fashion. It isn't sufficient to say, "why pay a bunch of money for bottled water?" Instead, it must be wrapped in a bunch of pompous rhetoric about "sustainable development" and "eating local" and saving the planet.
In solidarity, I pledge to go an entire week without buying a single bottle of water. It's the least I can do for Mother Earth. Literally.

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