I’ve received many questions about various H2O health issues: reverse osmosis, filtration, distillation and bottled water. I plan to discuss the various concerns throughout the month of May. For the record, I am not in favor of distilled water and I think many of the water fears we have are unfounded. But I’m especially critical of the bottled water scams I see.
In general, I understand the reasons people prefer bottled water – hey, we want to be drinking pure water, not chemicals. I’m right there with you. But there are some major considerations if you are concerned about the environment, about water pollution, about resources and sustainability, and, as a matter of fact, about your health.
For now, I’m going to direct you to Wise Bread’s three-part series on bottled water hype. It’s one of the best investigations of bottled water I’ve ever read. I urge you to read each segment. If you care about your health, your bank account, and your planet, you will.
Truth time: I like having bottled water on hand, especially that Fiji…am I falling for great marketing or what? But now that I’ve read Wise Bread’s series, I’m done with Fiji. It’s possibly the very last thing we should be drinking if we care about our health or want a future that includes clean water.
I’m not saying no to bottled water entirely. It’s a must for health and fitness. I keep a bottle in the car and I always grab one when I head out for a run, and it would be unreasonable and unhealthy to stop these habits. But I think it’s a good idea to buy a low-cost filter for the kitchen faucet as well as to refill those water bottles instead of contributing to the Pacific Ocean’s Texas-sized carpet of trash Sara discussed last week.
Here’s something serious to think about: how healthy is it to drink something stored in plastic?
Especially considering the enormous amount of pollution that’s dumped into our waterways and pumped into our skies just to make that plastic bottle? This isn’t about being an environmentalist; this is about fighting for our health. Our air and our water are nearing toxic soup status thanks to plastic that has to be refined and produced and then shipped on fuel-hungry boats and trucks just to get to us. I don’t think this makes me some nutty tree-hugger (although I really don’t get why, like vegetarians, nice people in general are deemed so threatening). I think this is a critical health issue, and I believe we’re being snookered by the bottled water industry. Someone’s sure enjoying the private jet.
I’m not fooling myself into believing the water that comes to us via the city pipes is ideal, but taking that same city water, sloshing it into a toxic, inefficient plastic package and dragging it thousands of expensive miles away to a different city to be chugged exotically strikes me as a pretty profitable scam.
This brings me to my favorite quote from Wise Bread’s debunkery:
“I’d argue that they’re [people who buy bottled water] probably health-conscious people who have bought into an idea sold by the water bottling companies – that their clean, pure water cleanses your body and flushes out toxins. The irony of this is that people who are concerned about environmental toxins in their systems are only helping to perpetuate the pollution and enviromental degradation by buying bottled water, the production of which just makes everything worse off in the long run.”
Bottled water – we drink it with the best of intentions for health and wellness. Water does nourish and cleanse our bodies. I’m certainly in favor of that. But bottled water comes with many problems, and the more I research, the more the quackery red flags begin to fly. I want this blog to exist in service of the truth, even when it goes against our assumptions and what we’re comfortable with telling ourselves. As I’ve said many times before, I think we owe it to ourselves – and our children – to critically examine all our health beliefs. Change can be mighty annoying – I thought I was doing myself a favor, and maybe you did, too. When it comes to bottled water, I am increasingly inclined to believe much of the issue boils down to some very successful marketing:
1) “Safety“: Turns out, it’s rarely any “better” than tap water. (Which is quite drinkable – at least in this country – contrary to popular opinion.) Drinkable doesn’t mean perfect, but bottled water purity standards are often identical to tap standards, and much of the bottled water we buy comes from the tap, anyway. Moreover, buying bottled water only makes the entire water problem worse. It’s a short-term fix that isn’t even a fix in most, er, cases (pardon the pun). And I have serious reservations about consuming any substance housed in plastic for any length of time.
2) “Purity“: As Wise Bread points out, no water is completely pure, anywhere, anymore. You’re better off filtering the water at home and saving yourself a lot of money, sparing the rest of the world some much-needed resources, and keeping the planet clean. I’ll still keep a few bottles around for guests and my Santa Monica mountain hikes, but that’s it.
3) “Marketing“: Just check out the Starbucks Ethos scam. Think you’re helping kids get pure water? Think again. I’m livid. What’s really sad is that, while our water isn’t perfect, it’s a lot healthier and safer than the water the rest of the world has access to, and our bottled water addiction only worsens their plight.
4) “Environment“: Think about the massive resources required to get a few ounces of questionably “pure” water into your hands from thousands of miles away. That’s a lot of fuel, shipping cost, electricity, water, plastic packaging, and pollution. Again with that irony: our waterways have become so polluted by fuel and chemical runoff, we pay to drink water that is supposedly free of these pollutants. Yet why do these pollutants increasingly seep into our waters? Bottled water is one big reason. We’re treating a very real problem with a solution that only worsens the problem – dramatically so.
The truth is often inconvenient and discomforting. Fortunately, this is offset considerably by one other characteristic: it’s inexpensive.
What do you think?
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
You best be clickin’!
No More Gold Stars for Fidgeters
Remember that “news” a while back that fidgeting was supposedly some glorious fountain (pen) of health? Well, it’s not. Blogger Bethany, we love thee.
The Chicken We Think We’re Eating
This is clickativity for readers with iron stomachs only. For our more sensitive apples, you may want to move on to Bill’s latest adventures (see below). Oh, wait…
Anyway, back when ye ole Daily Apple was but a seed in Sisson’s mind, we were seriously perturbed by the early research we were digging up. Perturbation #1? The fact that most commercial chicken breasts – the kind that go into McDonald’s sandwiches, for example – are up to one-fourth water and chemicals and salt. We thought this fake pumpery was ridiculous, but this (click at your own risk!) is simply unacceptable. When Russia won’t import your chicken, something has to be done!
Peep this: the little squawker is not down.
Why Cure Diabetes? It’s a Cash Cow (Allie, you’re doin’ a heckuva job!)
Health & Public Policy Collidathon – Clickativity:
Bill Works It: Progress on AIDS (Jealous of Hil?)
Ready for This? Are You Sure? It’s Big!
The Senate has passed a bill requiring the FDA to monitor Big Pharma in a meaningful way. You loyal apples know we are always in a hot fuss over FDA corruption, so we couldn’t be more thrilled about this positive news. Your elected skittles have determined that the FDA must not only monitor Big Pharma more closely, but that all clinical trials must be reported in a public database. Translation: no more reporting only the results that are desirable. It’s about time!
Note: No dictionaries were harmed in the writing of this post.
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites
Before we Bees expire from the sudden SoCal heat, Apples, we’ve brought you the best of the batch from today’s news and studies. Glaciers aren’t the only things melting around here. Where’s a walk-in freezer when you need one?
Not that you health smarties would ever make pasta a part of your daily routine, but be warned: Target’s pasta is sauced in salmonella. Wait, Target sells pasta now? Where have we been?
A Case for Starvation, Part 2
Strict calorie reduction: one of those very touchy, politically incorrect subjects bobbing about in health studies lately. Naturally…we’re all over it.
Want to live longer? Don’t eat much.
Food for thought: who says we need to eat three, or four, or six meals a day, every day, religiously? Why do we codify sensible health knowledge into bedrock health fundamentals not even kung fu masters could smash through? (Let alone Chuck Norris.) Will the world end if you don’t follow the three-meal-a-day rule? Will pigs fly if one day you drink two glasses of water and the next day you drink seven? Why do we like
being bossed around like grade schoolers rules so much? Maybe the great philosophers were right. Maybe humans will do anything but think. Okay, enough pondering. We’re going to go dunk ourselves in a bucket of ice now. How’s the weather in your neighborhood?
Whole Grain Shenanigans
This study is incredibly irritating. First, no one ruled out other possible factors that would contribute to better cardiovascular health. Secondly, the results were based on questionnaires the folks filled out themselves. And thirdly, the reduction in heart attack risk was merely associative. But you can bet the cereal makers of America are going to brag about a bowl of sugar flakes saving you from a heart attack with more zeal than the dairy industry brags about milk being a “proven” weight reducer…
…of two whole pounds…in some people…in a study funded by Big Moo.
Yet what do we see all over magazines and television? Low-fat dairy makes you skinny. And now, Big Agra – er, cereal – keeps you from getting heart disease! They should just hop into a bowl together and save everyone’s health! Ooh, ooh, we know – how about cereal in milk? That will save everyone’s health and make them skinny! Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?!
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Grocery stores are strange places full of even stranger food packaging concepts. Here’s some
food for thought edible substance for cerebration (pitifully-unsuccessful-avoidance-of-pun alert):
Have you noticed how plastic continues to pop up in all sorts of food packaging? We all know that plastic comes from a limited resource; producing, trashing and even recycling plastic all have unpleasant consequences. And when it comes to health, it’s questionable if we want things like thalates in the same hemisphere as our food, let alone the same room.
Still, plastic persists: convenience remains the crowning virtue. (Although, in my opinion, the “convenience” of plastic packaging is still up for debate. This excessive layering is responsible for at least one post-gym “I need to eat!” meltdown per month by yours truly. Layering in fashion is one thing, but in food packaging? We don’t take food snowboarding with us, nor does food need to brave the indoor-outdoor urban trotting of a winter trip to the East Coast. Is this really necessary?)
But, truthfully, I hadn’t given much thought to things like these little plastic cap switcheroos…
Until I learned that there’s a permanent Texas-sized carpet of debris lolly-gagging around the Pacific Ocean’s northern gyre. Just call it Patchwork Pacific.
(These images are not to scale.)
This really bugs me. In light of our current health and environmental concerns, things like this new Kraft product are totally ridiculous!
I know we’re all working hard and we’re busy, but do we need to be throwing away millions of plastic shredders that come attached to our cheese? I actually liked shredding my parmesan with my own shredder – you know, one that you don’t throw away with each block of cheese. I’m not saying I counted it as a workout or anything, but is it that inconvenient to retain ownership of a shredder that’s not physically attached to my Manchego? Is the extra arm movement required to open the drawer really so exhausting that Kraft feels they’re doing us a favor? Was this a gaping void in the marketplace of which I was unaware?
What do you all think? Perhaps your editor is being too critical of “food” marketers (using-term-generously alert). Perhaps the days I skipped macroeconomics as a slacker college student are coming back to bite me after all these years. (Darn that Professor Carter!) Enlighten me, Kraft!
Until the next shopping adventure, friends…
(Psst: just before hitting “Publish” I ran a quick Google search and found this very sensible review from the Accidental Hedonist, so I’m relieved to find I’m not the only one who thinks this product is both asinine and wasteful.)
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
Both wine and chocolate are in the news!
Glug, Glug? Yeah, Yeah
Yet another alcohol study. This one is all over the news: drinking decreases brain size. To be clear, for each level of consumption, the scientists found a .25 percent shrink. (That’s a fourth of one percent, not twenty-five percent…whew!). The levels were defined as the following number of drinks per person per week: 0 drinks, 1-7 drinks, 8-14 drinks, and 14 or more drinks weekly. In other words, the heaviest drinkers of all lost just over a percentage point in brain size.
We’re not big on alcohol around these parts, but this is one of those relative nutrition topics Mark takes with a grain of salt. Like chocolate and coffee, wine is one of those “marginally nutritious” issues that is endlessly debatable and ultimately not a huge factor in health, in the sense that there is probably some benefit to be gained from reasonable consumption thanks to the antioxidants, but don’t expect any miracles. It’s important to put these sensational stories in perspective: a lot of alcohol is bad, a little, on balance, is probably good; but ultimately, water, exercise and a daily salad is more significant anyway!
New England Journal of Medicineyness Reports
There’s a big ruckus over the bill in Congress that is seeking to limit pharmaceutical drug advertising during prime time television (enough with the puppies and flowers already). This is an excellent read for those who are interested. It’s freedom of speech versus direct-to-consumer drug advertising. Oh, the Skittles. What do you think?
Web it out:
It’s not just Cracker Jack’s that include a free prize!
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