Clean, fresh water is one of the most important ingredients in the kitchen. Not only should you be drinking it constantly, but it also goes into most things we cook. Your water quality can affect the taste of food and drinks so much it’s unbelievable. Have you ever made tea with tap water? Try making it with filtered water and you will see what I am talking about. So how do we get this great tasting water?
I always cringe when I see people in the grocery stores with two or three cases of plastic bottled water loaded in their carts. To me, there is nothing more wasteful, both from a money standpoint and from an environmental standpoint. Buying a bottle of water occasionally when you are out and about and forgot to fill up your reusable bottle is one thing, but using them as your main source of drinking water? Pure waste. And the cost! What’s more, there have been numerous articles about how plastic water bottles are filled with straight tap water instead of from those mountain streams so cleverly pictured on the front of the bottle.
I understand if its a taste thing, ever since I moved to North Carolina, I have been bitterly disappointed by the taste of the tap water here. Now, I got pretty spoiled in the water department after growing up in Harbor Springs, Michigan, where you can literally drink the water from the natural springs straight from the ground. Then, I lived in Scotland, where the water is amazingly clean and delicious (that’s why Scotch whiskey is so good, really!). Now I live in North Carolina where the water tastes a little like chlorinated pond (sorry, but it’s true).
When I received my 2015 Drinking Water Quality Report in the mail, instead of just tossing in the recycling bin as usual, I began to take a closer look. There was a nice chart which detailed the amounts of bacteria, turbidity (cloudiness of the water), organic carbon, fluoride, chlorine, disinfection byproducts, lead, and copper present in the tested water. There are federal limits that determine the amount of water that needs to be tested. However, as a former accountant, I can tell you that a sample size gives a good estimate, but it can’t tell you every last detail. Now this report really interested me, for example, the bacteria levels of the tested water where I live came in at 0.1% positive. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits that water systems need to abide by to distribute water to the public. In this instance, no more than 5% of the samples could be positive for bacteria. There is a big difference between 0.1% and 5%, I realize, but still. All I kept thinking was I really hope I’m not getting that glass of 0.1%. Obviously, we can’t worry about everything that could be detrimental to our health in this day and age, but something as simple as choosing filtered water to put that one worry to bed is worth looking into.
So why isn’t bottled water a good solution? An article I read on NBC Today claimed that Dasani and Aquafina bottled waters, owned by Coca-Cola and Pepsi, respectively, are simply bottles filled with water from the municipal water supply of the soft drink bottling plants. These are the two largest bottled water sellers in the United States, and certainly the brands you see most stocked in gas stations and vending machines everywhere.
Ideally, everyone should install a reverse osmosis water filtration system in their home. However, since I’m not in a position to fork over the thousands of dollars to install one of these systems at the moment, here is what I do. I purchased four three-gallon BPA-free plastic water jugs from my local Whole Foods Market. You can also buy these online on Amazon here. These four bottles usually last me about 5 or 6 days before I need to take them back to refill them. Plus, the upper body workout that you get from hauling these bottles once or twice a week in and out of your house and car is a plus. My Whole Foods charges $.39 cents a gallon for water refills, which I think is reasonable to pay. The research that I found estimates that commercial bottled water sells for an average price of $1.22 per gallon. However, Business Insider reports that since more than 2/3 of bottled water is sold in 500 ml sized bottles, the cost is closer to $7.50 per gallon, or more than twice the cost of a gallon of gasoline. I know there are people out there that will drive five miles out of the way to get gas that is $.03 cents cheaper per gallon then the station across the street, and then go inside the shop and buy a bottle of water.
If you are using a Brita water pitcher or other similar jug water filter, just note that these generally are filtering out chlorine, which is added to kill bacteria, and only affects the taste and smell of the water. The reports of pesticides, pharmaceuticals, bacteria and toxic metals that can be present in drinking water are real and scary. Water isn’t something you have in moderation or come in contact with just some of the time, it is all day, everyday. If you have growing kids, I believe thinking about your water quality is especially important, as these toxins are much more detrimental to growing brains and bodies.
At home, I have this glass jug that sits on my counter all the time that we refill our glasses from (I like to drink room temperature water). This jug pours easily and doesn’t leak, unlike others I have tried. I usually refill this jug two or three times per day.
For traveling, I always carry my Lifefactory 9 oz glass water bottle with me in my bag everywhere I go. This water bottle is not too large, so I can carry it easily, the screw top stays on (I have had tons of water bottles leak in my bag), and I like that it is glass and easy to clean. The silicone sleeve actually does protect the glass very well, as I have dropped this bottle many times and it has never broken.
I have a larger 16 oz bkr bottle that I use occasionally, however, I really don’t like the smaller mouth. It’s hard to pour the water into the bottle without making a huge mess and I feel like it takes forever to drink out of. These are the bottles you see all the celebrities toting around, but I’m not sure I agree with Hollywood here. Plus, they are pricey. If I’m going somewhere and I need a large quantity of water, I use my 1 liter Sigg stainless steel bottle. For my kids, my current favorite to-go water bottles are the CamelBak flip straw cups. They can use them easily, they don’t leak, and they are BPA-free. What more do you need from a kids bottle?
Also, an at home tip, I have found that if I fill my kids drinking cups with water in the morning and leave the cups out at their places at the table all day, they drink much more water throughout the day. They will often run by the table and pause to grab a few sips of water. Kids need to be drinking water too, and not only at mealtimes! Now go get your eight glasses in today, contaminant free please.