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  #1  
Old 05-18-2005, 04:13 PM
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The H2O challenge

I just love Stossel. Love Pen and Teller too. Putting the "bull" in bullsh!t.




The H2O challenge
John Stossel



May 18, 2005

Take a few ounces of water. Garnish with an elegant bottle and a large price tag. Convince Americans it's cool. Somehow, in the 1990s, a French company called Perrier did that, and now, America is getting soaked.

Today, Evian has surpassed Perrier in sales; it's now the chic French water of choice. It costs more than gasoline -- about $5 a gallon -- and if you'd rather wear it than drink it, you can pay $10 for a five-ounce aerosol can (ingredients: "aqua" and nitrogen).

Then there are Aquafina, Dasani, and the dozens of new brands of bottled water that have jumped into this billion-dollar business, including bizarre ones like Venus, the Water for Women, and Trump Ice, with the Donald scowling on the label. I'd have to be very thirsty to buy that.

Water comes out of public fountains for free. It comes out of your tap for pennies. Why buy it in bottles?

"Because it tastes better," people told us. So ABC News ran a taste test. We put two imported waters, Evian and Iceland Spring, up against Aquafina (America's best seller), American Fare (Kmart's discount brand), and some water from a public drinking fountain in the middle of New York City.

We asked people to rate the waters bad, average, or great. Many said one of the waters was bad. Which one? Why, Monsieur, that would be Evian, the most expensive, which came in last in our unscientific test. Evian had no comment. The water our testers like most came from Kmart: American Fare ranked first in our unscientific test, and it costs a third of what Evian costs. (Maybe that's why "Evian," spelled backward, is "naive.") Aquafina ranked second. Poland Spring came in fifth.

Tied for third were the water from Iceland and the New York tap water -- water that may have come as much as 100 miles through the antique pipes of New York before emerging from that water fountain. Even people who said they didn't like tap water liked it when they weren't told it was tap water. Of course, your local tap water may not be as tasty, but you owe yourself a taste test before you squander more money on the bottled stuff.

For a show on the Showtime cable channel, satirists Penn and Teller got a trendy California restaurant to let them fool customers with a "water steward." Like a wine steward, he had lots of fancy bottles, and most diners said they loved their elegant waters. "Oh, yeah, definitely better than tap water!" said one. But tap water is just what it was -- the "water steward" filled the fancy bottles using the hose on the restaurant's patio.

If taste doesn't justify the price of bottled water, maybe "purity" does. Some people have the notion that bottled water is healthier than tap. We sent some bottled and tap water samples to microbiologist Aaron Margolin, of the University of New Hampshire, to test for the bacteria that can make you sick, like E. coli. "There was actually no difference between the New York City tap water and the bottled waters that we evaluated," he said.

Some people worry about traces of chemicals, like chlorine, fluoride, copper and iron. There's a lot of misinformation suggesting tiny levels of pollutants injure people. They don't. Small amounts of chemicals are usually not only harmless, they even put them in vitamin pills.

Many scientists have run tests that find tap water is as good for you as bottled waters that cost 500 times more. I even asked the man the bottled-water association recommended we interview, Dr. Stephen Edberg, of Yale University's School of Medicine, "Is bottled water healthier than tap?" He gave me this sparkling gem: "I wouldn't say, uh, it's healthier than tap water. I mean, uh, it's both, they both provide, uh, water."

That's right: All those companies that charge you an arm and a leg are selling you, uh, water. I can't argue with that. They certainly are selling you water.

If you buy bottled water because you think it's healthier than tap, test after test shows no evidence of that. And if you buy fancy brands because you think they taste better, you're probably just buying hype.





2005 John Stossel
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  #2  
Old 05-18-2005, 04:19 PM
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Rob325_in_AZ Rob325_in_AZ is offline
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Reminds me of my grandpa's old folk-wisdom :

"A fool and his money are soon parted"
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Old 05-18-2005, 04:36 PM
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That reminds me.

I need to check on my Genuine California Sand franchises in Saudi Arabia.
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Old 05-18-2005, 05:36 PM
JetBlack330i JetBlack330i is offline
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Perrier is carbonated, so it's unfair to compare it with tap water.
But yeah, Stossel is my hero.
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Old 05-18-2005, 11:53 PM
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Carbonated waters aside, bottled water *do* have different tastes. Some people are not capable of finding it out, but if you like one taste over another other go for it.
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Old 05-19-2005, 01:52 AM
Alex Baumann Alex Baumann is offline
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I used to sell bottled water for living. Claiming that bottled water is purer than tap water and vice versa is a stretch by a long shot. But bottled water tastes definitely different, to me at least.

But I agree with Betcour. If you can't tell the taste difference, then you are better served with tap water.

That said, tap water in some cities contain high amount of lime. Use a water kettle over a 6 months of period and check the bottom of the container, you'll notice lime deposits. A 'good' water is lime-free. Our kettle in the office is lime-free since the day we bought it and that was 2 years ago.

Oh yeah, why buy orange juice, when you can grow your own oranges and press the juice?

Let us group buy a few cows, we might need milk too. Chicken anyone?
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Old 05-19-2005, 03:29 AM
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Very US/western Euro centric thinking.

Get global, through most of the world, bottled water is the ONLY safe drinking water. Heck, in many countries you can see things swimming in tap water, not to mention the things you can't see. Also the tap water contains more than trace amounts of heavy metals and chemicals such as solvents and pesticides. Heck, in some countries even the bottled water isn't safe to drink.

In the US I buy bottled water for convenience sake only. It is much easier to have bottleed water in the garage fridge, in the cooler at autocrosses/track events, and while driving. But I buy the cheap stuff, WalMart, on sale. It is all water.

There are also some studies out that show many of the bottled waters are not as microbiologically pure as tap water, in the US. There are no required standards for bottled water.
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Old 05-19-2005, 03:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Baumann
I used to sell bottled water for living. Claiming that bottled water is purer than tap water and vice versa is a stretch by a long shot. But bottled water tastes definitely different, to me at least.

But I agree with Betcour. If you can't tell the taste difference, then you are better served with tap water.

That said, tap water in some cities contain high amount of lime. Use a water kettle over a 6 months of period and check the bottom of the container, you'll notice lime deposits. A 'good' water is lime-free. Our kettle in the office is lime-free since the day we bought it and that was 2 years ago.

Oh yeah, why buy orange juice, when you can grow your own oranges and press the juice?

Let us group buy a few cows, we might need milk too. Chicken anyone?
Why is "good" water lime free? Lime is calcium. Calcium is goo dfor you, so why would having it in your water make it less "good." So you drink "god" water, then take calcium tablets to avoid osteoporousis?

Only problem with lime in water, is the deposits. Oh and if you homebrew, there are some styles of beer that do better with softer (less lime) water. But beers such as Bass ale depend on fairly high lime in the water to make the beer taste the right way. Same with Glenmorangie scotch whisky, only one that uses water froma spring from limestone rock.
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  #9  
Old 05-19-2005, 06:08 AM
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I buy Poland Springs from the local warehouse store to bring to work - the water in our building in Cambridge MA is At home I drink the tap water; it does have a little different taste from the Poland Springs but it is still fine. I have no use for "designer waters" - I dislike carbonated water too.
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  #10  
Old 05-19-2005, 09:18 AM
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RKT BMR RKT BMR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinecone
In the US I buy bottled water for convenience sake only. It is much easier to have bottleed water in the garage fridge, in the cooler at autocrosses/track events, and while driving. But I buy the cheap stuff, WalMart, on sale. It is all water.
I understand the convenience argument -- works for me too. We but flats of COSTCO Kirkland brand stuff for the same reason.

However, this whole thing got me thinking... why not just refill those stupid little bottles from the tap until they wear out? Would save a lot of bank.

I'm gonna try and see how burdonsome this might be. The main "convenience" for us is the stable of small containers.
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Old 05-19-2005, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKT BMR
However, this whole thing got me thinking... why not just refill those stupid little bottles from the tap until they wear out? Would save a lot of bank.
Generally I carry around a Nalgene bottle everywhere I go since I have a Brita filter system.

If I have the plastic bottles, I re-use them once or twice (after washing thoroughly with hot, soapy water) and then toss them. It's my understanding that bacteria will grow and it can be rather unsanitary to re-use them too often, even despite washing.
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Old 05-19-2005, 10:46 AM
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Mike 325xi Mike 325xi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa
Generally I carry around a Nalgene bottle everywhere I go since I have a Brita filter system.

If I have the plastic bottles, I re-use them once or twice (after washing thoroughly with hot, soapy water) and then toss them. It's my understanding that bacteria will grow and it can be rather unsanitary to re-use them too often, even despite washing.
I re-use them too, I have a filter on my faucet and I refill them from the cooler in work, but why would bacteria grow in them any more than any other plastic container?
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Old 05-19-2005, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike 325xi
I re-use them too, I have a filter on my faucet and I refill them from the cooler in work, but why would bacteria grow in them any more than any other plastic container?
When I read this, it made sense at the time.

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Old 05-19-2005, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa
When I read this, it made sense at the time.

Good enough for me!!
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Old 05-19-2005, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa
Generally I carry around a Nalgene bottle everywhere I go since I have a Brita filter system.
You childless types will never understand what we parental units mean by "convenience"

We're lucky if we can just located shoes on our way out the door and get places on time with the little tax deductions. Trying to keep track of a Nalgene bottle is, well, "inconvenient"

Hence the flat of cheapo COSTCO water... sits right next to the slding door on the way out to the garage. I grab 3-4 as I'm leaving with my son for Little League, for example. I'd go insane if I had to also ensure that a water bottle was located and filled.

OTOH, I can spend 20 minutes refilling a bunch of empties on a Sunday afternoon when there is no pressure, and restack them in the cardboard flat next to the door. Kinda like your lettuce prep on Sunday, babe
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Old 05-19-2005, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by RKT BMR
Kinda like your lettuce prep on Sunday, babe
Now there's some logic I understand!!
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Old 05-20-2005, 08:01 AM
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Unfortunately as much as I like the taste of my water at home I can't drink it. I have a well, and since my liver transplant I have to drink bottled water. I just go to Costco and buy Ice Mountain, which also comes from a well, but it is purified. I think I pay $6.25 for 28 24oz bottles. I do however make coffee, tea, and cook with my filtered well water at home because of boiling it in the process.
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Old 05-20-2005, 08:07 AM
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What I love are the people who won't drink tap water but who will guzzle fountain soda. Someone needs to get them a clue.

...mind you, bottled water can be damned convenient at times.
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Old 05-20-2005, 09:24 AM
postoak postoak is offline
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You guys really don't think that water that's been purified by reverse osmosis is purer than tap water?
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Old 05-20-2005, 09:45 AM
JetBlack330i JetBlack330i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
What I love are the people who won't drink tap water but who will guzzle fountain soda. Someone needs to get them a clue.

...mind you, bottled water can be damned convenient at times.
The argument for that is taste (or cafeine). Nothing to do with purity.
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Old 05-20-2005, 09:46 AM
JetBlack330i JetBlack330i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postoak
You guys really don't think that water that's been purified by reverse osmosis is purer than tap water?
You miss the point of the article (and the thread) completely.
The "impurities" are good for you, and needed by your body.
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Old 05-20-2005, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postoak
You guys really don't think that water that's been purified by reverse osmosis is purer than tap water?
Depends on the source of the tapwater. That said, generally "yes".

However, the far more pertinent question is, does it matter?
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Old 05-20-2005, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JetBlack330i
You miss the point of the article (and the thread) completely.
The "impurities" are good for you, and needed by your body.
I think the point of the article is people who drink bottled water over tap water are doing so for no good reason.

From the article
Quote:
If taste doesn't justify the price of bottled water, maybe "purity" does.
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Old 05-20-2005, 09:58 AM
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Call me squeamish, but I live near one of the lakes that supplies our tap water. I want as much separation (in terms of filters) from me and what's floating in that lake, as possible.
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Old 05-20-2005, 10:05 AM
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I have always disliked the taste of Evian. It tastes thick (hard to explain) to me.

I do notice a huge difference on coffee brewing with different water. The minerals, lime, salt, etc. do cause a difference in the taste. Considering that brewed coffee is about 99.7% water it makes sense.

I was always under the impression that NYC had one of the best public water supplies in the country.

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