Daniel Gross at Slate:
Last month, the San Francisco Chronicle spotted a hot new food trend in the Bay Area. Instead of offering diners a choice of still or sparkling bottled water with their (inevitably) locally grown delectables, trendoid restaurants such as Incanto, Poggio, and Nopa now offer glorified tap water. Sustainable-dining pioneer Chez Panisse has also joined the crowd, tossing Santa Lucia overboard for filtered municipal water, carbonated on-site. The reason: It takes a lot of energy to create a bottle of water and ship it from Europe to California. And so of-the-moment bistros can boost their enviro cred by giving away tap water instead of selling promiscuously marked-up bottled water. “Our whole goal of sustainability means using as little energy as we have to,” Mike Kossa-Rienzi, general manager of Chez Panisse, told the Chronicle. “Shipping bottles of water from Italy doesn’t make sense.”
Chez Panisse’s decision to swap Perrier for public water highlights how quickly the culture surrounding food, drink, and the environment has shifted. Not long ago, bottled water represented the height of urban sophistication. Today, bottled water is just another cog in the carbon-spewing, globe-warming industrial machine. There is a growing conflict between those who want to drink clean, pure water and those who want to breathe clean, pure air.