Imported bottled water is arguably quite pretentious, especially when it reaches $10 a bottle, as San Pellegrino sparkling water has in NYC. On the other hand, you could pick up a case of 12 for less than a buck each if your friends take you to Costco, and if you’ve ever been in one, there is nothing pretentious about it…or is there?
“Pellegrino” means pilgrim in Italian (“san” means saint). According to San Pellegrino’s website, “In 1509, Leonardo Da Vinci, who dedicated extensive studies and a lengthy treatise to water, visited San Pellegrino to try its “miraculous” water.” In 2007, Lisetta, who’s dedicated extensive thought and numerous blog posts to Italian food, opens a bottle of the bubbly to escape from an oppressive heat wave. A pilgrimage of sorts for a foodie living in secular times?
Bottled water is often simply an indulgence, and despite the stories we tell ourselves, it is not a benign indulgence. We’re moving 1 billion bottles of water around a week in ships, trains, and trucks in the United States alone. That’s a weekly convoy equivalent to 37,800 18-wheelers delivering water. (Water weighs 8 1/3 pounds a gallon. It’s so heavy you can’t fill an 18-wheeler with bottled water–you have to leave empty space.) [….] Meanwhile, one out of six people in the world has no dependable, safe drinking water. [….] A chilled plastic bottle of water in the convenience-store cooler is the perfect symbol of this moment in American commerce and culture. It acknowledges our demand for instant gratification, our vanity, our token concern for health. Its packaging and transport depend entirely on cheap fossil fuel.
Ouch! It gets worse when they talk about San Pellegrino:
In the town of San Pellegrino Terme, Italy, for example, is a spigot that runs all the time, providing San Pellegrino water free to the local citizens–except the free Pellegrino has no bubbles. Pellegrino trucks in the bubbles for the bottling plant. [….] San Pellegrino’s 1-liter glass bottles–so much a part of the mystique of the water itself–weigh five times what plastic bottles weigh, dramatically adding to freight costs and energy consumption. The bottles are washed and rinsed, with mineral water, before being filled with sparkling Pellegrino–it uses up 2 liters of water to prepare the bottle for the liter we buy. The bubbles in San Pellegrino come naturally from the ground, as the label says, but not at the San Pellegrino source. Pellegrino chooses its CO2 carefully–it is extracted from supercarbonated volcanic springwaters in Tuscany, then trucked north and bubbled into Pellegrino.
What’s a conscientious gal to do? Confess on a blog? Will that wash away my carbon footprint? I’ve got 11 more bottles in my closet, and several more weeks of heat.