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Purity in a Bottle By Pat Kettles

Today’s ubiquitous container of bottled water is not a new phenomenon. One of America’s first bottled waters, Saratoga Springs, debuted in 1872 in the Adirondacks in New York State. This naturally effervescent water was first marketed as a curative for upset stomachs. Many early bottled waters were touted as curatives for a world of ailments. As word spread of these curing waters, resorts developed around springs like Saratoga and France’s Perrier where the rich and famous came to take the “cure.” Taking the “cure” is steeped in history; water was revered and worshipped by the ancients not only as a necessity for survival, but also for its healing and restorative powers. Elaborate Roman baths were constructed near thermal springs for the battle weary who came to recreate and recover in the warm waters. Our modern word Spa is an acronym for the Latin phrase sanus per aquam, health through water. By the nineteenth century numerous spas sprang up in both Europe and in America, but their waters were available only to those with means until clever entrepreneurs hit upon the idea of bottling the water and offering it to the masses. Among the earliest waters bottled for commercial exploitation were Evian and Perrier in France and Saratoga Springs and Maine’s Poland Spring in America. It is likely those taking the “cure” at these sites and those consuming bottled water from these commercially exploited springs saw improvement in some of their

ailments especially if these ailments were the result of water borne maladies. Public water supplies were abominable until the early part of the 20th Century. A bottled water industry thrived during this period especially in larger metropolitan areas where dense populations and poor sanitation disposal made it difficult to protect water supplies. In America bottled water remained the norm until 1913 when chlorination was used to purify Philadelphia’s water supply. Other cities quickly followed suit and potable tap water usurped the bottled water industry driving it almost to extinction. Ironically, it is the life saving addition of chemicals like chlorine that is causing today’s consumers to turn away once again from tap water in favor of fancy bottled waters. If dining in a “fancy-smancy” restaurant, expect to be presented a wine list and a bottled water list. Yes, the H20 list for water, minus any mention of generic tap, perfectly safe for human consumption in most instances. Europe, unlike America, never abandoned bottled water in favor of tap. Waitstaffs have

Summer 2010 Longleaf Style 33

Longlead Summer 2010  
Longlead Summer 2010  

The Summer 2010 issue of Longleaf