Slow Food Nation Takes Back the Tap | Civil Eats

Slow Food Nation Takes Back the Tap

Bottled water is hard on the Earth, so it’s not surprising that water packaged in plastic won’t be sold at Slow Food Nation. Instead, the 50,000 people expected to attend the sessions showcasing sustainable agriculture and healthful eating will quench their thirst with tap water.

Slow Food Nation is not alone in its rejection of bottled water in favor of tap water. Across the country, big city mayors, including those in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and New York City, have prohibited the use of city funding for bottled water. Restaurants on both coasts and everywhere in between are shunning bottled water and serving their patrons from the tap. University groups and event planners also are joining this trend to take back the tap.

At the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, for example, the Tap In! student group was fed up with the sale of bottled water during new student orientation. So this year, the bottles will be banned and, instead, a tanker truck will distribute water. Organizers figure this will spare the campus of thousands of plastic bottles.

While this bottled water backlash is real and growing, much work remains in the quest to take back the tap. And that’s where Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch enters the picture. The non-profit organization dedicated to breaking the stranglehold that multinational corporations have over our food, fish and water resources has been busily educating consumers across the country about why bottled water is bad and then organizing them to take action.

In 2007, U.S. consumers wasted $12 billion on nearly 9 billion gallons of bottled water, in large part because advertising spin has led them to believe that water in a bottle is safer or better than tap water.

In addition, Food & Water Watch research has found that U.S. tap water is just as safe as bottled water and, in many cases, more so. The federal government requires far more rigorous and frequent safety monitoring of municipal drinking water than bottled water. Independent testing has found a wide range of heavy metal, microbial and chemical pollutants in bottled water. Although it’s not superior to tap water, bottled water is far more expensive. On a per gallon basis, tap water costs about $0.002, while bottled water costs $0.89 to $8.26.

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Meanwhile, the production and transportation of plastics takes a significant toll on the environment. Annual U.S. plastic bottle production requires more than 17 million barrels of oil, enough to fuel one million vehicles on our roads each year. The industrial processes emit toxic chemicals, while the transport adds more pollution and carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change.

Now, Food & Water Watch is taking a step beyond its research and organizing work. We will be catering the delivery of tap water for Slow Food Nation. Working in conjunction with SMWM Architecture, Urban Planning + Design, Food & Water Watch will coordinate the installation and operation of five tap water stations at the event and will sell patrons re-usable, environmentally friendly stainless steel canteens. Today we are also releasing a guide for caterers, conference planners or anyone who wants to plan an event that excludes bottled water.

Together, Food & Water Watch and Slow Food Nation aim to educate tens of thousands of consumers about the bottled water bane and to help them change their behavior right there on the spot. After all, they’ll be sipping on the alternative – clean, fresh tap water.

Photo by utnapistim

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Kate Fried is the deputy communications director and Robert Schubert is senior editor and researcher at Food & Water Watch. Read more >

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Join the conversation.

  1. Steve
    Thanks for doing all this. Local food is good food, and like "inflating your tires," it is something no one can stop you from doing.
  2. Richard Oxman
    I would like someone to contact me at or at my home phone in Los Gatos, CA at 408-358-5875 as I want to outline a proposal for taking action in California which will put achieving the goals of Slow Food Nation on a fast track in California. The proposal follows a new paradigm for action.

    The agenda of Food and Water watch would be advanced immediately. Thanks for your efforts/accomplishments to date. And merci for your kind consideration on this.

    Blessings in solidarity,
    Richard Oxman,,,
  3. Some tap water has objectionable taste or odor. It is also subjected to the condition of the conduit from the source to the point of use; not to mention that chlorine, THMs, fluoride, trace metals and pharmaceuticals can be present under EPA standards.

    All that noted, tap is basically safe and the best choice for our citizens. We have invested billions of dollars building the treatment plants and infrastructure to have potable water available everywhere. There is no need to use fuel for large trucks or plastic production to deliver water.

    For those of us that prefer contaminant free water from the tap, I find a reverse osmosis water cooler is a great solution. It purifies tap water at the point of use. This eliminates the objectionable elements of tap, while leveraging the municipal infrastructure. It is the next generation drinking water service and the green alternative to bottled water.
  4. Environmentalists need to join us in forcing legislators to stop adding unnecessary and harmful fluoride chemicals into the public water supplies in a futile attempt to reduce tooth decay in tap water drinkers.

    This might encourage more people to drink from the tap instead of the bottle

    Take action here:

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