Review: Bottled and Sold

Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled WaterBottled and Sold
by Peter H. Gleick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bottled and Sold / 978-1-597-26528-7

I picked this book up as an advance review copy from NetGalley; I already knew enough to be dangerous on the problems with bottled water from an environmental and ethical standpoint, so I wasn't sure if this book would be a dry retread over material I already knew.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book; it really could be called "The Complete Bottled Water Story". Everything you might ever want to know about bottled water is here, in a clearly organized and compellingly written format. Author Gleick writes smoothly and with a sense of humor as he explains the differences between tap water and bottled water composition, regulation, and inspection facts; readers will laugh when the Fiji vs. Cleveland ad campaign is covered, and long-time skeptics like myself will be pleased to note that the incomparable James Randi is invoked in the chapter on "super-oxygenated" (and other mystically-endowed) water and it's supposed health benefits.

It's really pleasantly surprising to find a well-organized book on the subject that clearly understands the importance of the science behind both the environmental/ethical aspects, but also the social aspects as well. Gleick brings fascinating tables and studies to the forefront, ranging from the results of blind taste tests (most people prefer tap water!), to the bottling locations of most major brand waters (just because the brand has a 'place name' doesn't mean the water in the bottle has ever been there!).

"Bottled and Sold" really understands the importance of laying out an argument factually and calmly, without giving way to hysterics. The point is made that while tap water is usually safe in America - indeed, most often *safer* than the water in your bottle - not everywhere has the same luxury, and we need to address that. 'Bottled water' isn't excoriated merely for being water in a bottle as opposed to a pipe; but, rather, the serious environmental, safety, health, and ethical concerns that come along with commercial water bottling are addressed. It's obvious that the author hopes that the reader will come away from the book with a deeper understanding of the issue and a willingness to kick the bottle habit, but there's no shaming on the reader if they eventually choose otherwise.

If you are interested in the subject, or love reading "greenie" books in general, I highly recommend this treatise. I enjoyed "Bottled and Sold" from start to finish, and found that it contained quite a bit of information on the subject matter that I hadn't anticipated and had not come across before now.

NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through NetGalley.

~ Ana Mardoll

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