Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Can’t we just enjoy water?

Full glass of water with lemon and mint, with whole lemon, lemon slices, and sprig of mint next to it
Source of image: Pexels, under Creative Commons Zero Universal (CC0 1.0) license

On Friday afternoon, walking around Medford, Ore., we stopped in at a local eatery. From experience, we knew that if we didn’t speak up immediately, water glasses would be deposited on our table, and those glasses would be clogged with ice. So we quickly told our server, “We’d like water with no ice.”

The water, when it arrived, had no ice as requested but was contaminated by orange or lemon slices floating at the top of our glasses. When I say “contaminated,” I mean it. I fished my wedge out, but the taste of water retained its taint.

Those fruit slices, apparently refreshing to people with conventional palates, ruin the pure taste of water. If we knew ahead of time, which restaurants pollute the water, then we’d have asked for water “plain.” And if we’d wanted drinks that taste like orange or lemon, we’d have asked for lemonade or orange juice.

It makes no sense why we must go to such lengths to simply enjoy a glass of water.

Setting aside the “logic” of ice-water served on an icy winter day, there’s a serious moral consideration behind serving unasked-for glasses of water.

Just a few miles away, the state of California is experiencing persistent drought. As of December, the state continued to observe long-term water savings measures by Governor’s Executive Order.

Natural ecosystems don’t observe state boundaries. Yet, restaurants in southern Oregon let water go to waste, by serving ice-water to patrons who didn’t ask for it.

Add to that, the unwanted “flavoring” provided by a lemon wedge. At the Huffington Post, writer Laura Schocker suggests it’s a disgusting practice, one that risks raw-meat or other microbe contamination.

So, really, there are two issues I think need to be addressed. Restaurants need to stop serving glasses of water to patrons who did not ask for them, and they need to rethink or at least disclose ahead of time, the presence of added “flavoring.” Let those of us who simply want to enjoy water, be allowed to have that chance.

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