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col Bianchi -- Bottled water cause for soul-searching

I finally broke down. I bought a case of bottled water. Water to drink. Anyone from the younger generation reading this is probably saying "unbelievable!" Oh, I do on occasion buy a bottle of water. Not being a soda or beer drinker, there are times when it is either that or go thirsty. That is, if I forgot to take my very own water along. Which, by the way, is a recycled bottle filled with our own tap water at home!

Call it cheap, or call it conservative. But water has always been a hard for me to spend money on. We all have our own priorities. I've never had a problem buying frivolous things that I certainly don't need and others might consider waste. But buying bottled water has roots that run deep. No way my parents would have given their blessing to this; and obviously I have a little of them in me. Along with not running too much bath water, switching off the lights upon leaving a room, or shutting the TV off if no one is watching it! Should we have wanted a drink of water, there was a faucet by the kitchen sink to get it from. And furthermore, it had its own permanent glass to use which stayed there ALL the time and we ALL drank from it, living to tell about it! (No, there was no spigot on the fridge) And if we wanted extra cold water, we were invited to go outside and pump it fresh from the well and use the tin cup that hung there 24/7 and swayed in the dust and wind.

And we lived through that, too! (Come to think of it, it doesn't sound very appetizing, does it?)

If there were extra hands around, such as at threshing time, a milk can filled with water and a dipper to serve it with stood in the front yard and satisfied everyone's thirst, as well, as wash the snuff down!! And there's still a few of those bundle-loading gentlemen around today to tell their share of stories about it.

But back to buying bottled water. It just so happened that we had overnight guests -- not farmers such as we still, consider ourselves to be -- and I decided that, in keeping with the times, it would be proper to furnish them with bottled water. Thus, the reason for my purchase. I do realize that the chemicals and other safety factors we deal with today have probably been the reason behind the growing increase in sales of this product. Yet there are times when I wonder if it is always a necessity or what guarantee there is that purchased products are 100 percent healthy and germ-free. Are we a cautious or a spoiled generation?

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What really brought these thoughts to mind was an article published in our church bulletin one Sunday. It was food for thought, or should I say "water" for thought! And so I share it with you: It began with a verse from the Bible -- "Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones .... will, surely not lose his reward." And then continued with these words of wisdom "You see it everywhere! Sales have increased dramatically in this country in the past decade. Gas stations and convenience stores have rearranged their displays to accommodate the rapid growth of the market."

The influx has even had an environmental effect as recyclers and landfills try to cope with the packaging. What is it? Bottled water! Isn't is amazing how many people pay cash everyday for something that health officials in the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries sought to make freely available?

The push to enact laws to provide safe drinking water to the public was a great achievement. Today, many of us spend money for what we can get out in each home.

What are we doing to give a cup of cold water to the little ones?"

Yes, we really could feed a lot of poor children with the money used to buy bottled water, soda, beer, cigarettes; and I can't forget the chocolate I love -- all things we could do without!

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