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The Alternative to Soda

March 19, 2014

Yesterday’s position piece about why Chipotle should remove its soda fountains reminded me of something I wrote over two years ago. Pop Culture detailed the very real effects of living in a soda culture. And it goes far beyond obesity into much more insidious realms.

So, how do we try to undo the harm done by soda marketers and those who have been complicitly pushing their super-sweetened crap? Demonizing soda doesn’t work. So instead of telling people what not to drink, perhaps it’s time to celebrate a better alternative.

Now, without further ado, it’s time to meet your new favorite beverage. And before you dismiss it on its face, I hope you will hear me out.


Drinking more water may actually be the answer to everything. But far too often drinking water is seen as a chore. You’ve probably heard some very healthy person lecturing you at one point that you had to drink an impossible number of glasses per day if you didn’t want to die of cancer.

Honestly, I don’t know what they said. I just knew I wasn’t about to drink that much so I just tuned out the message.

Let’s take the obligation out of water.

Americans are incredibly lucky. We have fresh clean water coming out the wazoo. Look around the world for a moment and notice how many people still have to get their water from a well or a stream. And look at the turbidity. That’s some funky, cloudy water they’ve got. Ours won’t make you sick. You don’t even have to boil it. And I’m guessing that wherever you live you, at the very minimum you have three different spigots that will give you fresh water. On demand. Indoors!

We’re living the dream. All jokes aside, we really, really are. But let’s take the guilt away too.

Some people say they don’t like the taste of water. You know, maybe it’s the water. But maybe it’s you. This is going to sound funny, but I’ve always found the really cold water always tastes best after I’ve thoroughly cleaned my teeth with something minty. Man, I love that cool snappy feeling. Or maybe you could benefit from a simple water filtration system. I know that in our Princeton apartment, our water tasted a whole lot better after installing a drugstore filter on the sink.

And there is nothing wrong with doctoring your water too. A little squeeze of lemon juice brightens it up, a few rounds of cucumber are really refreshing, and if you’re loath to give up sweet drinks entirely you can add a splash of fruit juice.

Still, some find it hard to make water fit into their day. Here are some ideas.

1) It tastes so good after brushing your teeth in the morning and before bed
2) It fills you up before meals, so you’ll be less inclined to overeat
3) It helps to break down food while you are eating
4) It rehydrates you when you have been sweating from exertion
5) It slows down your cocktail consumption and staves off hangovers
6) It is great to sip while perusing the wine list
7) It can relax you when heated with herbs and flowers

And that is just for starters. There is a whole wide world of bottled waters on the market that each have slightly different taste profiles. I have a soft spot for Volvic and Poland Springs.

Sure, you could argue that there are some foods that work especially well with soda. Mostly these are greasy salty things that really benefit from the sweetness and acidity to cut through and counteract the flavors. You know, like pizza and movie popcorn with butter-flavored grease.

I’ll admit that in these cases water can fall short.

However, for what you lose in the juxtaposition of sweet and salty, you gain in your ability to better taste the food that you are eating. Much like eating cheese will make a thin wine taste richer and fuller, drinking soda will help to mask the flaws of a crappy pizza.

Ultimately, turning to water will improve your taste. Now granted, that’s a double-edged sword. You may come to realize that food you thought was good was merely just a salty foil for the sugary goop in your glass.

So next time, anyone asks you what you would like to drink, I’ve got you covered. It may take some practice to form the words and get them out of your mouth. So let’s try it together.

“I’d like…

…to start…

…with a glass…

…of water, please.”

Just start with the water. Have a sip. Maybe it’s all you want. Or maybe you will want to have something else. But let’s get that water on the table. Let’s be unapologetic. Let’s appreciate the simple things. Let’s commit to tasting our food. And let’s save our sweets for dessert.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2014 1:42 pm

    > We have fresh clean water coming out the wazoo

    That ain’t water.

  2. March 19, 2014 2:05 pm

    I’m with you, I drink water most of the time.

    Carmen got fed up with carrying GMO sodas at the Café, so she dropped all the usual suspects. We picked up a line of British botanical-based sodas, Fentimans. Because they are made in Great Britan, no GMOs are allowed. Our favorite is the Burdock-Dandelion, and they have a very nice Rose Lemonade that almost smells like perfume. Complex, subtle— adult sodas.

    I’m a big fan of ginger ale, but the ones with good ginger are w-a-a-a-a-y too sweet. Now we make our own, called Jim-Gerale. It’s sweetened with organic apple juice and a dab of agave, 19g of carbs per serving vs. up to 45g in others. Try it the next time you are up!

  3. albanylandlord permalink
    March 22, 2014 1:58 pm

    Everyone looks at me like I am crazy when I say I prefer water with lunch or dinner, but thats what I want. Plenty of ices tea too in warmer weather, and an occasional “adult soda” treat like Gus, Fentimans, or Ginger beer. And lots of beer of course.

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