A decade or two ago, bottled water was associated with the WASPiest of the white -- alpha-dog fitness geeks, neurotic soccer moms, people too good for what comes out of the tap. Now, according to a new Mother Jones article, bottled water companies like Dasani (owned by Coca-Cola) and Fiji are targeting African American and Latino customers. And African American and Latino customers are buying it -- spending far more of their income on bottled water than white consumers.
Rather than taking heart in the broader gourmet-ification of America, or finding hope in a switch from soda to less sugary beverages, the article reports a more depressing explanation: Water in low-income neighborhoods is more likely to be contaminated. According to the article, "The Natural Resources Defense Council reported in 2004 that 3 in 5 African and Latino Americans live in communities that are also home to Superfund sites, which are prone to releasing toxins into nearby groundwater supplies."
Turns out bottled water is for people too good for tap water -- and the problem is the water, not the consumer.