When Life Gives You Lemons, Have a Hissy Fit
I don’t have anything against lemons. They are a brilliant shade of yellow—one of my favorite colors—and they are simply beautiful to look at and use in decoration. I love the way they smell so fresh and clean, and they taste deliciously yummy in chicken picatta, lemon meringue pie, old-fashion lemon squares and my mother’s favorite, lemon-apricot cake. What I don’t like is a slice of lemon in my water.
I know it adds vitamin C and may aid in digestion, but I don’t like the way it makes my water taste. Obviously I’m in the minority, but being from the Deep South, I have a firm belief that when lemons are added to water, they need to be accompanied by sugar. If I wanted lemon water, I would order lemonade, which I really don’t like very much.
I am a water drinker. I have not had a soda in practically 25 years, and have all but given up iced-tea because I don’t need the sugar, I don’t like it unsweetened and I have a fear of artificial sweeteners. I am one of those people who can tell the difference in taste of various brands of bottled waters; there are certain brands I refuse to drink. That may sound as if I am a water snob; I’m not, I actually just usually order tap water. But haven’t we all gone a little far with the whole bottled water, still water, sparkling water, lemon, no-lemon thing?
Back when I didn’t mind paying five or six dollars for an oversized bottle of imported water, I would order still. If you notice, no one ever offers you a slice a lemon to muck up your six-dollar water.But, undoubtedly, a lemon slice shows up on the rim of my water glass at every restaurant. Lemons were never put on an iced water glass when I was a kid. My theory is that some hoity-toity restauranteur, probably in California, started the trend, and then everyone jumped on the lemon bandwagon. Lucky for the lemon growers in California and Arizona (where 100% of American lemons are grown), the lemon industry is booming. Americans consume close to 100-million tons of lemons each year.
Here’s what really gets me though, restaurants also put lemon slices on my children’s water glasses. They don’t like it either, and immediately take the lemon off of their glass and put it on mine, causing me to take all three slices and place them in my bread plate. It’s wasteful. I know we can ask for no lemons, but there is such a habit of including them now, most of the time the request is forgotten.
Here’s another kicker. The bottled-water wave has made people afraid to drink their tap water. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “There is no assurance that just because water comes out of a bottle it is any cleaner or safer than water from the tap. And in fact, an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle—sometimes further treated, sometimes not.”
What? We buy bottled water that has a 25 percent chance of being identical or worse than the water coming from our taps that we also pay for. That’s ingenious—for the bottled water companies. There’s money in placebo water!
I’ll tell you a secret. I was buying bottled water that had a 7.0 pH for one-dollar a bottle on sale. I went through three to four bottles a day (I know—I’m rolling my eyes, too). One day I had the brilliant idea to call the water department to inquire about the pH of my tap water. That’s when I stopped buying all the bottled water. I was informed that my tap water’s pH runs between 7.0 and 7.6 pH at all times. Plus, the water is checked for quality on a consistent basis and an up-to-date water report is available to the public anytime. Boy, did I feel dumb.
I worry about consumers, waste and the planet. Granted, the lemons are all-natural and will decompose without harming the earth—I think. But lemons are not cheap. Think about the expense restaurants have in giving everyone a lemon slice on a free glass of water. They are actually spending money to provide you with a free drink. They had to pay someone to cut those lemons, too.
Somebody’s paying for those lemons – and speaking of paying—think of the high price our earth is paying for all the plastic used in bottling water. According to National Geographic, Americans drink more bottled water than any other nation, purchasing an impressive—or perhaps depressive— 29 billion bottles every year. Only about 13 percent of those bottles get recycled. Just think, that massive number doesn’t even include soda and sports drinks bottles.
Earth Day is April 22; I’m not asking you to stop drinking bottled water. In fact, I can promise you will see me drinking bottled water in the future, but let’s all get mindful of the impact, the costs and the waste. Let’s start thinking smart and being smart. Any little change makes a tremendous difference—imagine if you and ten million of your fellow Americans decided to drink one less bottle of water on Earth Day. Well, that would be smart on so many levels—less waste, less paying for something you already get for free. Now that’s as refreshing as a tall glass of ice water on a hot, summer day.
—From the Tap—
By the way, here’s Mom’s recipe for Lemon-Apricot Cake, which I actually gave her, but somehow it is now deemed Mom’s. It’s delicious and easy!
1 Box Lemon Supreme Cake Mix
½ cup Sugar
⅔ cup Vegetable oil
1 cup Apricot nectar
1 cup Powdered sugar
Juice of 2 fresh lemons
Mix cake mix, eggs, sugar, oil and nectar together and bake in a greased and floured Bundt pan for one hour at 350°. Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice together and pour over cake while hot.