L.A. Has the Tastiest Tap Water

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News worth an honorable mention.


So, now it's that time of day when we talk to you about the news that doesn't always make it to the front covers of the papers, doesn't always make it to the top of the newscast, but it matters to us. We think it matters to you. We call it The Ramble.

(Soundbite of music)


I'm going to venture to say at least it entertains you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: How about that? It might not matter a lot. Will matter - you know what?

MARTIN: That's just so heavy.

STEWART: It depends. Just depends. I'm not going to tell it doesn't matter to them.

MARTIN: We're not going to discriminate.

STEWART: No. You might think this matters a lot that there's a Noah's Ark of seeds opening at the Arctic tomorrow.

MARTIN: It matters to me.

STEWART: It's called - it's been called a doomsday vault. It has the capacity to hold up to 4 and a half million batches of seeds from all known varieties of earth's main food crop. So what is the point? Well, it's to reestablish plants in the event of a global catastrophe - hence, the doomsday vault name. It's carved into the permafrost of a mountain 600 miles from the North Pole - all right, everybody. So now you know where it is. The mountain is part of Norway, which is splitting the $9 million bill on this project. It's surrounded by high concrete walls and armored doors, a century alarm, polar bears. It's high enough that it would not flood if ice sheets melt completely during global warming, if and when that should happen. Other biodiversity vaults around the world have been destroyed, gone. Gene vaults in Iraq and Afghanistan were destroyed by war. A typhoon destroyed a seed bank in the Philippines. Other countries, including Pakistan and Kenya, have sent their seeds to the new vault ion Norway for protection.

MARTIN: Now this is interesting. I did not know any of that.

STEWART: There you go.

MARTIN: So I learned something.

Okay, this is a story about a very old, established business in Seattle closing down. Forty family members and friends gathered at the Yick Fung Company in Seattle yesterday to bid farewell to this what has been, for many years, a Seattle Chinatown institution. It's an import-export store, and it closes its doors on Friday, after 98 years in business - over a hundred years.

STEWART: Oh, those stories break my heart when those business that have been around forever just…

MARTIN: A century.

STEWART: I know.

MARTIN: It's amazing. They opened in 1910 and became a community center for immigrants from China, and people rented room above the stores and found-hard-to-find items from home in this import-export store. Yick Fung ships food across the country, even, as well. The proprietors ran the China Cab Company, a cargo service, a steamship company that brought Chinese people over to Seattle before World War II, and they also ran a barber shop. Much of the store will be preserved, though, in the Wing Luke Asian Museum, which opens in its new location next to Yick Fung at the end of May.

STEWART: I'm glad to know it'd be preserved.

MARTIN: It will be preserved.

STEWART: All right. This sounds like it was to be a very serious conference -the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm.

STEWART: Researchers, doctors gather together to discuss and talk about the causes of stroke and how to go about preventing them, as well as helping people who have them. Well, there's a new study from the University of Minnesota was presented, and it suggests that people with cats were 30-40 percent more likely - excuse me, people who did not have cats, feline-less people…

MARTIN: Feline-less people.

STEWART: …were 30-40 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease.


STEWART: In other words, having a cat might be good for your heart. Now this is - okay.

MARTIN: I don't believe it.

STEWART: Look at this. They culled information from 4,435 people who answered questionnaires about pet ownership and other risk factors. The very odd thing, what they can't really explain, dog owners have the same rates as non-dog owners. Apparently, there was something about having the cat that help prevent strokes, possibly.

MARTIN: And you don't think it - I don't know. It seems like it could be a whole variety of issues.

STEWART: Could be.

MARTIN: These studies, I tell you, it's probably done by the cat lobby.

STEWART: I like cats.

MARTIN: I don't like cats.

STEWART: I love cats.

MARTIN: I'm sorry. Don't write me an e-mail. We'll talk about it on the blog.

STEWART: Sonny Liston hangs out at the bottom of the bed at night, purring.

MARTIN: Okay. More on that later.

STEWART: Scratch behind the ears.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Everyone would be laughing when I die of cardiovascular stroke disease. Anyway, okay. Tap water. This is interesting to me, because I really like drinking tap water, and it upsets me when I live in places where the tap water is bad - when it's bad. And I was surprised to learn this morning that Los Angeles, City of Angels, has the nation's most delicious tap water. This is from the city that has the worst pollution, but they've got good water. Tying a water from British, Columbia, which is apparently came in for - they tied for first place in a water tasting competition. Waters from 19 states and 9 foreign countries - these waters were judged by journalist and food at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting in West Virginia. Judges based in rankings on taste, odor, mouth feel - I don't really get that one - and after taste. According to an AP story about the contest, they checked to make sure that nothing was floating in the water. That's sound like a good idea as well.

STEWART: Good. That's a good thing to check.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm. Hey, that does it for your Ramble. You can find these links and more on our Web site: npr.org/bryantpark.

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