If there’s one sure sign that the organic food movement has gotten a little out of hand, it’s this eye-opening New York Times report on “raw water” that’s currently circulating on the web.
Apparently, unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water is all the rage among Silicon Valley elites, who are paying $36.99 for a 2.5 gallon glass orb of untainted agua that’s bottled and marketed by Oregon startup Live Water (since the NYT piece was published, the price for 2.5 gallons has gone up to $69).
They’re not the only ones joining in on the raw water craze. As the piece notes, there’s an Arizona company that installs systems that enable people to collect water from the atmosphere around their homes, and a water store in San Diego that sells water that fluoride-free, chlorine-free and a “mineral electrolyte alkaline,” albeit for the much more reasonable price of $2.50 a gallon. The piece even quoted one Silicon Valley health enthusiast who goes “spring hunting” with friends, and brings his bounty to Burning Man.
Much as it sounds like hipsterism gone mad, it’s true that tap water is not made equal (see: Flint, Michigan). Depending on the state, it can contain chemicals and bacteria that can be extremely harmful to human beings. And it’s true that, in many areas, fluoride (the same as what’s in your toothpaste) is added during the filtering process. Most people would see that as a helpful disinfectant, but the founder of Live Water, Mukhande Singh, called it a “mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.” He also described tap water as “toilet water with birth control drugs in them.”
However, as crunchy granola as “raw” water sounds, unfiltered water can pose risks as well. According to the CDC, “while the water flowing in the streams and rivers of the backcountry may look pure, it can still be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other contaminants.” Thanks to animal poop, even the freshest-looking stream can therefore cause vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, along with diseases that killed people in droves just a century ago, like E. coli. According to one food safety expert, raw water contains “almost everything conceivable that can make you sick” (and, to make his point, added: “It’s fine till some 10-year-old girl dies a horrible death from cholera.” Ouch.).
If you do decide to drink spring water, the CDC recommends boiling it for at least a minute, or at least three minutes if you’re at a high altitude.
And for what it’s worth, The Environmental Protection Agency oversees the quality of the drinking water in the country, which makes the USA one of the safest water suppliers in the world. The American Water Works Association even conducts an annual “Best of the Best” drinking water taste test to celebrate the American cities with the best drinking water, which is something to raise a glass to!
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