As if raw milk wasn’t dangerous enough, people have taken their obsession with all things “natural” to a whole new and absurd level. “Raw water,” or water that comes directly from natural water sources without purification or treatment, is the next ridiculous trend to hit the American food scene.
“Raw water” is the term being used to describe water sold by specialty brands, whose companies are digging up groundwater, river water, and fluids from other sources and bottling it for a marked-up price. The water doesn’t undergo any treatment, it doesn’t have added chemicals, and it doesn’t pass through federal or municipal pipes like tap water does - each 2.5-gallon jug sells for a whopping $36.99. All this for water that the consumer could go out and lap up from the source themselves, were they to live nearby a body of sourced water.
You might be wondering, Why on Earth would people want water that’s still dirty? Good question. While in the past, ultra-purification of water was on-trend, now the earthy-crunchy, from-the-source, “as Mother Nature intended” aspect of the water has developed an appeal. Additionally, as reported by The New York Times, supporters of the trend believe “the wrong kind of filtration removes beneficial minerals... [and] kills healthful bacteria.” The companies’ most successful locations for sales are in Silicon Valley, a region of California notorious for its wealth and investment in health trends.
To top it all off, this water might not actually be safe to drink. Fluoride from your tap might sound scary, but it pales in comparison to what’s lurking in nature’s murky depths. Instead of the minerals and nutrients that its drinkers expect to soak up, this water might deliver a nasty case of vomiting or diarrhea instead. Somewhat less glamorous, don’t you think?
As Ars Technica points out, “scouted spring water” isn’t subject to much of the regulatory supervision that protects bottled and tap water. A close reading of one company’s 2015 analysis indicated no testing for common water-borne pathogens like Legionella and Giardia.
You see, even the prettiest, glassiest stream could be harboring contaminants from animals, soil, and pollution. There’s a reason the Environmental Protection Agency strictly regulates the purification of tap water before it reaches people’s homes - it’s crucial for their safety. Due to these regulatory actions, American drinking water overall is some of the safest in the world, even in spite of some high-profile failures.
The World Health Organization classifies drinking contaminated drinking water as one of the most dangerous preventable health risks for humanity worldwide. In fact, they warn specifically that “contaminated water can transmit diseases such diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio.”
In case the WHO hasn’t convinced you to at least be skeptical of raw water, one of the most prominent boosters quoted in The New York Times’ article is Doug Evans, previously best known for peddling a $700 Wi-Fi-enabled juice machine that essentially does nothing.
So, yeah, drinking “raw water” is not great. It’s literally putting people’s lives in danger, making it one of the absolute worst ways to stay hydrated.
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