Welcome to 2018, where some things never change. Selling snake oil to those with more money than sense is still a thing, and the newest “health” trend is already upon us.
According to the New York Times, a new “raw water” movement is springing up in the West Coast of America, particularly in affluent areas like Silicon Valley and San Francisco, in an attempt to “get off the water grid”.
We’re sure many of you are scratching your heads and wondering what on Earth “raw” water means, and, taking its literal meaning, why on Earth that would be a good thing. So, let us explain.
“Raw” water (yep, sticking to air quotes) is, according to Live Water – who sell 11-liter (2.5-gallon) bottles for a hefty $37 – unfiltered, unsterilized, untreated spring water, and this is a good thing because unfiltered water has some kind of loosely defined probiotic quality, filtering water removes beneficial minerals and tap water is poisoned by those in charge.
“Tap water? You’re drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them,” Mukhande Singh, founder of Live Water told the NY Times. “Chloramine, and on top of that they’re putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.”
You can see why people would want to drink what they see as natural and pure water. The danger of lead poisoning is real, as the Flint water crisis of 2016 showed us, and it created feelings of distrust towards publically supplied water. Though this is more an example of what happens when you try to cut corners as officials in the Michigan town decided to stop buying treated drinking water and treat the Flint River water themselves.
There’s also very little evidence that tap water is less safe than bottled water, after all they are both filtered, treated, and regulated. (And, FYI, fluoride is not a mind-control drug, only conspiracy theorists think that. It does, however, help prevent dental decay.)
Of course, untreated water carries all sorts of nasties too, and what the proponents of raw water see as dangers to our health are actually important safety measures that can be traced as far back as 1500 BCE when the ancient Egyptians clarified their water.
Treating water has been saving lives for hundreds of years. Public water utilities in the US started using chlorine to disinfect water in 1908, removing dangerous microbes and reducing deaths from diarrhea, typhoid, and cholera – all spread by contaminated water – to the extent that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called it “one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century”.
And if the complete lack of evidence that "raw" water is better than any other kind of water doesn't deter you from throwing your money at this get-rich-quick scheme, perhaps the fact it's supported by this guy will?