What is Raw Water? Why Is It So Popular? Is It Safe?
Raw Water sounds like a Sylvester Stallone movie that was killed in development, but it’s actually something people have been drinking for centuries. Raw water as it turns out is not some exotic hybrid type of H20 enhanced with fancy pants vitamins and minerals; it's just water. If you've ever been hiking in the woods for extended periods of time you've drunk plenty of so-called "raw water” because it’s what goes into your canteen when you fill it up at a stream or brook. So why would it become a kind of health craze and is there anything about raw water that might make it unsafe?
What is it really?
When you dip your canteen into the babbling brook on the mountainside, you come away with some of the sweetest, most refreshing water you've ever had. Maybe part of your enjoyment is simply driven by the surroundings, but there is also something about unfiltered, unadulterated H20 from the source that hits home. It's this experience of consuming something unsullied by human intervention that attracts so many people to raw water. But is it unsullied and is it actually safe to drink, never mind good for you?
Does “Raw Water” Mean It's Unsafe?
In a world where we're being systematically angled away from the real towards ‘virtual' reality, it's no wonder people are clamoring for natural, unadulterated eating, drinking and living experiences. One of the things that has caught the attention of many healthy lifestyle proponents is so-called raw water sourced from mountain or forest streams. The thought is that it must be better for us to drink this type of water like our ancestors did than to drink H20 that has been heavily filtered and processed with chlorine and fluoride.
The truth, however, is that although it may be sourced from a mountain stream, that doesn't mean it's good for you or even clean. Lots of the H20 drawn from ‘natural' sources is actually teeming with 100% natural viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can make you seriously ill. It may also be a kind of toxic stew of chemicals it pulled out of the air when it fell as rain. So simply believing that if it's raw, it must be good isn't an approach that's going to get you anywhere.
But What About Probiotics?
People marketing their ‘raw water’ products are fond of playing off of other people’s fears about contaminated tap water, or in some cases, “over filtered” water. They use buzz words like “probiotic” to draw in those trying to purge their diet of chemicals and other manmade additives. Or as a way to insinuate that the all-natural minerals you’ll get from unprocessed H20 are things you can’t get anywhere else. The success of the product is all the proof you need that marketing works. But is it worth investing in raw water just because it may provide you a few “all natural” minerals? Maybe not, say some experts. Mostly because you can get these same minerals from eating certain foods and the risks that also come with creek water may make this health craze a bit too risky.
People have developed a kind of default wariness when it comes to anything delivered by officialdom. If the H20 is provided by the city, it must just be another example of the man trying to keep us down somehow. Or, as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper put it so eloquently in Dr. Strangelove another example of the powers that be trying to "contaminate our precious bodily fluids." Because of this, they reach for anything that seems like a reasonable, all-natural alternative. For the longest time that has meant the bottled H20 you get in the supermarket or convenience store. But now, with increasing regularity, it means raw water.
The fact is however that the drinking water systems in most developed countries these days are incredibly safe and reliably so. In fact, there's a good chance that the processed, filtered H20 you'll get from the city with its chlorine and fluoride and other additives is often safer than anything you'll pull out of a mountain stream. Scoff if you like, but it's true. There is no difference between the molecules that come out of the tap and those that come out of a forest stream. Any difference is a matter of other things that might also be present. With city tap H20 you know you're not getting anything dangerous. With raw water, you basically have to hope that someone didn’t defecate upstream right before the bottler started working. If they did you’ll likely be dealing with giardiasis. A genuinely unpleasant affliction that comes from drinking H20 contaminated with feces.
The Good Old Days Weren’t Always Good
In the past, people drank water from streams because they had no choice. Over time the process has been romanticized in countless movies, books, and TV shows until it now seems like a no-brainer to reach for the raw water. What depictions of our ancestors drinking directly from all natural open sources have never shown, however, are the people who would drink from a stream and then have diarrhea and stomach cramps for a weak. Or those who would die from cholera they got drinking contaminated H20 from a babbling brook.
Today that same H20 is being heralded as a common sense, healthy lifestyle alternative to the "bad" stuff that comes out of the tap and has been filtered and processed until it is clear of the harmful components that could send you to the hospital. It's an impressive feat of upside-down logic alright. The raw water argument seems to depend almost exclusively on people not being aware of just how many health problems there used to be before filtering and treating H20 became the norm. The truth is if you've got five bucks to drop on a bottle of creek water you’re better off donating it to a charity that provides water purification systems to 3rd world countries.