As trends continue to burn away with the light of a new year, there is one that may only be getting stronger — and it’s taken many Californians by storm.
Silicon Valley has developed an obsession with “raw water,” according to Business Insider, where “unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water” is sold for a steep $61.
A 2.5-gallon jug of water, once sold for $37, has skyrocketed over the last week to a whopping $61 — a price difference stores such as Rainbow Grocery have deemed is a slight increase.
While the price includes the glass container that holds the unfiltered liquid, a refill still costs $15.
Even with the hefty price tag, many from the San Francisco region can’t get enough of it, with numerous startups such as Live Water selling to the unfiltered liquid to eager customers.
Companies in the nation’s top technology district, such as Zero Mass Water, have raised nearly $24 million in venture capital by selling tech that allows customers to collect water from the atmosphere near their homes.
Though health experts warn of the new craze that hasn’t been backed by science, many customers and sellers remain confident in the unfiltered product.
“It has a vaguely mild sweetness, a nice smooth mouth feel, nothing that overwhelms the flavor profile,” Kevin Freeman, a shift manager at Rainbow Grocery, told The New York Times.
“Bottled water’s controversial,” he added. “We’ve curtailed our water selection. But this is totally outside that whole realm.”
Freeman and others along the West Coast have opted to “get off the water grid,” according to The Times, citing concerns with the way conventional water is filtered (normally using fluoride) and the way it is often transferred through lead pipes.
Even bottled spring water is normally treated with ozone gas or ultraviolet light, passing through numerous filters in order to remove algae — a process some claim kill healthful bacteria and leave it “dead.”
Mukhande Singh, the founder of Live Water, told The Times that the water from his startup expires within a few months, which is a result that is normal for “real water,” he claims.
“It stays most fresh within one lunar cycle of delivery,” Singh stated. “If it sits around too long, it’ll turn green. People don’t even realize that because all their water’s dead, so they never see it turn green.”
“Tap water? You’re drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them,” Singh said. “Chloramine, and on top of that they’re putting in fluoride.”
In a recent video, Singh can be seen showing viewers a spring full of raw water that he found “on the side of the road,” adding that according to a smartphone app, the water was “super clear and clean.”
Yet, many food safety experts don’t hold the same view as Singh, arguing that there has been zero evidence that proves untreated water is better, but rather, could be potentially fatal.
“Almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can be found in water,” Bill Marler, a food and safety advocate and lawyer, told Business Insider.
Possible bacteria in unfiltered water stems anywhere from E. coli and viruses, to parasites and even carcinogenic compounds, all of which can be transferred to the person consuming it.
Marler argues that, while scientific evidence is lacking, many consumers of raw water are convinced they are correct in doing so, due in part to the fact that they haven’t seen the “repercussions” of a life without modern-day scientific advances.
“The diseases that killed our great-grandparents were completely forgotten about,” he said. “It’s fine till some 10-year-old girl dies a horrible death from cholera in Montecito, California.”
And health experts will continue to warn of its possible side-effects even as more people jump onto the possibly dangerous trend.
“You can’t stop consenting adults from being stupid,” Marler added. “But we should at least try.”
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