Last year, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Doug Evans brought us the Juicero machine, a $400 gadget designed solely to squeeze eight ounces of liquid from proprietary bags of fruits and vegetables, which went for $5 to $8 apiece. Though the cold-pressed juice company initially wrung millions from investors, its profits ran dry last fall after journalists at Bloomberg revealed that the pricy pouch-pressing machine was, in fact, unnecessary. The journalists simply squeezed juice out of the bags by hand.
But this didn’t crush Evans. He immediately plunged into a new—and yet somehow even more dubious—beverage trend: “raw” water.
The term refers to unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized water collected from natural springs. In the ten days following Juicero’s collapse, Evans underwent a cleanse, drinking only raw water from a company called Live Water, according to The New York Times. “I haven’t tasted tap water in a long time,” he told the Times. And Evans isn’t alone; he’s a prominent member of a growing movement to “get off the water grid,” the paper reports.Other benefits: cholera, typhoid fever, E.coli.
Members are taking up the unrefined drink due to both concern for the quality of tap water and the perceived benefits of drinking water in a natural state. Raw water enthusiasts are wary of the potential for contaminants in municipal water, such as traces of unfilterable pharmaceuticals and lead from plumbing. Some are concerned by harmless additives in tap water, such as disinfectants and fluoride, which effectively reduces tooth decay. Moreover, many believe that drinking “living” water that’s organically laden with minerals, bacteria, and other “natural” compounds has health benefits, such as boosting “energy” and “peacefulness.”
Natural water sources are vulnerable to all manner of natural pathogens. These include any bacteria, viruses, and parasites normally found in water or shed from nearby flora and fauna, such as Legionella and Giardia lamblia. They also can easily pick up environmental contaminants and naturally occurring hazards such as radiation from certain mineral deposits. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA has set standards and regulations for 90 different contaminants in tap water, including microorganisms, disinfectants, and radionuclides. And for bottled water, the Food and Drug Administration has set standards and can inspect bottling facilities. But such assurances aren’t in place for scouted spring water.Drink up, bros.
For its part, Live Water posted on its website a water quality report from an analysis conducted in 2015. The analysis looked at many contaminants but doesn’t appear to cover everything that the EPA monitors. For instance, there’s no mention of testing for pathogens such as Legionella and Giardia.