The controversy started with a New York Times article, as so many cultural chasms these day do. The spring water—which is untreated, unfiltered, and unsterilized—is being sold by discerning urban grocers for $36.99 for 2.5 gallons. There are several brands, including Live Water in Oregon and Tourmaline Spring in Maine, which package, market, and transport what otherwise costs “just a penny per gallon” to buy.
Raw water’s proponents—who include Doug Evans, founder of the new-defunct and disgraced company Juicero, a red flag if ever I heard one—argue that the water we drink is “dead,” stripped of the probiotics that make it nourishing. Live Water’s founder, Mukhande Singh, even expressed to the Times that fluoride, which has been added to the water supply since the 1950s, is a mind control drug.
So first, let’s get the facts out of the way. The fact-checking website Snopes noted the raft of claims about Live Water’s benefits, which echo that of other raw water companies, “are based on wholesale misreadings of scientific papers and principles that, even if interpreted correctly, would offer no relevance to—let alone proof of—raw water’s probiotic potential.”
More worrisome: Even if the claims did have merit, the risks associated with drinking untreated water are of the rather serious variety. Think cholera, E. coli, hepatitis, parasites, and giardia and you’ve got the right idea. Indeed, though the microbiome may be an promising field of health study, it strikes me that improving one’s gut health at the risk of contracting cholera is not a sensible trade-off.