The raw, the pod and the dar­ing

The Oklahoman - - LIFE & STYLE - Con­tact Jim Mullen at mullen. jim@gmail.com. BY JIM MULLEN

If you’ve ever been on a ca­noe trip, a raft­ing trip or a white wa­ter ad­ven­ture, you know the out­fit­ters will never let you drink un­treated river wa­ter. They’re not do­ing that be­cause river wa­ter tastes bad; they’re do­ing it be­cause they know that rivers are na­ture’s toi­let.

And worse. I re­mem­ber float­ing down the Mis­souri River in a ca­noe when the bloated body of dead rac­coon floated past me. My dreams of drink­ing “pure stream wa­ter” were not just dashed, they were sat on and squashed. After that, I didn’t have any in­ter­est in drink­ing river wa­ter, even if it had been fil­tered, dis­tilled and re­con­sti­tuted.

So you can imag­ine my sur­prise to read that some wealthy Sil­i­con Val­ley types are hap­pily pay­ing $60 for 2 ½ gal­lons of “raw wa­ter” — that is, un­treated wa­ter straight from ... some­where. It hasn’t been flu­o­ri­dated, it hasn’t been fil­tered, it hasn’t been treated with UV light to kill par­a­sites and germs. It may be free of all those things, any­way, but how would you know?

Oh, sure, tap wa­ter may have its prob­lems — Flint, Michi­gan, would be high on that list — but fail­ures like Flint are the ex­cep­tion. In most places in North Amer­ica, the tap wa­ter is as good as the bot­tled wa­ter you find at the gro­cery store. Ru­mor is, some bot­tled wa­ter is just tap wa­ter.

And there is no ev­i­dence that the tap wa­ter in Sil­i­con Val­ley has any health haz­ards. Ap­par­ently its big­gest prob­lem is that it’s just com­mon­place. What wealthy per­son wants to drink the same wa­ter as you and me? And this, more than health, is prob­a­bly the ap­peal of “raw wa­ter.” If it costs $60 for 2 ½ gal­lons, why, it MUST be good! And isn’t that the mes­sage that’s re­ally be­ing sent? That “we’re so rich, we can just throw our money away”?

If you’ve ever lived through some kind of dis­as­ter like a hur­ri­cane, a tor­nado or an earth­quake, al­most the first piece of ad­vice you’ll hear from the ex­perts is to boil your wa­ter be­fore you drink it. That’s be­cause wa­ter from a com­pro­mised sys­tem is full of germs that can make you ill, and some­times kill you. That’s the kind of risk you take drink­ing “raw” wa­ter. Peo­ple in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries wouldn’t fall for this scam; it is only the ac­ci­den­tally wealthy who can af­ford to be this reck­less.

Food fads are not un­com­mon; they hap­pen all the time. One mak­ing the rounds this week is so dis­gust­ing that it must have been con­ceived by a pub­lic­ity-seek­ing con­cep­tual artist: In­stead of chop­ping up onions and car­rots with a knife, the (ru­mored) new thing is to chew them up and then spit them into what­ever you’re mak­ing. Yummy! I’d give this a 9.5 on the Re­volt-o-Me­ter. As un­likely as it is to be a real thing, I’m sure some peo­ple will read about it and think it sounds like a swell idea.

An­other fad go­ing around is teenagers tak­ing the “Tide Pod Chal­lenge,” in which the brain mat­ter chal­lenged youths take to eat­ing laun­dry de­ter­gent pods on cam­era, then post­ing the video of it on Stupid chat or Dum­bBook to prove that they did it.

Their par­ents must be so proud. I can hear them now:

“We never thought Ju­nior would amount to any­thing, but then along came the Tide Pod Chal­lenge. Our lit­tle boy ate more of them than any­one! And he had the courage to wash them down with Raw Wa­ter. If that doesn’t get him a free ride to Har­vard or Yale, we just don’t know what will.”

The ex­cuse kids give for do­ing this is al­ways, “Some­one dared me to.” Well, then you HAVE to do it. Let’s try this, then: I dou­ble-dare you NOT to eat de­ter­gent pods. Let’s see who’s got the courage to take on that chal­lenge.

Of course, eat­ing de­ter­gent pods can’t re­ally be called a food fad, but it does give me an idea of how to get chil­dren to eat foods they don’t think they’ll like: Dare them to eat their veg­eta­bles.

[THINKSTOCK IM­AGE]

Raw wa­ter, like that from a river, isn’t re­ally for drink­ing, colum­nist says.

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