Two years ago, InfoWars founder Alex Jones had a now-infamous meltdown over an alleged ‘gay bomb’ that was being unleashed on the American population. “What do you think tap water is? It’s a gay bomb, bay” he shouted, eyes bulging. “I DON’T LIKE THEM PUTTING CHEMICALS IN THE WATER THAT TURN THE FREAKING FROGS GAY! DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?”
No, not particularly, Alex. But what seemed crazy coming from a furious, desk-punching conspiracy theory pundit is apparently a completely acceptable argument when it’s being promoted by a walking man bun in Silicon Valley.
According to a must-read New York Times report, a hot new trend in some parts of California is ‘raw water,’ as in water that hasn’t been filtered, treated, or sterilized in any way. It’s bottled directly from natural water sources, which raw water adopters say gives the water a better “mouth feel,” makes it (inexplicably) more hydrating, and allows the quote-unquote natural probiotics found in water to flourish. Scientists are less encouraging, suggesting that the only thing you’ll get from raw water is diarrhea. (And loose stools are the best case here).
One of the startups pushing the risk of cholera by the glass is Live Water, whose 2.5-gallon bottles of raw water sell for $36.99 each (Although Business Insider says that in the days since the Times piece ran, the price has increased to $60.99 per jug). “Tap water? You’re drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them,” Live Water founder Mukhande Singh told the Times. “Chloramine, and on top of that they’re putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.”
Well, we wouldn’t call him not a conspiracy theorist. Singh, who was born Christopher Sanborn, says that his water will stay fresh for “one lunar cycle” before it turns green, because it’s not the “dead water” that we’re used to. In a surreal marketing video for Live Water, he makes a series of impossible claims about his forest water, including that it gave his neighbor the ability to breastfeed her child again.
“The first time I drank fresh, living spring water, a surge of energy and peacefulness entered my being,” Singh said in the video. (Science suggests maybe that was animal shit.) In a guide for backpackers and travelers who might drink from untreated water sources, the Center for Disease Control warns that unless water is boiled for at least one minute, it could contain fecal-borne protozoa, bacteria, and viruses, including hepatitis, meningitis and giardia.
Unless you’re an underprepared through-hiker, there aren’t many good reasons to drink from a stream that probably contains more than one possum carcass. In most cases, tap water and bottled water are fine, and they’re a highly regulated kind of fine; Ars Technica explains that, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA has standards for 90 different microorganisms, disinfectants, and other contaminants that could be found in tap water. In addition, the FDA has its own standards for bottled water and can physically inspect bottling facilities. Meanwhile, Live Water is delivered by a dude with a sparse beard who regulates his own “carbon neutral delivery system.”
“There is a hidden beauty in our forgetfulness,” a robotic voice says in Live Water’s video. Unfortunately the company seems to have forgotten about dysentery. “The diseases [in untreated water] that killed our grandparents were completely forgotten about,” food-safety expert Bill Marler told Business Insider. “It's fine till some 10-year-old girl dies a horrible death from cholera in Montecito, California.”
Good luck, Mukhande. Hopefully you have plenty of raw toilet paper on hand.