The raw, the pod and the daring

If you’ve ever been on a canoe trip, a rafting trip or a whitewater 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.

So you can imagine my surprise to read that some wealthy Silicon Valley types are happily paying $60 for 21/2 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, Mich., would be high on that list – but failures such as 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 21/2 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 recently 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 youth take to eating laundry detergent pods on camera, then posting a video of it 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.

2018 United Feature Syndicate

Distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication for UFS

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