Wednesday, May 26, 2010

world drinking cup

Don't drink the water.

It was probably myth #3 I heard from almost everyone when I headed south to Mexico.

Drink only bottled water.  Use water with iodine to wash all foods.

Of course, there were naysayers.  Expatriates who had lived in Mexico for years, who drank straight from the tap, and never washed their vegetables and fruits.  If asked, I am certain they would say they never washed their hands.  Just to prove their point.

You may have noticed the term "myth" in that second sentence.  I am using it in its narrative sense: a tale that embodies a Truth.

The Truth is that people in Mexico use bottled water in the same manner that some older women use Lavender and rose water.  Lots.

Here are the numbers.  An average Mexican consumes 234 liters of bottled water each year.  (For those of you who are metrically challenged, that is about 62 gallons.)  Making it the top per capita user in the world.  Mexico consumes 13% of the world's bottled water supply.

That is World Cup drinking.

There are two reasons why Mexicans drink that much bottled water. 

The first is the most obvious.  Almost all Mexican homes have running water.  The problem is the infrastructure for bringing that water to homes is faulty.  As a result, most of the water has been exposed to various forms of pollutants.  Some that can cause worse results than an upset stomach.

Interestingly, the government claims 85% of processed water in municipalities is potable.  Mexicans do not believe it.  Considering some of the misinformation they hear from their politicians, not drinking the water is a mild political protest.

Several Mexican bloggers have pointed out that open streams of water in their communities often turn into running cesspools.  I recognize the syndrome.  In the mid-1950s I saw a lot of the same activity in southern Oregon.

The second reason is becoming more common.  Some areas of Mexico, with potable tap water, simply do not have an adequate supply of water to meet a household's daily needs.  It is a sad commentary that many middle class families in Mexico City fall into that category.

Bottled water tends to be a fad in The States.  In Mexico, it is a matter of survival.

More than one writer has noted that Mexico appears to be where America was fifty or sixty years ago.  Pollution and litter seem to fall into that category.

The problem is that litter and pollution tend to come together when bottled water is discussed.  All of those little plastic containers are beginning to show up across Mexico -- as if the eagle and cactus was to be replaced by a bottle on sparkling water.

It took time for people north of the border to deal with their national pollution and litter issues.  Mexico will need some time to get to the same point.

And there are some hopeful signs.  The young people in my village regularly put together litter teams to clean up the beaches and the streets.

Unfortunately, they cannot clean up the water.  That task is governmental.

And I will drink the water.  As soon as I know I can.


Calypso said...

If you drink the tap water in the U.S. you are at great risk health wise amigo - I wouldn't trust the processed drinking water any where.

Even the Ciel water we buy here goes through at least 24 hours of ozination in our house before use.

I should add that I haven't been any kind of sick for years - maybe a cold 5 or 6 years ago?

And I don't take ANY medications to control my blood pressure or whatever.

Maybe there is something to being a vegetarian and using caution about the drinking water?

We are in times where taking personal responsibility for one's health is critical for long term survival - get some reports on the tap water you drink - you might be VERY surprised.

Anonymous said...

Steve,maybe you can do your research on plastic containers that hold our bottled water. That should make for an interesting report.

Brenda said...

I second Calypso on not drinking the water in the USA either. Lots of junk in it.
I don't drink the tap water here either though. On the other hand we don't use the wash solution for our veggies either. I once read a report that out of plain water, chlorine wash and Microdyne, the microdyne was no more effective than plain water.
If the stuff is going to be cooked I wash it in tap water and then cook it. No problems so far. If it is stuff to be eaten raw like for a salad I then wash it with bottled water. No big soaking process, etc..
I believe that if pesticides, pollutants, etc. are sprayed onto and are in the airground where your veggies/food is grown it is absorbed into the product as it grows and no amount of washing is going to remove it. You are only removing surface stuff when you wash, the rest you eat regardless of what you do. So wash off the dirt, etc. and get on with life.
I have to say that we haven't had the dreaded tummy problems that seem to plague most tourists. I am beginning to think that a lot of the tourist tummy troubles come from over indulging in drinking as well as eating and too much sun. Just a thought.

Calypso said...

I'm with Brenda on the washing of veggies and fruit here in Xico - w just rinse with tap water - no problems.

norm said...

Anywhere that they dump raw sewage into the river and then water the truck farm crops with the same river water is going to have problems with dirty vegetables on the dinner plate.

Nancy said...

I wash all fruits and vegies but more because I love having a fridge full of clean produce all the time. I used to come home from the store and just shove it in the crisper and whenever I needed to use something it needed to be washed!

We drink bottled water but say NO to all the little ones. We fill our own bottles at home when we need water to go.

Katie said...

We are fortunate to live in a place that has abundant, safe drinking water. We just fill our water bottles from the tap and don't give it a second thought. We are grateful for this gift of water.

Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- One of the advantages of living in Oregon is access to very good water -- even our urban water. Unfortunately, even our water is beginning to deteriorate.

Anonymous -- As you are aware, there have been a few hysteria announcements about plastic water continers. The proverbial salt pinch often comes in handy.

Brenda -- I still wash my vegetables and fruit with treated water. I have seen the same comments about the iodine solution. But I use it. I may just revert to washing them off with tap water.

Norm -- I think that may be most of the world.

Nancy -- I follow the same technique -- washing items when they come into the house. That cuts out the waiting time when I prepare dinner. And you are correct about the individual water bottles. I do not buy them. The few empties I have, I fill with bottled water.

Katie -- Wherever you live, you are very lucky. Clean water is a rarity.

Tancho said...

We have been fortunate in getting our water directly from the spring before the town gets their water. I use to ozoneate my water years ago and then discovered that the ozonator failed years ago, so we have been drinking natural water. In California we were fortunate to have our own well and had great water without any processing. I am in the process of rebuilding our storage facilities since my desire is to have sufficient water to carry us for at least 60 days. Without water, life would be impossible, and it will be the next "situation" which will cause great distress for many. Water from the Great North West has always been stellar but in Mexico there are sources that are as pure....humans kind of screw that up because of the lack of education. Too bad the popularity of the bottle plastic water, which I think have created a worse environmental situation than it solved.

Jonna said...

I'm going to pile on and say that I also would not and did not drink tap water in the US. I think you are dreaming if you think it is as safe as #1) it used to be in the 1950s or #2) as they 'say' it is.

We had filters and such at our house in Calif and in our RV where we lived for 6 years. We filtered the water in the US in the summer exactly as we did the water in MX in the winter. It kept us healthy in both places.

Calypso said...

Yes to what Jonna said - I lived in Oregon for 17 years. I shared an office with a water treatment guy for a spell there. I started getting into water analysis with him - then I went to work for a health food company in Klamath Falls Oregon for 5 years - there we sent lots of Oregon water samples to The Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts - amigo you DO NOT want to drink the water up there or anywhere in the U.S. UNLESS you are personally getting it out of the ground AND have had it tested extensively - really. This is not a conspiracy theory rather a simple fact. DON'T DRINK THE WATER in North America ;-)

You decide what heavy metals and minerals you want to supplement your body with (or not) - don't let that tap water infuse you with what may be in it.


Anonymous said...

I'm a big tap water drinker here in Boston, though I run it through a Brita filter first. But I've seen where the city water comes from (a very beautiful, perfectly clear reservoir in Western Mass), and it looks pretty good.

But in Mexico, while I dare to brush my teeth with tap water, I always drink bottled water. And this makes me feel like an environmental menace, as Mexicans don't seem to be all that big on recycling.

If I lived there, I'd probably buy the big 5-gallon bottles, and re-use them.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where the city has a great curbside recycling program.

Steve Cotton said...

Tancho -- I like our tap water here, but I may start taking a closer look at it.

Jonna and Calypso -- Point well taken.

Kim -- The big bottles are recycled at my house. And I keep a stash of smaller bottles to fill from the big ones. The only time I buy small bottles of wayer is when I feekl the need for agua mineral.