[a medicinal cooking blog: using food as medicine to treat whatever may ail you]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What Water Tastes Like

I love water but I don't think about it enough. I don't spend time tasting it though I remember the specific moments when it actually tastes delicious or tastes bad. In between the delicious and the bad there is a lot of murkiness. Two thirds of our bodies are composed of water. We need water to survive and therefore there is no reason that we shouldn't consider water much like any other food substance and strive to get the best that we can. However, finding quality water seems quite difficult as I've been learning. Previously untouched water reservoirs are being polluted, recycled water has unappetizing residues and dangerous additions, and the lovely layer of pollution surrounding our atmosphere isn't doing much for our rain and snow water. It all sounds so dire when you start to really dig into the water world. One in three people in the world is affected by water scarcity according to the World Health Organization. If that is true how can we get up in arms that we aren't getting the best tasting water when we should be lucky to get any at all you might ask? The old adage of "If you don't ask, you don't get" might be the relevant answer here. I've been thinking about this because I didn't want to write an end of the world posting on water where you are left thinking only sad thoughts with nothing to remedy the situation. I also believe once you strive to find good water you will treat the water you use (for showers, cooking, etc) more gently and carefully.

For the purposes of this blog, I'll suffice it to say water is important in healing and therefore if you are in need of that or you just simply want to access better water then there are ways to go about it. When you go buy water in the store or you drink from your Brita filtered water at home there are many different sources for this water. Rain water tastes light; well water tastes mineralized; river, lake, and spring water takes on the taste of where it travels through. Well water can be dangerous in that if it resides close to livestock or agriculture it can get runoff from fertilizers and animal excrement. A lot of city water is recycled and has passed through sewers and therefore is chlorinated - many people will let it sit for 30 minutes before drinking it so that the chlorine will evaporate. In the U.S. they still practice fluoridation (sodium fluoride versus the calcium fluoride you use in dental practice) of the water supply, though in much of Europe it has become illegal and controversial as sodium fluoride can be as detrimental as it is supposedly beneficial. You can remove sodium fluoride from your water by stirring in one teaspoon of calcium powder per gallon, let any sediment settle to the bottom and use the water from on top.

So how do you make the water you have at home taste good as well as be safe if you don't have access to some goddess spring of clean heavenly water direct to your tap or bottled water? One of my "ooo that tastes good" water moments was when I tried some water infused with a loose piece of charcoal in China, only to forget the details until a friend in NYC called me up and said she had just had the best tasting water and it was also this loose charcoal! Hallelujah I wasn't going to let that tidbit disappear again. Apparently this particular (white) charcoal filters water as well as infuses it with minerals. Charcoal has many uses in general beyond water filtration, an example being activated black charcoal tablets (made from heating coconut shells in the absence of air) for treating digestive issues and in preventing certain poisons from being absorbed in your stomach. Most of the filtered water systems use black charcoal made from coconut husks, but the white charcoal which you place loose in your water is another type of charcoal entirely. I found a pretty decent store online that sells the Japanese made white charcoal water filters which are referred to as binchotan. You should be able to find these in Korean and Japanese stores as well or a variety of other online stores. I like the Binchotan version of charcoal filtering because beyond the filtering and beneficial mineral additions, you can place it directly in your water (if you choose to pre-filter it you can as well), and then you can toss the charcoal after 3 months of use instead of throwing out some black charcoal in a plastic filter, and avoid contributing to more waste.

Article just in on Fiji bottled water (8.20.2009)

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