Prices of dangerous 'raw water' are skyrocketing as Silicon Valley's latest trend flies off the shelves

Melia Robinson/Business InsiderAn empty container in Rainbow Grocery, where the startup Live Water’s product is sold.
  • Silicon Valley’s latest obsession is untreated, unfiltered water.
  • One store selling “raw water” increased the price of 2.5 gallons to $US60.99 ($8 a litre) from $US36.99 after a New York Times article on the bizarre trend – and it’s still sold out.
  • The company behind the water says there has been a surge in demand.
  • Consuming untreated water can lead to infections such as cholera, Hepatitis A, and E. coli.

“Raw water” prices are skyrocketing after a New York Times article detailed Silicon Valley’s latest bizarre obsession.

In San Francisco, “unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water” is flying off the shelves.

The New York Times reported last week that Rainbow Grocery, a co-op in the city’s Mission District, was selling a 2.5-gallon jug of the product from the startup Live Water for $US36.99.

Raw water live water san francisco 2Melia Robinson/Business Insider

But when Business Insider’s Melia Robinson visited Rainbow Grocery on Tuesday, she found that the co-op was sold out of Live Water’s Fountain of Truth Spring Water – with a sign indicating a “slight price increase.”

Since The Times published the article, the price of Live Water had increased to $US60.99 from $US36.99.

Raw water live water san francisco 5Melia Robinson/Business InsiderRainbow Grocery is expecting a new shipment of Live Water on Thursday.

Live Water’s website also indicates a recent surge in demand.

“We’re Experiencing A Surge Of New Customers,” the website says. “First Water Delivery Might Take Longer Than Usual~ New Orders Will Be Delivered In The Order They Are Received.”

Startups dedicated to untreated water are popping up, with people – including the failed startup Juicero’s cofounder Doug Evans – gathering gallons of untreated water from natural springs. Evans told The Times that he and his friends brought 50 gallons of raw water to the Burning Man festival.

Food-safety experts, however, are sceptical.

“Almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can be found in water,” the food-safety advocate and attorney Bill Marler told Business Insider.

That includes bacteria and diseases such as cholera, E. coli, Hepatitis A, and giardiasis. Because filtered, treated water has become the norm, Marler says, most Americans perhaps don’t realise how dangerous raw water can be.

“The diseases that killed our great-grandparents were completely forgotten about,” he said, adding: “It’s fine till some 10-year-old girl dies a horrible death from cholera in Montecito, California.”

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