Monday, January 20, 2014
wholefood step-by-step: #3 filtered water
Fourteen years ago when I was starting out as a food writer I met with the owner of an organic foodstore in Melbourne, she talked me through the housemade soups and take home dinners prepared in their store, "We had a water filter installed into the plumbing" she explained, "there's no point cooking with organic ingredients if you're not going to use filtered water when making soup and stock and so on." I have to admit, until that moment I hadn't given the composition of tap water too much thought.
Fast forward to my tiny kitchen today and our Nikken pi mag water filter takes pride of place on our limited bench space (my tiny kitchen tour coming soon). Before we made the $400+ investment in this filter system we used to have a Brita jug with a replaceable carbon filter which worked well and is certainly a cheaper option. We decided to upgrade after a trip staying with our friend in Byron Bay who has a Nikken and we loved the clean taste of the water so much.
After almost a decade of drinking filtered water at home I have become very sensitive to the taste and smell of chlorine in non-filtered water. When I go out I miss my water filter! You can see in the photograph at the very top there is a coppery brown colour on the filter. That filter starts out as white and over about a 3-4 weeks it gets browner until the water is filtering through so slowly I wipe the filter clean with a cloth. I think part of the reason for this is that we live in an old house with the original plumbing, filtering the water gives me piece of mind that the water is as clean as possible, plus it filters out the smell and taste of chlorine.
Why drink filtered water?
Given that just about every single process that happens in our body takes place in water it makes sense to ensure that the water we drink is as pure and free from chemical contaminants as possible.
Flouride and chlorine are added to our water supply here in Australia. The chlorine is added to ensure that bugs do not survive in the water - this is a good thing! - but how much chlorine is safe and the long term effects are up for debate. Flouride has been added to the water since the 1960's originally to minimise tooth decay, today most toothpaste contains flouride so there is some belief that we may now be getting too much flouride.
This detailed report on water filters and contaminants by Choice magazine provides a good explanation of reasons to get a water filter and the different kinds of filters available.
If you have your own water supply such as tank or bore water it is imperative to have your supply regularly checked for contaminants, you probably already knew that though right! I made myself nicely sick drinking contaminated tank water when I was pregnant with River, frightening and not fun at all.
What about bottled water?
The main reason to steer clear of water sold in plastic bottles is the environmental problems associated with producing and transporting bottled water as well as disposing of the plastic bottles. You can read a list of convincing reasons not to buy bottled water here.
And then there is the issue of plastic leaching into the water. There are various types of plastic used to make single use and reusable drinking bottles. Unless it is a matter of dehydration I'd say steer clear of single use bottles and instead buy a reusable stainless steel, glass or BPA free bottle and don't leave home without it.
My main reason for writing about water today is to reinforce the importance of drinking the stuff! Filtered is definitely my preference but even if you decide buying a water filter has to wait a while on the priority list, if you do one thing for yourself and your family this year it would be to quit soft drink, prepackaged juices, flavoured milks and switch to drinking a good amount of water each day. The amount will vary depending on age, activity level and climate you are in but the general guide is 2 litres per day for adults and for children aged 5-8 1 litre, aged 9-12 1.5 litres and aged 13+ 2 litres.
Squeezing a splash of fresh lemon or orange juice can make the water more appealing if you are not used to drinking much and the citrus also aids absorption. One of the best ways to ways to kickstart your daily water intake is with a glass of warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning before breakfast or tea or coffee, the lemon water is cleansing for your liver and means you start the day hydrated. Another easy step!
Do you have a water filter to recommend? Or a favorite reusable water bottle? Tell us in the comments.