Food & Drink

Artisanal Water Is Out of Control and Stupid

Artisanal Water
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Go to your local Whole Foods, or any other upper-to-middle-class marketplace, and stacked on those fluorescent-lit shelves is a variety of dumb, dumb water bottles. And we aren't taking about regular bottled water like Poland Spring. This is artisanal water, or bougie water as I like to call it: a category of H20 and H20-like substances that are branded, marketed, and shipped to cities and suburbs across America under the guise of being beneficial to your health and/or tasting better than the regular stuff. And they have positively exploded in popularity in the past half-decade. Remember Whole Foods' $6 Asparagus Watergate? This is the kind of nonsense we're talking about.

Some have added electrolytes, some have subtle flavoring, some are straight-up juice they call water for some reason, some have augmented PH levels, or added essences, or enhanced alkaline. Some are even just straight up branded as "artisanal water," in a shocking display of poor self-awareness. But yeah... they're all basically just water. And I cannot, will not, get behind this. 

This is a joke, right?

The video above is a joke, but the reality is not. I assure you, these waters are very much a thing. Find the nearest woman wearing Lululemon, she can confirm.  

Why should you care?

Because this is everything that is wrong with the food and drink world, wrapped into ergonomic, vibrant packaging. These waters, that I have split into three different categories below, promise health, good taste, and the chance at being in on the ground floor of the future of hydration. It's bunk at best, deceitful at worst. This, Mr. Trump, is why China is winning. 

Artisanal Water
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Category one: water, with a gimmick

One contains no flavors, but has "flower essences." The other is shipped from a melted glacier in Norway (or something), one is just water in a damn carton, and the other is... it doesn't really matter.

This is complicating water for complication's sake. They all taste exactly the same.

Artisanal Water
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Category two: flavored water, or juice that's called water for some reason

Coconut water is coconut water, so I'll allow it to exist while still being skeptical of the social fervor around it. Maple Water actually tastes like liquified pancakes, which is obviously OK with me. And "Wtrmln Wtr" tastes like like watermelon juice, which is exactly what it is. 

These items, despite the clumsy names, aren't even really that bad. They are the most acceptable kinds of bougie waters because everybody deserves a little flavor in their lives. (Haven't you ever seen How Stella Got Her Groove Back?) But they have no business being labeled as "water."

But then, I saw the artichoke water, called (**shudder**) Arty, and my whole theory crumbled before me.

Artisanal Water
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Category three: health water

This is water with electrolytes, or augmented PH levels... aka alkaline water. The logic here is that our modern, poor diets increase the acidity in our blood and overall body stuff, which can lead to some serious health complications. This is called Acidosis. The alkaline water is closer to the base end of the PH scale (remember Chem class?!), so it helps to regulate and neutralize acid levels, like a chill-out tent for your body. 

But the claims have never really been backedupbyscience, and usually, science knows what's up.

The electrolyte water is supposed to give you more energy and more efficient hydration for pick up basketball games and running from park rangers after snatching picnic baskets, I guess. I assume it's kind of like Gatorade, though I'm not sure if Gatorade helps you with exercising, because like everyone else, I only drink it when I'm hungover. 

Artisanal Water
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Once we start pimping out our water... what else is left?

Water is a basic element that we need to survive.  Some inherently beautiful and life-giving things -- like water, air, and the Godfather Parts I and II -- are best left untampered with. These health fads shine bright, get some media attention, then burn out quicker than Fredo and Michael's relationship (sorry for the 30-year-old spoiler...). Think of bone broth. Wearing vitality bracelets. Putting kale into everything. Taking gluten out of everything. Or any of these diets. This whole genre is vaguely based on some pseudo-science, but is driven more out of marketing and people's need to latch onto trends, than any substantial fact. The fact is, we just end up spending our money on things we'll forget about in four months. 

To give some perspective, realize that right now, in our own country, our Golden State is dealing with a drought of unprecedented measure. So here's a solution: let's buy all these artisanal waters, ship them to Cali, and let them serve a nobler purposes by watering Kris Jenner's gardenias or washing out some dude from Fresno's hindquarters. Or better yet, let's care less about augmenting the PH levels of our H20 and care more about people who don't have any water to drink in the first place.

If we all keep blindly buying into these unnecessary, misleading waters what else are we capable of? A Donald Trump mosaic made of 500 dick pics?

Oh... wait. Actually, that's pretty cool. 

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. You should probably check your blood sugar after reading this. Follow him @wilfulton.