On Drinks

This entry was written exactly a year ago, it has somehow fell out of my mind. It’s still relevant hence I decided to publish it.

H2OLiving though the modern world, we are easily exposed to foreign cultures. A lot of these cultures are adopted, giving birth to subcultures. Some examples includes Brazilian jujitsu, ballet, pastas and noodles, bread and countless more. With international trade, Internet and establishment of multinational companies, accessing these cultures are easily accommodated. This convenience however can potentially ruin a natural balance or create unhealthy habits. There are a lot of examples, but today I’m going to choose drinking as a topic.

Drinks, like food, is a cultural identity. Prominent ones are alcohol, tea and coffee, which has been around for a couple centuries. Some newer drinks are popular due to the success of industrialization. Canned and bottled drinks such as colas, ready to drink coffee, tea and milk, decorate the mini marts and super markets. Indeed one of the impressive sights to see is the different brands trying to compete for your attention on the mini mart. It’s actually hard to bore your taste buds with so many flavored drinks. So why even bother with plain old water ?


One of the many health problems that people suffer (including me) is kidney stones. With flavored drinks, our kidney works a little bit extra. Plain water helps dilute the build-up of crystals in our kidney, it is also less taxing for the kidney to process. After all water is our natural drink. It is the same reason why water comes out from springs and fall from the sky.


During my college days I learned a bitter lesson on drinking cola drinks. I bought a carton of coke because it was on sale. I drank it almost everyday for a week because the weather was hot and it was readily available. That week I was literally peeing blood. I immediately stopped drinking anything besides water. Eventually it went back to normal and the doctor ultra sound my kidney to find that there was a scar on my kidney, but luckily the crystal went out on its own.


It was a dumb mistake which left me wondering how it could have happenned ? Now I’m a couple years wiser and I noticed that culture and globalization had some part on this. Drink industry, be it international or local, had been introducing new mass produced drinks year after year. These products, backed by a fat advertising budget and large distribution channel, can penetrate the market and population rapidly. In developing nations, new things especially of foreign origins are still highly regarded as “hip”, more civilized or fun. They are always advertised as fun, healthy and/or refreshing. In fact, most of the advertisements of bottled water nowadays focus on their CSR campaign or (are) just plain ambiguous.


Another contributing factor was the fact that drinking water is not actually free in developing nations. Drinking tap water here is a recipe for stomach ache. Plain water,although affordable, still compete with competitively priced drinks. Here a bottled cold tea costs only 1-2¢ more from bottled water. Cola drinks are also competitively priced to cost just 3-6¢ more from bottled water.


The way restaurants operate also promotes flavored drinks over water. Fast-food joints are notorious for offering package deals which includes a soft drink which at best you can switch it for iced tea but not water. Some coffee shops and restaurants are also known for only stocking premium bottled water, which can cost more than a coffee or soft drinks. In fact, a lot of restaurants offer free flow tea and coffee, but I have yet to see free flow water. In case you’re wondering, the culture of free water either faded out or didn’t exist in Indonesia. Ironically the only place to get free water is at international coffee chains such Starbucks or coffee bean which you might ask from the barista. The reason they can do this because it cost them nearly nothing to serve you with filtered water used to make your expensive coffee.


Naturalist movement, doctor recommendation and pep talk from the elders (which received pep talk from their doctors) has raised the awareness of the importance of drinking water. But as long as water competes with a vast selection of competitively priced flavored drinks, combined with the lack of endorsement from/by restaurants trying to make money from flavored drinks, the future of water becoming our main drink falters.


Edited by: A.F.K


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