Is Water Food?
Many are certain that it is not because it does not have the same essential nutrients as food, while other maintain that it is. Is water food? We say it is — food for the soul.
Is water food? There is a debate; many certain that it is not because it does not embody biotics or nutrients essential to food; others maintaining it is, so labeled, regardless. Water, is of course, essential to human health, to the hydration of our physical, hence psychological systems, without which in certain amounts we cannot survive.
Is water food? Of course, it is, food for the soul.
We study and govern water as a singular entity; we have eminent scholars and centers for water research; we have national departments and international agencies that address water only as fresh, separate from salt, drawing an administrative limit at the salt line; we have conferences on water where the word “ocean” is never mentioned as if that is another, disconnected system, another responsibility without relation.
The freshwater/ocean continuum is undeniable. The water cycle represents the penultimate system of distribution for a resource that nurtures us from the mountain-top to the abyssal plain. That continuum determines climate, circulates pollutants and poisons, and connects the world in myriad ways to affect our health, energy, exchange, governance, community, and cultural traditions. We are mostly water, every one of us. We are a water planet, some 70% of which by area or volume contains the elements by which we live.
Water cleans our waste. Water enables manufacture. Water irrigates our fields. Water is so precious that any drop poisoned or sacrificed to irrelevant consumption or other less compelling needs is a crime against our bodies, against humanity. The commodification of water is anathema. To privatize its value is an affront to equity, justice, and civilization. Water must be a universal right, accessible to all, profitable for everyone.
If water itself has no nutrient value, then what it carries most certainly does. Water distributes food everywhere, from the skies, across vast ocean space, up and down the water column to feed marine species in every form. Water carries seed, plankton, and upland deposits through steams and lakes to great rivers to empty into coastal and deep sea habitat. Water feeds us through the senses, through touch and sound; water cools our bodies and quiets our minds; water heals as a symbol and system of belief and redemption. What is more pure and clear and essential than a sip of cool water, of hot water, when, for whatever reason, we are thirsty for calm, for healing.
Is water food?
Water is the penultimate net-zero standard. Water is the primary goal for sustainable development. Water is the tool for bio-regional planning. Water is the true source for value and service in a global economy.
We live in a hydraulic society, enabled by water in every aspect of our lives, and to be indifferent to that fact and to ignore it as an organizing principle on which to base transformation and regeneration is to choose to starve, to die from indifference, ignorance, and fear of change. To manage growth, to assert a new paradigm to conserve and sustain Nature for ensuing generations, we must start with water as our first principle against which every initiative, invention, and action taken must be first measured. Water is the unifying principle for prosperity. Water is the medium in which we will culture food, medicine, and art. Water is a process for integration and collaboration. Water is the physical dynamic by which to shape our world. Water is power. Water is peace.
Water is food for thought.
PETER NEILL is founder and director of the World Ocean Observatory, a web-based place of exchange for information and educational services about the health of the world ocean. He is also host of World Ocean Radio, upon which this blog is inspired. World Ocean Radio celebrates 12 years this year, with more than 600 episodes produced to date.