Why is it safe to eat veggies/fruits grown in rain/waste water, but not safe to drink the water by itself?

Water is life. It is a compound most abundant on the planet, essential to all living organisms, especially animals, humans, and plants.

Various sources of freshwater can be used in our daily activities. There are the vast ocean and seas, rivers, lakes, and even the water that fall from the atmosphere in the forms or rains. All this water can be filtered and processed to become potable and safe for human consumption.

The rainfalls supply water in most rivers, and lakes, and dams. The more extended period of drought and dry season causes a shortage of water supply, affecting the quality of life in general. Water costs will become higher and also goods that needed water in manufacturing. Without rain, water reservoirs will soon dry out, plants will wither and dry, some animals will become sick, and humans will also be in trouble.

Plants directly benefit from the raindrops and give them more water supply for better food production and survival. The autotroph nature of plants makes them obtain all the nutrients from their environment, and rainwater plays a vital role in this function.

According to Texas A&M University, rainwater is the most abundant and natural way for plants to obtain moisture because tap water often contains chemicals from treatment and recycled for human consumption. On the other hand, rainwater has a higher oxygen level and is free from harmful minerals and additives in tap water. (click here for more details)

Rainwater is an ideal water source for plants due to a few main reasons.

  • It is 100% soft water. Soft water means it is free from other substances such as salts, treatment chemicals, minerals, and pharmaceuticals. It is pure hydration. Watering your plants with water coming from your treated water tanks will cause salt and chemical build up in the soil, and over time the residues will be tough on plants.
  • Lower acidity. Plants are best grown on soil with pH levels between 5.5 and 6.5, which has a similar acidity level with the rainwater. This is slightly acidic on the neutral pH 7. However, this is better than the treated water that can have a pH level of 8.5 and above. The wastewater from laundry, sink, or shower is called greywater, will start with the same pH level as with the tap water but can be as high as 10.5 once it gets to the garden depending on the detergent and cleaning agents mixed in it. When the rain comes, it will be washed away and making the soil healthy for the plants.
  • Catch rainwater may contain organic matter. The rainwater that runs through your roof may pass through some traces of organic materials like a leaf, pollens, bird droppings, and the like, which can be useful as fertilizers to the plants.
  • Rainwater contains nitrates. Nitrate is the most bio-available nitrogen. It made up of nitrogen and oxygen that is formed naturally. It is a basic need for plants to grow and is present not only in the soil but also in the rain. (click here for more details)

Rainwater is undeniably offering a lot of benefits to plants, but how about to humans?

If you will ask if rain is safe for drinking, the answer is both Yes and No.

When you were kids, you probably have experienced enjoying playing under the strong pour of the rain, and you might have even tasted some of it when you open your mouth and face the sky. Those were the fun-filled days of childhood!

If your water source is not underground as where the wells get its water, most dams and city water catch rain and process to make it safe for consumption. With water purification tablets, filtration, and boiling, rainwater becomes safe for cooking, washing, and drinking.

However, as the raindrops fall to the earth, they pass through the atmosphere and pick up some contaminants, so it’s not as pure as you might think. And acid rain often occurs after volcanic eruptions or when excessive amounts of sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxide are present in the air from fossil fuel combustion, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The acidic rainwater will be harmful to plant and not safe for human drinking. (click here for more details)

Don’t worry when eating fruits and vegetables watered by rain because they have their filtration process of the water and all other nutrients they consume. Enjoy backyard grown tomatoes, beans, and cauliflowers because they too are enjoying and loving the rains!