Earlier this Spring, Organico Cafe in Bantry became the first cafe in Bantry to install a reverse-osmosis filter which removes all chemicals, heavy metals and bacteria from our water - including, of course, chlorine and the now infamous Fluoride. We also installed a filter in our Bakery so that all the food and beverages that we prepare are made with pure water.
This has caused a lot of interesting reactions. Many people have accepted it as another of our ‘improvements’ - like many small businesses that have grown ‘organically’ we are constantly making small changes and our customers are well used to this. Several people have started coming in more regularly for tea which tastes like tea should; i.e. not like it was brewed with water from a swimming pool! And it has caused some not-inconsiderable amount of media interest - from TV3, from Radio 1, and most recently from a nice Canadian Journalist who was very interested to learn about our reasons as the Great Fluoride debate also rages over in Canada.
Our reasons for going investing in filters were pretty simple really.
[learn_more caption="Click here to learn more"]As a business we are committed to using the very best of ingredients and methods of food production and it seems a shame to use the best ingredients and then use chemically contaminated water. We are also very concerned specifically about the policy of water fluoridation and wanted to make public our concern, and putting in an expensive filtration system to clean up the water that we already pay for should send a strong message about how concerned we really are.
I don’t intend to re-hash the health arguments for and against mandatory fluoridation in this article. However, I personally have never given my permission for my family to be given an unlicensed medication in our water. I think it’s very worrying that we all get varying doses of this medication depending on how much we eat or drink on any given day. It’s also hard to believe that babies on formula are being given such a massive dose (some countries warn parents against using fluoridated water for formula but strangely Ireland does not). I’m also concerned that there is no Irish Medicines Board licence for this medication. They are meant to issue a licence for every medication dispensed in Ireland, and I find the lack of a medical licence amazing considering the fact that we can’t sell simple herbal preparations now without a medical license!
Having decided to install filters we then joined up with 4 other businesses in Bantry who also installed the filters (The Fish Kitchen, The Mariner Bar, Wokabout and Trawl and Trend) and Bantry was declared the Ireland’s first “Fluoride Free Town”. Obviously, Bantry is sadly not fluoride free at all but it’s an aspiration and now businesses like ours are offering the option of having fluoride free food and beverages. A bit like setting up a Space Mission before you are actually able to go to space, we felt that by setting the goal of a Fluoride free town (which will then hopefully lead to a fluoride free County, and ultimately a fluoride free Country) we might raise enough awareness to help us to actually get there.
The Fluoride Free Towns Movement is a completely politically neutral, grassroots movement set up to raise awareness about the concerns over mass fluoridation. Anyone can either install a filter themselves or encourage their local cafe/bar/bakery to. And then if you have enough businesses on board you too can become part of the movement. From a business perspective it shows that we are willing to actually pay out to stand by our convictions. That we really do care about the quality of the water we are using to make our soups, coffees, teas, breads, stews and all the other food that uses water. I think this has sent a powerful message to the authorities - which has been proven by recent activity by Cork County Council.
On March 10th this year Cork County Council vote to abolish the practice of Mandatory Fluoridation in Ireland. The vote was unanimous and was passed despite pressures from on high to defer the vote until ‘more research’ was done. Unfortunately the Council do not actually have the power to abolish the practice in the County, but their unanimous vote shows that they have been feeling under pressure from their constituents to express concern about the practice in the only way they can. And immediately after the vote, perhaps so as not to seem to disregard public concern, the Government announced that they will set up an International Enquiry to look once more at Fluoridation.
A lot of people wonder why our Health Minister (and indeed all Irish Health Ministers since the first 1960s bill was passed) have insisted on sticking to the line that Fluoride is ‘Safe and Effective’ even though most other countries around the world have discontinued the practice and challenged both of those viewpoints. However, in a blog written by Navan Dental, a quote attributed to former TD Richie Ryan (who was Health Spokesman at the time of the first Dail Bill on Fluoridation) sheds some light on this. Ryan says of the Health Ministry:
‘They don’t want to be found in the wrong. No Department of State ever wants to admit that what they have done is wrongful. Once they have an adopted line, they'll defend it to the last." This certainly seems to be what is happening right now in Ireland!
And another worrying point made by Navan Dental: While in office, Ryan managed to force through a late amendment to the 1960 Health Act, stating that "it shall be the duty" of future health ministers to carry out health studies on the safety and health impacts of Water Fluoridation... yet fifty years on, no such studies have been conducted by the Irish Department of Health. And yet fluoride is a medication which is still being administered without informed consent, to 68% of our population, without impact studies, without consideration being give to our various states of health, or the varying doses we are ingesting, or what other medications we might be on, and most strangely without any medical license ever being issued. Confused? We are too!