The last time we were in Hangzhou, a friendly maitre-d named Luke posed a very thought-provoking question to us: where on earth is the Nongfu Spring, and how big could it possibly be to fill so many darn bottles of water? Of course, we know that the fabled spring of Nongfu is just a metaphorical figment of our collective, commercialized imaginations, but it still made us want to check out their corporate headquarters to see what was really up.
Needless to say, we had our suspicions when Nongfu Spring soft drinks were reportedly contaminated with arsenic. We immediately thought of James Fallows’ article on health in china, where drinking tap water out of Evian bottles at a Buddhist temple sent him to the hospital. But fear not, Nongfu devotees: the Haikou bureau of Industry and Commerce cleared the company’s products for sale today.
Granted, it was Nongfu Spring’s 30 percent mixed vegetable/fruit juice and its C-100 grapefruit juice that were contaminated, not the water. But it still makes us a little bit trepidatious when it comes to purchasing potential shanzai consumables. Stories like the one where our friend accidentally spilled Coca Cola and ended up bleaching her clothing scare us a lot, so we’ve got two words of ancient advice for living in China: caveat emptor.