Shake Shake Shake your Chibuku

Above, you see a group of rugby players attempting to try an African-produced beer-type drink called Chibuku Shake Shake.  This is technically ‘beer’, but not as we know it.  It’s a thick milky, brown-ish alcoholic beverage from Africa, made from sorghum.

As you can see in the video, it is served in a milk carton.  Interestingly, it’s alcohol content is not constant – as it is first packaged, it starts with a very low concentration, and gradually increases over time (after you buy it, if you don’t drink it right away, it gets stronger).  But, after about a week on the shelf, you wouldn’t want to drink it anymore, as it goes bad.  In fact, seeing this video, you may not want to drink it at all, as it appears pretty bad to begin with!

I learned about Chibuku from the following map:

fav-drinks-map

This is from the BBC – a world map of the favorite or most commonly consumed alcohol drinks across the world.

Orange countries love beer.  Yellow colored countries prefer spirits (aka ‘hard liquor’), and red countries dig their wine.  But those green countries – they love ‘other beverages’ – which led me to discovering Chibuku and a variety of other interesting and obscure variants out there.

Follow this link to article and the BBC Booze Calculator.  This will let you plug in your own weekly consumption habits and compare to international drinkers and countries the world over.  Not sure how much Chibuku you’re chugging down, but maybe you want to check out how much beer Canadians actually consume…

 

Generational Sobriety

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Never one to fear a new trend here at Thirst, we are happy to examine the neo-choice, the pendulum swing of the world, as captured in the infotainment of mass media.

Shedding light into the generational darkness, we have an article from The Globe and Mail extolling the highlights of chosen sobriety. Teetotalism appears to be the new fashion, perhaps for a few select famous persons, and perhaps among the young of legal drinking age.  We have millennials, who instead of sloshing around in the gutters of a block party as the rest of us did, instead seem to want to highlight their Jack Lalanne-esque power-juicing, selfie-on-Machu Piccu, yoga-enhanced lives, in contrary action to us Gen-X’ers.  They’ve got better things to do.

And evidently if your existence runs contemporary to Douglas Coupland, you never met a frothy, triple-hopped, watermelon-infused brew you didn’t want to stay home to drink.  We love that stuff!  Bring on the Sawdust City and Lake of Bays, baby, we’re ready to sip the suds and lose our flexibility in middle age.

Yes, us Gen-X folk, significantly later than previous generations (whom we envy) and the later generations (whom we mildly despise), we – the wanton and wild lost boys of the fall of Saigonwe are finally coming into enough job security to generate the disposable income to facilitate the ordering of beer online from the LCBO and to have it delivered by a mailperson right to our front door.  Oh yes, the day so cometh.

That’s not a good thing from a health perspective, if you ask the public health nurse 😦

Meantime, the younger set has a different set of values and I’ll assume it’s partly motivated by the conscious self-reverence of youth in bloom, and the docu-culture that compounds it.  Social media has made private lives into public spectacle, and drunkenness isn’t as rave as it used to be.   That’s actually a good thing from a health perspective, if you ask the public health nurse 🙂

While it’s difficult to appreciate the guy standing in front of you at a concert who would rather video the whole thing on his phone than actually, you know, be there….if he’s choosing to be high on life than on Bud Light, then heck, more power to his Android.

Photo by Ginny, via Creative Commons. No changes. 

Deliver Us…

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The Toronto Star reports that the LCBO has opened up their retailing business to include selling alcoholic beverages on-line, along with the option of home delivery (by Canada Post, it seems, oddly), or delivery to an LCBO store of choice.

This will, of course, allow for the selection of many products that cannot normally be stocked in bricks-and-mortar locations, where shelf space is limited.  Meantime, virtual listings can allow for the ordering of obscure or less popular products that live only at warehouses.

Modernization.  That’s the new-age standard for alcohol.   Such modern mechanisms of e-commerce will likely allow for small brewers and small vintners – such as little guys in Ontario, BC and Quebec – to carve out a market for their products, where the old-fashioned way of getting stuff onto the shelves of The Beer Store or the LCBO just wasn’t or isn’t feasible.

Now, home delivery isn’t new.  Private companies have been offering beer, wine and liquor delivery for many years, in places like Toronto, Barrie and other cities throughout Ontario.  Now it’s just one of the big guns wading into the same business.  Maybe The Beer Store will follow suit with a phone service for home delivery – just like ordering a pizza.

Unfortunately, beer isn’t pizza.  While I don’t fault any little brewer for trying to peddle his wares, it remains that pizza on the average, doesn’t cause seven types of cancer…or cause folks to get violent…or act as a catalyst for accidental pregnancy.

Alcohol is not a regular, everyday commodity, like pizza or pens or popcorn.  Alcohol is a very special thing, that needs to be governed in a way that respects its potential for harm.   Ultra-convenient alcohol seems to me the opposite.

 

Political Guide to Getting DeBunked

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We’re all for debunking myths here at Thirst. And maybe there’s a perception about alcohol that it’s universally available here in Canada, or certainly that it’s more broadly available than ever before.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

And certainly, we may not all know how much variance there is in pricing from province to province.  Maybe you think it’s all the same.  It isn’t.

From a fairly light exploration of Canada’s drinking laws on Narcity.com, see above a map illustrating variations in the selling points of alcohol, across the territories and provinces.   You can see that booze isn’t even available in Nunavut, and if you wanted a beer, you’d have to order it by mail… and that Alberta has private liquor stores.  A big difference in approach from Ontario!

What’s more, you can see on an interactive map from the.Loop that in addition to different places, there are also very different prices.  In fact, beer is so much cheaper in Quebec that some persons have taken to making ‘runs’ to buy big quantities and bringing it back to their home province.   This from a more serious discussion on CBC news,  illuminating details on recent discussions about inter-provincial laws as they relate to alcohol.

Make no mistake – booze is big business, and these variations represent the market forces of large industries and other interests. Any thoughts to the contrary are a myth, indeed.

Perhaps if we as a society viewed alcohol as something potentially very harmful that needed to be managed instead of a commodity that needed to be sold, the rules would be different.  On that note, see the chart below, illustrating the harms (disease/dependence/injuries/violence) of alcohol as compared to other drugs…an eye opener!

harm

Big Culture, Big Alcohol

Celebrating-Alcohol

 

 

 

 

 

Alcohol is part of our culture.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that in the past of number of years, the breadth of alcohol culture has increased, -its availability has widened.

It’s a lot more places than it ever used to be…

We see the possibility of booze being consumed where we get our haircut, at Starbucks, at the whole darned festival instead of just the beer tent, on the golf course, at the Farmer’s market.  We can buy it at the Supermarket.

This is in part due to market forces – economics.  Connected to economics and money as a driver, is marketing.  Marketing is the communication between corporate entities and consumer audiences, trying to entice changes in our choices and behaviour.  Marketing is a huge part of how we think, imagine, behave and define our social expectations.

For example, the diamond ring as an engagement present is a relatively new idea, perpetuated through mass marketing of diamonds by the DeBeers corporation.  Essentially, marketing convinced us as a society that diamonds are a symbol of love and commitment…and they sold a whole lot more diamonds after that.  It’s a very famous story.

The same principles hold true to alcohol marketing.  While economics have created pressure to allow alcohol to be available in more places, marketing has worked to create alcohol as a normal, everyday thing – a symbol of fun, ceremony or social exuberance.

Yet, let’s think for a second:

  • no one hands out samples of other recreational drugs at the Supermarket
  • there are no other recreational drugs that are advertised in print, or on television to make us feel we’ll be more attractive, popular, or likely to find a sexual partner if we partake…
  • no other recreational drugs have posters at the bus stop, or on huge billboards, or have hilarious commercials during sporting events
  • no other recreational drugs have massive sponsorship deals to support sports, athletes, car-racing or the arts…

Yet we have all this and much, much more for alcohol, convincing us that alcohol is a normal, fun, exciting, sexy, dynamic, funny, crazy, wonderful thing.  And while any one of us might feel this way in regards to booze for a social occasion or two, the truth is that over-consumption of alcohol is killing us, and costing us billions as a society.

 

Truth in Advertising ??

A compelling documentary on alcohol is attached to this Blog.  It’s long-ish, but maybe you’ll find it as fascinating as I did.

After all – the ‘truth’ in regards to alcohol is a complex one. We’ve got it sold by huge corporate entities, or used as liquid leverage to stimulate tourism.  We love to drink it at parties and gatherings, we use to amplify emotion, and to celebrate and to commiserate.

We are addicted to it…as individuals, and as a society who seems to want it ever more varied and available.

It correlates with crime and violence.

It creates disease.

It facilitates a party.

It shores up confidence (or is it impulsiveness?)

Alcohol has very complex and interwoven truths that filter down through every layer of our society and social lives.  It generates interesting and wild stories.  Some such stories have tragic endings.

water

 

The Consequences of Cool

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There’s a recent article on the CBC talking about how the Craft beer industry might be fueling addiction.  An interesting subject, considering the Craft beer industry here in Ontario is similarly exploding.

Certainly, where there is growth in the alcohol industry, where there is growth in accessibility, where there is growth in social acceptability, there is the correlation of increased use, and therefore, the possibility of dependence and addiction.  We know this from research (that’s a bit dry and long – but it’s solid and scientifically sound).

In the article, there’s some cross-talk about how craft beer can’t be fueling addiction because people are drinking all this fancy beer for the taste, the experience.  Perhaps the same logic would apply then, to scotch or wine aficionados – after all, aren’t they too consuming for the sake of coolness, for the sake of hipster-ism and all the cultural gusto…?

The truth of the matter is that while our motives to drink vary greatly, the outcome can often be the same – drinking to the point of over-consumption, whether one is tippling too much at a sitting, or just too frequently.  The consequences are also there in the research…chronic disease, cancer-risk, high-blood pressure.

A related article talks about drinking on campuses – college kids getting off on the wrong foot with alcohol.  Imagine – college kids partying and binge drinking…never!  Yes, it’s true, our relationship with alcohol starts young and carries on into adulthood, middle-age and further.  If we think it’s cool either because it’s a crafty, watermelon-infused, triple-hopped lager…or it’s a bottle of 1992 California Super-Fruit Cab-Sav…or it’s a sip of a 27-year old peaty Glen-wherever scotch….  As soon as you believe it’s cool, you’re more likely to want it, try it, drink it, indulge in it.  And coolness leads where it leads.