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…

 

PONG !!

7674.Pong

No, not that Pong.  This Pong:

jeff-nybo-beer-pong

Beer Pong.  You know, that game involving ping pong balls and Solo cups and lotsa heavy drinking.

And we can find beer pong ‘kits’ and other drinking paraphernalia at local grocery stores and big box (department) stores that sell beer as an extension of their grocery department.  Funnels or beer ‘bongs’.  Drinking games. Other fun stuff.  All to encourage mass consumption and intoxication.

People love it so much, they’ve built interactive, electronic beer pong tables, as covered by the CBC.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a tad irresponsible to be marketing Beer Pong and the tools of crazy drunkenness in the same place they sell toys, cheese and baby clothes.  We have children, many of whom that cannot discern between colorful things meant for amusement or more nefarious activities, that are going to get the wrong impression.

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.

 

A Brave New Way Home

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As the Toronto Star reported last year, there is no lack of controversy as the Way Home festival hits the Orillia area.   This is massive music festival coming to Burl’s Creek, a big open-ground event center, just north of the city.

Complaints from local citizens include the volume of the music, zoning violations when the grounds are used for camping, the re-purposing of prime farmland, garbage, traffic, and other problems.  Essentially, the controversy has been rolling since the property was purchased by its new owners and enlarged.  Check out the highlights from last year:

What’s more, there’s Boots and Hearts, a huge country music festival that comes in August.  Check out the ‘movie trailer’-style video:

Obviously, these are gigantic parties.  Whether or not local citizens are happy with the events in their backyards, it’s obvious that mass gatherings are places for much raucous behavior, drinking and debauchery.  There wouldn’t be much fun at these types of events if those elements were missing.  But yet, we know that alcohol is a BIG part of the down and dirty, and wherever alcohol lives in mass quantities, we have the potential for harm.   Violence, injury, overdose.

This raises the larger issue as to where where social and individual responsibility meet in regards to alcohol.  Do the consequences of consumption belong exclusively to the drinker, or do they also belong to the planners and organizers of the social context, where alcohol is deeply embedded and entrenched?

Yo Ho ! There be warnings ahead

 

http://Alcohol%20warning%20labels

There are rumblings from the far side o’ the future that we may end up with warning labels on our alcoholic beverages.   Which might be interesting, considering there is advocacy for nutrition labels as well.  You know – highlighting all those ’empty calories’ – energy without nutrition.

I am no expert on the law, but considering what I do know about legislation, I’ll guess the reason you have a listing of ingredients and calories on a Pizza Pop  but not on a beer…is because, legally speaking, beer is not Food !  Food has the potential to provide your body with important sustenance, vitamins, protein.  Whereas beer is….well, you know what beer is.

Labels to better enrich our understanding of what we are getting up to and in to when we drink has been studied, such as in the video above from Global News.  If certain advocacy groups succeed (such as health agencies who want you to live long and prosper) – you’ll be see labels like the ones below, as highlighted by CTV.

alcohol warning

The question is whether these kinds of labels are effective in changing drinking behaviors.  I think it’s fair to say that they raise awareness about the issue, as they are so graphic as to be unavoidable and unmistakable.

But they would be just one piece of a change in our social philosophy regarding alcohol – where it begins with more persons working to have more non-drinking days, as part of the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines.

 

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.