How to Dry it Out and Up

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There’s got to be some anxiety out there about this going dry in January thing.  In our case, it’s called the Ready to be Thirsty Challenge.  All over the world, interested parties are prompting drinkers to forgo the parties – at least for this January.  Or, at least keep those parties dry and you can watch your friends get all tipsy and daft without you…

Maybe your office’s seasonal cheer is a gonzo freak-show like Office Christmas Party, I don’t know.  But maybe any and all of us deserve a break from the madness, following all the Yuletide gaiety.  And if so, here’s a few suggestions on how to do it right (according to Marie Claire – always take sobering advice from a fashion magazine):

A. Do the challenge with a friend – why go it alone?  Strength in numbers!

B. Focus on your hobbies and other interestsyou’ll have time to learn silk weaving, or learn about cosmic string theory.  Read a book, go snow-shoeing, try something new.

C. Get busy – keep involved in your passions, unless your passion is vodka

D. Treat yourselfsave your booze bucks and get your nails done.  Or buy a real screwdriver instead of a Screwdriver.

E. Stay away from your triggerslike, say, the bar/restaurant, or meals that typically would inspire beer or wine

F. Let people know you’re doing it – if you’re friends know you’re off the suds, they are less likely to tempt you!

G. Eat healthy, live healthy – If you’ve stopped sipping for January, you might fill the gap with all the chocolate you got for Christmas.  Instead, make the challenge part of a larger scheme to lose some weight, get active.  It could change your whole approach to winter…

Read the whole article here

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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:

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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…

 

Yo Ho ! There be warnings ahead

 

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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.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

Overhaul the Alcohol !!

Here at Thirst, we look at alcohol from all the angles.

Big Picture:  A new plan just unveiled is changing how wine is being sold and distributed in Ontario.  Akin to how beer entered grocery stores in the past few months, we are about to see wine do the same, and be more available than ever.  This is another change in the overhaul to our alcohol distribution system.

That’s big picture stuff , systems at work – and maybe you’re happy about it – maybe it will save you a trip, I don’t know.

Small Picture: You and your community.   More access to booze means more consumption and more problems…not necessarily for you (okay, maybe you) – but perhaps for your daughter, your neighbor, your friend…and then, maybe for the cops, the jail, the hospital. You see, when you care about your community, you’re actually caring about yourself, and those you love.

When you look at both pictures…and maybe your own consumption, your own health, it starts to meld into a larger sense of knowing.

Figure 5

Viva la revolución !!

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There are parallels between the Americas and industrialized countries elsewhere in the world, relative to alcohol.   Countries like England, Austria, Russia, Ireland – all ‘first world’ countries in northern climates; all have relatively high alcohol consumption.

Similarly, they have serious health impacts. 

An interesting article from Scotland acknowledges that governments are concerned about alcohol as a social and cultural problem that creates a financial burden.  Beyond that, it hurts people, children, families.  

The question is how to take action.  One option is minimum pricing and taxation, while eliminating discounts and incentives to drink.   Another is control over alcohol advertising.   

Thirty years ago, there began an evolution of the laws around tobacco, because the evidence was overwhelming and people were dying.  As a result, our values regarding smoking have changed.

Meantime, alcohol consumption is up, and the burden of disease is large.

Is alcohol the next health revolution?