Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Drinks’ Category

Are ancient grains healthier?

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Kamut® is, as explained at the link, the registered trademark for organically raised khorosan wheat. It’s one of my favorite grains, and I eat it frequently — as intact whole grains, not squashed (Kamut flakes) or pulverized (Kamut flour). Reason? Because intact whole grains are better for you. (I cook a batch of grain, then either use it, along with a legume, to make tempeh or store it in the fridge and take servings from it.) Note that the bran of grain is not merely fiber but includes important vitamins and minerals.

After viewing this short video, though, I am going to get some einkorn, both for tempeh and to eat as part of a meal. And perhaps a bottle of Ancient Grains whisky.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2023 at 9:44 am

Locally made vermouth the world’s best

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A row of vermouths and aperitifs with colorful labels, all featuring the name Esquimalt.

It’s always pleasant when some local food or drink is truly excellent, and Esquimalt Vermouth & Aperitifs is one such vendor (just over the bridge from Victoria). Ryan Hook reports in Tasting Victoria:

Behind a warehouse on Devonshire Road in an industrial park in Esquimalt—inside an even smaller warehouse—Quinn and Michela Palmer, co-owners of Esquimalt Vermouth & Aperitifs, work day in and day out to make the world’s best vermouth. Literally.

Earlier this month, the small-scale craft producer won World’s Best Dry Vermouth and World’s Best Semi-Sweet Vermouth at the 2023 World Vermouth Awards in London, UK.

The designation of World’s Best comes with gold medals for their Rosso (semi-sweet) and Dry vermouths, and a close silver medal for their Bianco Vermouth (also in the semi-sweet category).

“We are over the moon with this recognition and are so excited to put Vancouver Island on the map as the home of the world’s best vermouth,” Quinn said.

They are the first non-European vermouth producers to win World’s Best in the history of the competition.

But it’s not the first time Esquimalt Vermouth & Aperitifs has taken home an armful of awards. In 2021, the husband-wife duo won double-gold medals for their Rosso Vermouth, Dry Vermouth, and Kina-Rouge Quinquina at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 May 2023 at 10:12 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Drinks

Pour one out: A good summary of current knowledge about alcohol and its effects on health

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Tim Requarth writes in Slate:

In 1991 an academic debate spilled out of ivory towers and into the popular imagination. That year, Serge Renaud, a celebrated and charismatic alcohol researcher at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research-who also hailed from a winemaking family in Bordeaux-made a fateful appearance on 60 Minutes. Asked why the French had lower rates of cardiovascular disease than Americans did, even though people in both countries consumed high-fat diets, Renaud replied, without missing a beat, “The consumption of alcohol.” Renaud suspected that the so-called French paradox could be explained by the red wine at French dinner tables.

The French paradox quickly found a receptive audience. The day after the episode aired, according to an account in the food magazine the Valley Table, all U.S. airlines ran out of red wine. For the next month, red wine sales in the U.S. spiked by 44 percent. When the show was re-aired in 1992, sales spiked again, by 49 percent, and stayed elevated for years. Wine companies quickly adorned their bottles with neck tags extolling the product’s health benefits, which were backed up by the research that Renaud had been relying on when he made his offthe-cuff claim, and the dozens of studies that followed.

By 1995, the U.S. dietary guidelines had removed language that alcohol had “no net benefit.” Marion Nestle, professor emerita of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, was involved in drafting those guidelines. “The evidence in the mid-90s seemed incontrovertible, whether you liked it or not. And boy, none of the people who were concerned about the effects of alcohol on society liked that research. But they couldn’t find anything wrong with it at the time. And so, there it was; it had to be dealt with. And it got into the dietary guidelines.”

The press ran with it. A New York Times front-page headline announced, “In an About-Face, U.S. Savs Alcohol Has Health Benefits.” The assistant secretary of health said at the time, “In my personal view, wine with meals in moderation is beneficial. There was a significant bias in the past against drinking. To move from antialcohol to health benefits is a big change.”

Physicians were also changing their tunes. One influential alcohol researcher, R. Curtis Ellisonwho made a cameo on that infamous 60 Minutes episode about the French paradox-wrote in Wine Spectator in 1998, “You should consume alcohol on a regular basis, perhaps daily. Some might even say that it is dangerous to go more than 24 hours without a drink.”

The results live in all of our heads: There’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine with dinner every night, right? After all, years of studies have suggested that small amounts of alcohol can favorably tweak cholesterol levels, keeping arteries clear of gunk and reducing coronary heart disease. Moderate alcohol use has been endorsed by many doctors and public health officials for years. We’ve all seen the Times headlines.

Now, 25 years later, you’re likely feeling a fair bit of whiplash. According to new guidelines released in recent months by the World Health Organization, the World Heart Federation, and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, the safest level of drinking is-brace yourself-not a single drop.

“Mainstream scientific opinion has flipped,” said Tim Stockwell, a professor at the University of
Victoria who was on the expert panel that rewrote Canada’s guidance on alcohol and health. Last month, . . .

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Bottom line: 2-3 drinks a week will increase health risk, but only by a little.

Written by Leisureguy

5 May 2023 at 12:27 pm

Relaxing with a Canadian Old Fashioned

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I’m having a Canadian Old Fashioned: cracked ice, rye (the traditional spirit for Old Fashioneds), 2 tsp maple syrup (instead of simple syrup), a dash of Angostura bitters, and a twist of lemon. (I don’t know that it’s actually called that; I just made it up.)

Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2023 at 6:28 pm

A review of the alcohol debate

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From what I’ve read, the evidence strongly indicates that in terms of health, the ideal intake of alcohol is zero drinks per day, even though some guidelines say as many as four drinks a day are fine. (I think that recommendation must come from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America.)

Peter Weber in The Week has a good summary of current knowledge:

o drink or not to drink, that is … actually not the question most healthy adults should be asking. There is, after all, general agreement that binge drinking and heavy drinking are bad for your health and life more generally. And few alcohol experts argue that abstaining from alcohol is bad for you. But there are very mixed messages, based on imperfect studies, about the health risks — or benefits — of moderate drinking. Public health guidance is veering toward temperance, but with some important caveats. So is it better to tipple or teetotal? Here’s what you should know.

What is ‘moderate’ drinking? And binge drinking?

Moderate drinking can mean anything from one to four drinks a day — a drink, in this case, being a 5-ounce glass of wine (12 percent alcohol by volume), a 12-ounce serving of beer (5 percent ABV, low for craft brews), 8 ounces of 7 percent ABV brew, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor (40 percent ABV). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) U.S. Dietary Guidelines advise no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. 

Binge drinking, as defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is four or more drinks in a two-hour period for women and five or more drinks in two hours for men. Heavy drinking is eight or more drinks a week for women and 15 or more drinks a week for men. 


To get the observed rewards of moderate alcohol consumption, “drinking 10 drinks Friday and Saturday nights does not convey the benefits of two or three drinks daily, even though your weekly totals would be the same,” Stanton Peele, an addiction/public health specialist, cautioned at Pacific Standard. “Frequent, heavy binge drinking is unhealthy.” If you have a history of alcoholism, one drink may be too many, and those with an alcoholic liver disease — alcoholic fatty liver, hepatitis, or cirrhosis — risk death when they drink.

Is it safe to drink any alcohol?

“Sorry to be a buzz-kill, but that nightly glass or two of wine is not improving your health,” Dana G. Smith writes at The New York Times. Decades of research “indicated that moderate alcohol consumption has protective health benefits,” the CDC says, but “recent studies show this may not be true.” The Global Burden of Diseases study, a sweeping global study published in 2018, suggested that no alcohol is good alcohol. 


The research looked at the effects of alcohol use in 195 countries from 1990 to 2016, analyzing disease risks but also driving accidents, self-harm, and other factors in alcohol-related deaths. The possible heart benefits of moderate drinking were assessed to be outweighed by cancer and other diseases. “Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none,” the report said. “This level is in conflict with most health guidelines, which espouse health benefits associated with consuming up to two drinks per day.”

Some countries took note. New guidelines in Canada, unveiled by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) in January, advise no more than two drinks a week, and less would be better. “The main message from this new guidance is that  . . .

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A can of Bllonde Lager de-alcoholized beer, showing stylized green mountains behind a blue lack with dark green everygreen trees in foreground, the beer brand in large yellow letters.

Full disclosure: Yesterday I bought a 12-pack of de-alcoholized beer. There are a number of brands I’ve seen recently in grocery stores — Sober Carpenter, for example, offers a variety of excellent full-tasting brews: Lager, IPA, Red Ale, and so on.

It turns out to be quite pleasant to enjoy a beer without getting slightly buzzed and dunderheaded. 

I’ll probably try some of the de-alcoholized wines as well since the beers have turned out to be so good.

I did not make a decision to stop drinking. I just drifted away, and then discovered I liked not feeling tipsy. As my life improved, I felt less like drinking — perhaps causation goes the other way.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2023 at 7:16 am

Do Any Benefits of Alcohol Outweigh the Risks?

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This also is interesting.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2023 at 12:15 pm

Even a Little Alcohol Can Harm Your Health

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I have de facto quit drinking — that is, I gradually became aware that I wasn’t drinking any alcohol (except at family celebrations like Christmas and Thanksgiving). I just drifted away from it without making any conscious decision (though I imagine my unconscious knew what it was doing).

I’ve read that studies whose findings show better outcomes for those who drink a little (than for those who do not drink at all) included among the non-drinkers people who had quit drinking for reasons of health — thus the observed findings. When the studies were rerun, excluding from the non-drinkers those who had formerly been drinkers, the supposed health benefits of moderate drinking vanished.

Dana G. Smith has an article in the NY Times (no paywall) that explains what is now known about the effects of drinking:

Sorry to be a buzz-kill, but that nightly glass or two of wine is not improving your health.

After decades of confusing and sometimes contradictory research (too much alcohol is bad for you but a little bit is good; some types of alcohol are better for you than others; just kidding, it’s all bad), the picture is becoming clearer: Even small amounts of alcohol can have health consequences.

Research published in November revealed that between 2015 and 2019, excessive alcohol use resulted in roughly 140,000 deaths per year in the United States. About 40 percent of those deaths had acute causes, like car crashes, poisonings and homicides. But the majority were caused by chronic conditions attributed to alcohol, such as liver disease, cancer and heart disease.

When experts talk about the dire health consequences linked to excessive alcohol use, people often assume that it’s directed at individuals who have an alcohol use disorder. But the health risks from drinking can come from moderate consumption as well.

“Risk starts to go up well below levels where people would think, ‘Oh, that person has an alcohol problem,’” said Dr. Tim Naimi, director of the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. “Alcohol is harmful to the health starting at very low levels.”

If you’re wondering whether you should cut back on your drinking, here’s what to know about when and how alcohol impacts your health.

“Excessive alcohol use” technically means anything above the U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ recommended daily limits. That’s more than two drinks a day for men and more than one drink a day for women.

There is also emerging evidence “that there are risks even within these levels, especially for certain types of cancer and some forms of cardiovascular disease,” said Marissa Esser, who leads the alcohol program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The recommended daily limits are not meant to be averaged over a week, either. In other words, if you abstain Monday through Thursday and have two or three drinks a night on the weekend, those weekend drinks count as excessive consumption. It’s both the cumulative drinks over time and the amount of alcohol in your system on any one occasion that can cause damage.

Scientists think that the main way alcohol causes health problems is by

Continue reading. (no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

17 January 2023 at 4:23 pm

How Coffee Fueled Revolutions—and Revolutionary Ideas

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Jessica Pearce Rotondi writes in History:

Sultan Murad IV decreed death to coffee drinkers in the Ottoman Empire. King Charles II dispatched spies to infiltrate London’s coffeehouses, which he saw as the original source of “false news.” During the Enlightenment, Voltaire, Rousseau and Isaac Newton could all be found talking philosophy over coffee. The cafés of Paris sheltered revolutionaries plotting the storming of the Bastille and later, served as the place authors like Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre plotted their latest books.

History is steeped in ideas sparked over cups of coffee. Here’s a rundown of the revolutionary power of the commonplace café.

The First Coffee House Opens in the Ottoman Empire

Coffee houses began in the Ottoman Empire. Since liquor and bars were off-limits to most practicing Muslims, coffeehouses provided an alternative place to gather, socialize and share ideas. Coffee’s affordability and egalitarian structure—anyone could come in and order a cup—eroded centuries of social norms. Not everyone was pleased by this change.

In 1633, Sultan Murad IV decreed that the consumption of coffee was a capital offense. Murad IV’s brother and uncle had been killed by janissaries, infantry units who were known to frequent cafes. The sultan was so dedicated to catching coffee sippers in the act that he allegedly disguised himself as a commoner and prowled Istanbul, decapitating offenders with his hundred-pound broadsword.

Ottoman sultans issued and retracted coffeehouse bans well into the 18th century to prevent the gathering of dissidents. But by then, . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2022 at 8:11 pm

Clever Coffee dripper

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A Clever Coffee dripper with coffee brewing inside and lid on top

I mentioned the Clever Coffee dripper in my post yesterday on the many health benefits of coffee — though it’s important to note that those benefits are negated if dairy milk or cream is added to the coffee. If you want that sort of coffee and also its health benefits, then use oat milk or oat creamer instead of dairy. 

I used a link in that post, but I later found a better link that offers more explanation. (I’ve updated the original post.)

Written by Leisureguy

17 November 2022 at 8:04 am

The 10 main properties and benefits of coffee

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I plan to resume drinking coffee, but to avoid physical addiction I will drink it only twice a week (Monday and Thursday) or at most three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). I will drink it black because adding milk removes the health benefits and adding sugar — well, not me. (If you must use milk/cream in your coffee, take that as a sign you are not drinking good-quality coffee that’s well brewed. But if that’s what you must drink, then use oat milk rather than a dairy product.)

I plan to make a pint each time — the right amount for my Joveo Temperfect mug — and I’ll use the Clever Coffee dripper.

The reasons I am resuming coffee are set forth in this newsletter. It begins:

  1. Health benefits of coffee
    1. 1. Coffee helps to reduce fat
    2. 2. Coffee reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
    3. 3. Enhance cognitive skills
    4. 4. Increases physical performance
    5. 5. It has an antioxidant function
    6. 6. Decreases the risk of degenerative diseases
    7. 7. Reduced risk of cancer
    8. 8. Reduces the onset of vascular diseases
    9. 9. It is a source of multiple nutrients
    10. 10. Improvement of mood
  2. Bottom line
  3. ❤️ Enjoy this Newsletter?

Nowadays, everyone suffers from an addiction to something, be it drugs, alcohol, sex, sugar, new technologies, gambling, etc… The Addict Breaker is here to help you, with useful advice based on neuroscience and psychology, to overcome your addictions and adopt healthy habits. Subscribe for free

☕️ Good Morning Friends, Today we’ll talk about the main benefits and properties of coffee.

Coffee is a beverage obtained from the ground and roasted beans of the plant of the same name, whose properties go far beyond the stimulation provided by caffeine. Today, we will have an overview of its main benefits on physical and mental health.

Coffee is one of the most consumed drinks in the world. Its stimulating effects are well known, but not so much the benefits it can have on mental and physical health.

It has been observed that a regular and controlled consumption of coffee, between 2 and 4 cups a day, can have the following benefits:

  • favors the functioning of some of the cognitive skills,
  • given the increase in vigilance and alertness,
  • it helps burn fat and maintain a correct body weight,
  • it reduces the risk of diseases such as some types of cancer, strokes or liver conditions.

Despite the benefits found, we must monitor and control consumption, since excessive drinking of coffee can be harmful. Symptoms of addictive substances such as poisoning or withdrawal syndrome have been observed.

For this reason, it should not replace good lifestyle habits, such as a healthy diet or rest for the hours necessary for the body to recover. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2022 at 8:17 pm

Can alcohol cause cancer?

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Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2022 at 9:17 am

This ‘wine mom’ never questioned her drinking. Then she stopped for a month.

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Cathy Alter has an interesting article in the Washington Post on how she interrupted her drinking. It was particularly interesting to me because I have realized that I have stopped drinking without having made a conscious decision to stop. I have always enjoyed alcohol in the form of wine and spirits and (good) cocktails, but when I started tracking my budget more closely, I realized how much wine and spirits cost, so I decided to cut back on buying them. And as I read more about the effect of alcohol on health, I realized that in fact drinking alcohol significantly increases health risks. The health risk from a single glass of wine or just one cocktail is insignificant, but as I discussed in an earlier post, the “compound-interest” effect of consistently (e.g., daily) doing something that, on any one day, makes but a small difference, will over time result in major gains (e.g., Nordic walking) or major losses (e.g., smoking cigarettes).

One Nordic walk will not do much to improve one’s fitness; daily Nordic walking for a month will make a noticeable improvement. One cigarette (or one drink) will not do much to damage one’s health; daily smoking (or drinking) will in time do considerable damage.

At any rate, once I started tracking my weekly grocery/miscellaneous budget, I stopped buying alcohol. That was at the beginning of this year, and since restaurants are no longer really a thing for me since Covid, I haven’t eaten out much. (When I had dnner in a restaurant, I usually had a drink before dinner and a glass of wine with the meal.)

So, without really meaning to, I did stop drinking, and once I had gone several months without a drink, I realized I didn’t much want a drink because I didn’t like the fuzziness of mind that it produces.

I doubtless will have a drink at Thanksgiving and at Christmas as part of a family celebration, but the occasional and rare drink doesn’t present a problem. It’s the day-in, day-out glass of wine or evening cocktail that presents the compound-interest outcome and, eventually, a serious problem — just as the day-in, day-out Nordic walk results in a significant improvement in fitness (an improvement that is not really noticeable when comparing one day to the following day).

At any rate, I found Cathy Alter’s article (gift link, no paywall) in the Washington Post quite interesting — and the comments also are interesting. The article begins:

It all started with a news release. As a journalist, I get multiple pitches a day: “Best and Worst Cities for Healthy Dogs,” “Why the Buzz about Glutathione?” and, sit down for this one, the opportunity to talk to the founder of Parting Stone, a start-up that turns the ashes of loved ones into smooth rocks and pebbles (40 to 60 of them).

But this email, from Dry Together, really got my attention. Despite sounding like a communal bathhouse, Dry Together is an online hamlet for midlife moms who are seeking ways to cope — with work, with family, with life — that don’t involve a tumbler of alcohol. Founders and former college roommates Holly Sprague and Megan Barnes Zesati, who are both nondrinkers, were inviting women ages 35 to 60 to participate in their second annual Dry January challenge, which would include, among other avenues of support, a weekly one-hour Zoom get-together facilitated by Sprague and Barnes Zesati. “A month without alcohol is sometimes just what moms need in order to

Also by Cathy Alter: When the ‘mean girl’ is a woman

Being the 56-year-old mother of a 10-year-old named Leo and having a nightly habit of a glass or two of boxed red, I met the criteria and, to some degree, the “wine mom” stereotype. I do own a pair of socks that read “My Favorite Salad is Wine.” I once considered bringing a colossal wine glass — a gag gift capable of holding an entire bottle — to my book club. And I texted friends the link to that “Saturday Night Live” sketch where Aidy Bryant unwraps her birthday gifts, a series of increasingly barbed wooden signs reading, for example, “I like you better when I’m effed up.” (Scary Mommy wrote a piece entitled “ ‘SNL’ Wine Skit Is Hilarious Because It’s True.”)

The fact that I was a stereotype gave me pause. Perhaps it was time for me to take a break and, as suggested by Dry Together’s promotional email, consider my relationship with alcohol. I also had recently lost 30 pounds gained in a covid stress haze and had been talking to my husband, Karl, about wanting to get healthier. January, after all, is a time for new beginnings.

I hadn’t gone cold turkey since I was pregnant. But in less time than it takes to say Beaujolais, I paid the $39 monthly fee and awaited instructions.

According to a recent study, while Americans drank 14 percent more compared with before the pandemic, women increased their alcohol intake by 41 percent. I saw this play out in real time, not only in my own uptick (think three glasses of wine on “Bachelor” nights), but also in the renewed habit of a dear friend, an empty nester and recovered alcoholic who had been sober for 40 years.

“Once covid hit, and I was alone in my apartment, I started drinking a glass or two of Prosecco every night — just to ease the loneliness and fear,” she told me. She assured me that she has since stopped, adding: “The precipice is deep and always close.”

Dry Together, which has 40 members, does not ask anyone to identify as an alcoholic. It doesn’t even ask its members to quit drinking — during the month or forever. Abstinence is a choice and, as I learn the first night, a few of the women present were already planning to go back to drinking come February, while others weren’t sure what they would do. It’s a delicate dance, this come-here-go-back dalliance with booze.

As we went around the Zoom room, the 15 women — . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 September 2022 at 6:39 pm

What Prohibition was really about

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Mark Lawrence Schrad, professor of political science and director of Russian area studies at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and author of Smashing the Liquor Machine: A Global History of Prohibition (2021), writes in Aeon:

I have only the highest respect for the documentarian Ken Burns. He’s America’s storyteller: an unrivalled filmmaker whose creativity, passion and style shine through every history he portrays. My intent is not to dunk on anyone, but rather to start a conversation about how Americans as a society grapple with our own contentious history. Our identities are shaped by the collective experiences of our past, and how we see ourselves in relation to them. Together, we constantly reframe and revise the past to make it make sense to us in the present.

It just so happens that the best place to start that conversation is with Burns and Lynn Novick’s five-and-a-half-hour TV miniseries Prohibition (2011), which covers that most misunderstood chapter in US history, from the 1919 ratification of the 18th Amendment – prohibiting ‘the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors’ – until its repeal by the 21st Amendment in 1933. Prohibition deserves our attention because it reflects what we think we know about history, rather than the actual history itself. It is what the comedian Stephen Colbert called ‘truthiness’ in truth’s stead. The problems start within the first five seconds of the film. The filmmakers set the narrative tone for the entire series with an epigraph – stark white letters centred against a black background:

Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.

Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky.

It is the prohibition that makes anything precious.

– Mark Twain

Direct. Eloquent. Authoritative. Damning. The framing is clear: temperance activists are the bad guys, ‘fanatics’ hellbent on changing other people’s habits who are dumb enough to ‘never learn’ the most obvious lessons staring them right in the face. The problem is that Twain never really said that. Instead, it is a mosaic of unconnected quotes, spanning different works of fiction and nonfiction over the years.

‘Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits’ comes from Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894): Twain’s serialised novel about race, slavery and small-town religion. ‘Fanatics will never learn that …’ was scrawled in Twain’s travel notebook while in London in November 1896 as he extolled the virtues of ‘temperate temperance’. And ‘it is the prohibition that makes anything precious’ came 11 months earlier while in India, as Twain ruminated about Adam, Eve and forbidden fruit during his visit to Allahabad.

When stitched together, they make for a compelling framework for what we feel to be true about temperance and prohibitionism. In the 11 years since the release of the TV series, nobody seems to have noticed this. Still, the epigraph sets the stage for what’s to come. Burns and Novick are gifted storytellers, and every story needs conflict – heroes versus villains, good guys versus bad guys. They’ve cast prohibitionists as the bad guys, as they so often are when prohibition is remembered: hard-headed fanatics intent on dictating ‘other people’s habits’ in a manner most undemocratic and un-American.

The key to really understanding temperance and prohibition history can be boiled down to one word: traffic. Generations of social reformers and activists – both in the United States and around the world – focused not on the alcohol in the bottle, nor on ‘other people’s habits’, but on what they called ‘the liquor traffic’: unscrupulous sellers who got people hopelessly addicted to liquor for their own profit. The difference between opposing liquor and the liquor traffic is subtle, but hugely important. Liquor is just the stuff in the bottle, but trafficking is about profit and predation; like human trafficking, diamond trafficking or the traffic in narcotics and opioids.

The ‘traffic’ gets mentioned only three times in the Prohibition series. In the first minutes, the 19th-century Presbyterian minister Lyman Beecher – who inspired the modern temperance movement with his series of sermons condemning alcohol in 1826 – declares that ‘like slavery, the traffic in ardent spirits must come to be regarded as sinful.’ After that, the traffic – the thing prohibition was all about – all but disappears from the Prohibition documentary.

Beecher’s Six Sermons on Intemperance (1827) are often credited with kick-starting temperance, though not because they were ‘eloquent’, as Prohibition suggests. Rhetorically, they were pretty unremarkable. Instead, they began an entire social movement by providing a blueprint for action: a boycott to undermine the profit-driven traffic. ‘Let the consumer do his duty,’ Beecher suggested to his temperance followers, ‘and the capitalist, finding his employment unproductive, will quickly discover other channels of useful enterprise.’ Rather than invoking Biblical tales of drunken sinners, Beecher’s Sermons repeatedly cite one verse in particular: Habakkuk 2:9-16: ‘Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunk also.’ From its very inception, then, temperance was a movement for economic justice and community betterment, rather than a gaggle of religious cranks as they’re more conventionally portrayed.

Prohibition articulates the conventional narrative, as the voiceover by Peter Coyote proclaims that America’s prohibition experience ‘would raise questions about the proper role of government’ and ‘who is – and who is not – a real American’. The framework is clear: the ‘drys’ are the bad guys, and the ‘wets’ are the true patriots, fully exercising their freedom to drink.

In building their case about the ubiquity of booze in early America, Burns and Novick then line up some of the greatest leaders in US history. Yet painting them as pro-liquor patriots requires a very selective reading of the historical record. ‘For most of the nation’s history, alcohol was at least as American as apple pie,’ Prohibition’s narrator explains:

At Valley Forge, George Washington did his best to make sure his men had half a cup of rum every day, and a half a cup of whiskey when the rum ran out … Thomas Jefferson collected fine French wines and dreamed of a day when American vineyards could match them … Young Abraham Lincoln sold whiskey by the barrel from his grocery store in New Salem, Illinois. ‘Intoxicating liquor,’ he later remembered, was ‘used by everybody, repudiated by nobody.’ A young Maryland slave named Frederick Douglass said whiskey made him feel ‘like a president’, self-assured ‘and independent’.

In reality, each of these men – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Douglass and scores more – could rightly be listed among America’s great prohibitionists. But how is that possible? Simple: by again recognising that prohibition was not about the stuff in the bottle, but against the predatory capitalism of the liquor traffic.

Did General George Washington ensure that his men had liquor at Valley Forge? Sure. But he also understood that the Quaker colony of Pennsylvania had – at the request of local Native American tribes – a strict prohibition against trafficking the ‘white man’s wicked water’ dating back to William Penn’s Great Law of 1682. That the early colonial Pennsylvania was arguably spared the bloody Indian Wars that plagued the other colonies is credited to the justice and fair play between colonisers and natives embodied in the Quaker prohibition.

When ragtag militias from across the colonies arrived in Valley Forge in 1777, they often supplemented their meagre provisions by trading their liquor with local tribes in defiance of the Quakers’ prohibition. The backlash was so great that General Washington ordered his own prohibition against liquor trafficking, commanding:

All Persons whatever are forbid selling liquor to the Indians. If any Sutler or soldier shall presume to act contrary to this Prohibition, the former will be dismissed from Camp, and the latter receive severe Corporal Punishment.

Washington also required prohibition to maintain discipline in the ranks. Eleven soldiers in each brigade were charged ‘to seize the liquors they may find in the unlicensed tippling-houses’ and ‘notify the inhabitants or persons living in the vicinity of camp that an unconditional seizure will be made of all liquors they shall presume to sell in the future.’ During the Continental Army’s military campaigns, any . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2022 at 2:00 pm

Is It Better to Drink Little Alcohol Than None? Do Any Benefits Outweigh Risks?

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Full disclosure: I will, on occasion — if it is an occasion, such as Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner or the like — have a drink, but I drink rarely. That was not always true, but I’ve drifted into not drinking and I now enjoy the feeling that results. 

The following video is particularly interesting in the light of a report in the NY Times (gift link, no paywall), “Drink Up, Japan Tells Young People. I’ll Pass, Many Reply.” The blurb seems outright astonishing to me: 

The country’s tax agency, hoping to reverse the alcohol industry’s pandemic doldrums, is holding a contest to encourage more drinking among the young.

I wonder whether cigarette sales are down, and if they would then encourage young people to take up smoking.

Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 11:04 am

Alcoholics Anonymous is the most effective path to alcohol abstinence

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For a long time there were no studies on the efficacy of Alcoholics Anonymous because the organization’s insistence on anonymity meant that studies involving individual members were impossible. Apparently that changed, as Mandy Ericson reports for Stanford Medicine. The report begins:

Alcoholics Anonymous, the worldwide fellowship of sobriety seekers, is the most effective path to abstinence, according to a comprehensive analysis conducted by a Stanford School of Medicine researcher and his collaborators.

After evaluating 35 studies — involving the work of 145 scientists and the outcomes of 10,080 participants — Keith Humphreys, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and his fellow investigators determined that AA was nearly always found to be more effective than psychotherapy in achieving abstinence. In addition, most studies showed that AA participation lowered health care costs.

AA works because it’s based on social interaction, Humphreys said, noting that members give one another emotional support as well as practical tips to refrain from drinking. “If you want to change your behavior, find some other people who are trying to make the same change,” he said.

The review was published March 11 in Cochrane Database of Systematic ReviewCochrane requires its authors to undertake a rigorous process that ensures the studies represented in its summaries are high-quality and the review of evidence is unbiased.

Cochrane Reviews are the gold standard in medicine for integration of all the research about a particular intervention,” Humphreys said. “We wanted to do this work through Cochrane because of its rigor and reputation.”

The other co-authors are a researcher from Harvard Medical School and a researcher from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Though well-known, AA faces skepticism

Although AA is well-known and used by millions around the world, mental health professionals are sometimes skeptical of its effectiveness, Humphreys said. Psychologists and psychiatrists, trained to provide cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy to treat patients with alcohol-use disorder, can have a hard time admitting that the lay people who run AA groups do a better job of keeping people on the wagon.

Early in his career, Humphreys said, he dismissed AA, thinking, “How dare these people do things that I have all these degrees to do?”

Humphreys noted that counseling can be designed to facilitate engagement with AA — what he described as “an extended, warm handoff into the fellowship.” For the review article, Humphreys and his colleagues evaluated both AA and 12-step facilitation counseling.

AA began in 1935 when two men in Akron, Ohio, were searching for a way to stay sober; they found it by forming a support group. They later developed the 12 steps, the first being accepting one’s inability to control drinking; the last, helping others sustain sobriety by becoming a sponsor of a new member. The AA model — open to all and free — has spread around the globe, and AA now boasts over 2 million members in 180 nations and more than 118,000 groups.

Though the fellowship has been around for more than eight decades, researchers have only recently developed good methods to measure its effectiveness, Humphreys said.

For the Cochrane review, the researchers found 57 studies on AA; of those, 35 passed their rigorous criteria for quality. The studies used various methods to measure AA’s effectiveness on alcohol use disorder: the length of time participants abstained from alcohol; the amount they reduced their drinking, if they continued drinking; the consequences of their drinking; and health care costs.

AA shines

Most of the studies that measured abstinence found AA was significantly better than other interventions or no intervention. In one study, it was found to be 60% more effective. None of the studies found AA to be less effective.

In the studies that measured outcomes other than complete abstinence, AA was found to be . . .

Continue reading.

When I was young, an older person who had struggled with alcohol told me, “Alcohol is tricky,” and went on to talk about how easily people deceive themselves about their drinking. I listened because one of my grandfathers had been an alcoholic. He died before my first birthday, so I never knew him, but having it in the family, so to speak, has always made me wary. And I think alcohol is sneaky.

The information about AA is interesting. Glad they finally could do studies. Knowledge is ever so much better than ignorance, even well-intentioned ignorance.

Written by Leisureguy

30 April 2022 at 2:31 pm

Ancient Beer Is Craft’s New Frontier

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Sara Toth Stub, a journalist living in Jerusalem, writes in Sapiens of the modern brewing of ancient beers — and the article has a local angle, with one of the beers brewed just up-island in Nanaimo:

One morning in May 2019, a crowd of journalists gathered around the Biratenu bar in Jerusalem, snapping photos as a bartender poured golden, frothy beer into plastic cups. The story of the beer was both new and very old: The yeast that fermented it came from a 3,000-year-old jug found at a nearby archaeological site.

It’s actually a pretty good beer,” says Aren Maeir, an archaeology professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the director of excavations at the site of Tell es-Safi. Scholarly, but determined that archaeology should be fun, Maeir, upon first tasting the beer, joked that as long as no one died from it, it would be a successful project.

Maeir and his colleagues found the jug at the Tell es-Safi site. Three millennia ago, the Philistines, a Mediterranean seafaring people, lived in the area and created and used such ceramic ware.

Archaeologists had assumed the jug was for beer because it had a strainer component, consisting of small holes between the container’s main compartment and its spout. This feature could have filtered out bits of grain left over from the fermentation process.

To investigate further, Maeir joined a team of biologists, other archaeologists, and a brewer who isolated yeasts from several ancient yeast colonies discovered within jugs from Tell es-Safi and three other sites in Israel that ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians had inhabited or controlled. They then used these microorganisms to make different types of beer and mead, a few of which they unveiled during a press conference at the Biratenu bar. The scientific team concurred that the one made with the yeast colony from the Philistine jug was the best tasting. In fact, that species of yeast is still used in commercial beer today.

These beverages were the first brews crafted from an ancient yeast colony. This feat demonstrated that the microorganisms driving fermentation had managed to reproduce and survive for thousands of years. It also settled any debate over the vessels’ purpose—confirming that the jugs with strainers once stored beer for the Philistines some three millennia ago.

But this re-creation is just one among many recent archaeological projects dedicated to the study of beer. Boosted heavily by the current popularity of craft beer in many countries, the archaeology of beer is now generating surprising insights into the past all over the world.

These investigations have led to many creative collaborations. Half a world away from Maeir and his team in Israel, archaeologist Marie Hopwood, of Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, Canada, collaborates with Love Shack Libations brewery to re-create ancient beers based on archaeological evidence. “Beer is telling us about everything from gender roles to agriculture,” Hopwood says.

Indeed, multiple breweries are now making beer inspired by ancient beverages, often in cooperation with archaeologists who want to learn more about how people used various ingredients centuries ago. In the process, these efforts may illuminate big questions about shifts in human societies and cultures.

Communities have been drinking beer for thousands of years for nutritional, social, medicinal, and religious reasons. During many periods of history, beer, like other alcoholic beverages, offered a safe

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2022 at 12:31 pm

Georgia Gold and my post-walk smoothie

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George Gold Combo Pack

I blogged earlier about my walk today, after which I felt pleasantly energized, and so I walked to the supermarket to pick up some things for a smoothie. 

Georgia Gold

One ingredient I want to mention in particular: Georgia Gold Turmeric Puree. The Eldest gave me a packet of Georgia Gold Turmeric Powder, and after I tried it and read more about it, I ordered both the powder and the puree. I mix a teaspoon of the powder in my breakfast bowl (grain, greens, beans, other vegetables) along with a tablespoon of ground flaxseed and about a teaspoon of ground black pepper. (Pepperine helps absorption of curcumin from the turmeric.) Turmeric, as the Cleveland Clinic notes, has quite a few health benefits.

The smoothie

The smoothies I make vary depending on what’s on hand. My smoothie tonight began with putting the following into the beaker that came with my immersion blender:

• 2-3 Tbsp redskin peanuts (unsalted)
• 2 Tbsp cooked intact whole grain khorasan wheat (from the fridge)
• 2 Tbsp cooked brown lentils (from the fridge)
• 1 tsp Georgia Gold turmeric puree
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp Bragg’s nutritional yeast
• 1 tsp alma (indian gooseberry powder)
• 1/2 tsp ground cloves
• 2 tsp dried mint
• 2 tsp ground black pepper (for turmeric)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 large jalapeño cut into segments
• 1 Meyer lemon, ends cut off and discarded, cut into pieces (with peel)
• 1/2 avocado, cut into chunks
• 1 cup frozen mixed berries
• 2 Medjool dates, pitted
• room-temperature tea — enough to not quite cover the above

The tea I used I had steeped this morning (in a 25-oz teapot) using:

• 1 Tbsp hibiscus tea,
• 1 Brassica tea bag,
• 1 Tbsp Murchie’s Turmeric Elixir, and
• about 2 tsp ground black pepper

The smoothie required only some of the tea; the remainder I’m drinking now as iced tea.

I used my immersion blender, and the resulting smoothie was just the right consistency: thick but drinkable — and extremely tasty.

Those who have read How Not to Die, by Michael Greger MD, will understand the reasons for the various ingredients. 


Written by Leisureguy

27 March 2022 at 6:34 pm

Brassica Tea and me

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The Eldest recently gave me (and others) some Brassica Tea. From the link:

Brassica® Tea with TrueBroc® is a delicious, gourmet tea with 15 milligrams of TrueBroc® from broccoli added to each tea bag. The natural antioxidant found in broccoli and broccoli sprouts has been shown to last longer than Vitamin C, E, and A in removing free radicals from our bodies.  TrueBroc® activates the body’s own natural antioxidant defense system, including Phase 2 detoxification enzymes.

According to abundant evidence, consuming the phytochemical glucoraphanin – a key active ingredient found in broccoli – provides many benefits associated with strengthening and maintaining a healthy immune function. Glucoraphanin is the active ingredient in TrueBroc®. When TrueBroc® is ingested, myrosinase in our gut bacteria hydrolyzes it to Sulphoraphane.

An abundance of evidence shows the major role of SF in promoting and maintaining immune health. Wide-spectrum antioxidant support for immune health. Supported Claims:

• Delivers powerful antioxidant protection,
• Delivers immune system-boosting antioxidants,
• Protects DNA from damage ,
• Helps fight against free radicals,
• Provides long-lasting antioxidant protection (as long as 72 hours or 3 days),
• Provides persistent antioxidant activity, and
• Protects all aerobic cells in the body (whole body protection)

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of all Brassica® Teas with TrueBroc® is donated to The Brassica Foundation for biomedical research on vegetables. Brassica® Teas are the only teas on the market with TrueBroc® and are patented and licensed by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. They are available in 7 varieties, 3 of which are decaffeinated.  Our Tea Bags are made from Oxygen Whitened Paper, and Do Not Contain any Plastic or Microplastics.  Kosher Certified by Star K.

I include Brassica Tea (along with hibiscus tea and Murchie’s Turmeric Elixir) when I make my pot of tea that I will drink as iced tea during the afternoon and evening.

I’ve tried only the Black Tea version, and it tastes just like regular black tea.

Written by Leisureguy

27 March 2022 at 10:26 am

The Business of Beer Back When

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Anton Howes writes in The Age of Invention:

1620 was a dramatic year for England. As I mentioned last time, the rashness of the king’s son-in-law threatened to pull the country into a major European conflict. Religion, honour, and family — James I’s grandchildren were set to lose their inheritance, the Palatinate of the Rhine — dictated that the king should break his decades-long habit of peace. But war was hugely expensive, and the king already heavily in debt. He was forced to summon Parliament so that it could vote him the taxes he would need to wage war.

Parliament was already a major source of annoyance to James I. After 1610, he had done everything in his power to rule without its aid, at one point even comparing its lower house, the Commons, to a “House of Hell”. Yet the MPs of 1610 would come to seem almost angelic compared to those who assembled in Westminster in 1621. The Commons of 1621 would get completely out of control — all thanks to beer.

Beer (and ale, made without hops) was the most important source of calories after bread, and the first choice for hydration — cheaper than wine and safer than water, with coffee, tea, and spirits only becoming popular much later. It financially supported inns, the crucial infrastructure for travellers. Alehouses also provided a major focal point for socialising. If you controlled beer, you controlled society — second only, perhaps, to religion.

If beer was too strong, it could lead to drunkenness and unrest. If inns went unpoliced, they could become havens for criminals, heretics, sinners, and rebels. If brewers used too much malt, made from grains like barley, they could drive up the price of bread and cause famine. If beer-brewers demanded too many hops — used as both a preservative and a source of bitterness compared to sweeter ale — they could also put pressure on otherwise scarce land for food. Regulating the drinks industry correctly was thus a major priority for those in charge.1

The making and selling of ale had originally been dominated by brewsters — that is, by female brewers.2 (Compare with the more persistent word spinster, to mean a woman who spins thread. Spinning remained women’s work long after the brewsters had been driven out of their industry. Only later, because of the independence that earning one’s own money brought, did spinster come gain the more general meaning of a woman who was unmarried.) Meanwhile, hopped beer had been the preserve of immigrants. As one popular ditty put it, “Hops, Reformation, baize, and beer, Came into England all in one year”, though it had actually happened more gradually over the course of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.3

Yet with population growth, and the dramatic expansion of London in particular, the market drinks market became larger and more concentrated, while hop-less ale gave ground to the rise of beer. Male, English ale-brewers seized an opportunity to suppress their competition. London’s Ale Brewers’ Guild, for example, abandoned the use of hucksters — predominantly female ale-sellers — and then in 1556 absorbed the Beer-Brewers’ Guild, which had largely consisted of immigrants. The newly-amalgamated Worshipful Company of Brewers then barred immigrants from becoming members, while the English ale-brewers switched to producing beer. In 1574, they even successfully lobbied for the city to bar foreigners from being members of any guilds at all, including even second-generation immigrants born in England.4 The bigger the business, the more ruthless it became.

And the more ripe it appeared to policymakers, as a potential source of revenue. From the 1550s, local authorities regularly raised money from the beer industry via the Justices of the Peace, who sold licenses for alehouses, shutting down or imposing fines on those they deemed too disruptive to the social order — or perhaps just those who fell afoul of corrupt local powerbrokers. Alehouse licencing became an important plank of local government.

Yet the drinks industry’s growth also drew the attention of the central state, which at the time meant the Crown. In 1570, Elizabeth I had granted the courtier Sir Edward Horsey a controversial patent to license taverns, which specialised in selling wine. The patent had then gone to her favourite Sir Walter Raleigh in 1583. The Crown had also taken a census of almost 20,000 alehouses in the late 1570s, in an unsuccessful bid to raise cash for the big English infrastructure project of the age, the rebuilding of Dover harbour. But under James I the Crown would significantly step-up its efforts to directly control alehouses, taverns, and inns (in rough modern terms: pubs, wine bars, and hotels).

In 1604, MPs would try to get the licensing of taverns brought under local control, much as was the case with alehouses. They would try again in 1606, 1610, and 1614. But their bills never made it past the House of Lords, and the patent soon went to Charles Howard, the earl of Nottingham, and then to his son. Tavern licensing could be especially lucrative. A syndicate of courtier-bureaucrats paid the Howards a gigantic sum of £3,000 a year to administrate the patent for them, keeping any additional revenue from licence fees for itself. But enforcement was difficult, with many wine retailers simply refusing to pay.5

With taverns and wine, licensing had always been in the hands of the Crown. But beer had long been a local matter, and inns not licensed at all. The Crown at first began to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 February 2022 at 5:00 pm

Like coffee? Want to know more about brewing coffee? Have I got a YouTube channel for you.

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Take a look at this channel. Here’s a sample:

Written by Leisureguy

10 January 2022 at 6:54 pm

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