Food and Beer

The domain thing has been decided.  Thanks for all the suggestions.  Stay tuned for news in the coming weeks.

Last night, I watched the most fascinating show on the History Channel about the Little Ice Age.  I was less interested in what ramifications the study of this weather phenomenon has on our modern climate changes (although that was interesting, too), than I was about the interesting food factoids they threw out.

The Irish did not adopt the potato as a food staple until they were starving due to the inability to grow much of anything else.  And I’d thought theyd always grown them there.

Even more fascinating is this:  During the great warming period before the Little Ice Age,  vinyards existed as far north as England.  Southern Europe (especially France) was appalled, but apparently there were some very good wines coming out of northern Europe. That is, until the Little Ice Age.  When it got too cool to grow grapes in the north, the people got the alcohol fix with what they had:  beer (or ale, as it were) and hard liquor. 

And guess who first emigrated to America?  Northern Europeans.  Apparently, that explains why a vast majority of Americans drink beer and liquor instead of wine.  There was one quote that I’ll have to paraphrase:  only about 20% of Americans drink wine, and most of those are on the two coasts.  Everybody else that drinks alcohol drinks beer or liquor.

Now, the concentration of wine drinkers on the two coasts would be an interesting subject to study (the program didn’t say why it was).  It could be that’s where the southern Europeans settled when they emigrated, or it could be that weird dynamic where the two coasts have always had a little bit of Europe envy.  There you will find all the trappings: a more “enlightened” view of sexuality, high taxes, population density, mass transit, wine drinking.

But, enough amateur sociology.  Bridgett probably knows the answer, but she’s on vacation. 

But, I found it interesting how just a small shift in climate can affect human behavior for centuries.

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5 Responses to “Food and Beer”

  1. Paul Says:

    Good luck with the certification exam.. I thought this post was very funny… you’re a good writer.

  2. Rachel Says:

    What? You didn’t like my suggestion? 🙂 Let us know when it’s ready for public consumption!

  3. Home Ec 101 » Blog Archive » Monday, Monday Says:

    […] Slarti, the unofficial Mr. Home-Ec 101 (no, neither of us are married to him, that’s what makes him unofficial) pontificates on why Americans love beer and liquor but not wine. […]

  4. nm Says:

    Cost. Alcoholic (or any) beverages (or anything else, in fact) are costly to transport by land. The earliest US wineries, in New York, couldn’t transport their products far. And their wines, due to climate conditions, were far inferior to European wines. Which could be transported to the coasts (by water) relatively cheaply, but which suffered from the same distribution problems in the interior.

    The development of California as an important wine-producing region (with a climate much better suited to viticulture than that of upstate New York) is slowly leading to changes. Wine is still ridiculously expensive to ship, but (most) California wines are so much cheaper than European wines of the same quality that drinkable and affordable wines are now more widely available.

    BTW, I don’t know how the program you saw defined the Little Ice Age, but by most definitions viticulture in northern Europe stopped about 350 years before it started.


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