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Beer Added To The Food Pyramid 393

Alehound writes " Beer Is Food: The US Government labeled beer(alcohol) as a drug, begs to differ as they inform their reader that beer can be a part of your diet in a healthy way. Beer does a body good? So the "Beer Gut" is a myth? So why the hell do I have a gut? And yes these guys do drink beer for breakfast." It's only 10 in the morning, I'm dumping out the half pot of coffee left, and cracking open a Boddingtons! Do it!
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Beer Added To The Food Pyramid

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  • mhm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tirel ( 692085 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:18AM (#6599569)
    So why the hell do I have a gut? Just a thought but, do you sit in your chair from dusk till dawn? That could it be you know.
    • Re:mhm (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mod Me God ( 686647 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:26AM (#6599601)
      That article is a load of BS.

      For example "And for the record, beer is not fattening" - yeah right, any absorbton of calories above what are expended is turned into fat, plain and simple.

      Remember, there are 7 calories per gram of alchohol to consider above the carbs (I think 1 pint/550ml of beer has around 200 calories in total).

      The simple truth is, a balanced diet, mixed exercise and sufficient rest are the way to health. If you have these, beer shouldn't matter.

      Oh, I won't even go into their "hops can also be found in teas" BS - only in poncy flavoured teas. Tea leaves are the only ingredient of tea.

    • Bingo (Score:4, Insightful)

      by twoallbeefpatties ( 615632 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:52AM (#6599730)
      There's nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. It's more the amount of activity you put into it. You don't do much more than sit around when you binge drink. Do marathon runners get tossed a bottle of Aquafina or a can of Blue Ribbon?
  • WooHoo (Score:3, Funny)

    by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:18AM (#6599571)
    Finally I have a chance of getting to the top of something !!
  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:18AM (#6599572) Journal
    I've decided to try one beer with each type of cereal I have in my cabinet. I can honestly say that my cereal is MUCH better with beer!
    • by error502 ( 694533 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:28AM (#6599619)
      You should try adding beer to your beer. Mmm... double the beer goodness. If one beer is healthy, are two beers twice as healthy? ...What about twelve?
      • There is quite likely a limit, and only one way o find out. Test, test, and test again! I recommend a particularly inefficient test, start with one or two, and add one a day. This may not take increased tolerance into account, but should get particlaurly enjoyable after the first week or two.
    • Founding Fathers (Score:5, Informative)

      by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:50AM (#6599718) Homepage Journal
      A friend who researched the education of the founding fathers [] (she spent a ton of time reading diaries, etc.) told me that the morning meal for many a US patriot was a cup of ale. Apparently the ale they drank was a lot heavier and meal like than what we drink today.

      It makes sense. In the days before chlorinated water and refrigerator, ale would have been one of the more reliable ways of preserving foods.
  • by mfchater ( 681560 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:20AM (#6599579) Homepage Journal
    So are we going to start seeing the fancy labels which are on all the other foods? I wonder what they will consider the recommended serving size? Personaly,I would like to see them use 6 cans as the RDA.
    • by bourne ( 539955 )

      So are we going to start seeing the fancy labels which are on all the other foods?

      Nope. The BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) will not allow brewers to put anything that might be (correctly or incorrectly) intepreted as health information. The Yakima Brewery in Washington had to deal with ATF harrassment [] when they had the temerity to list calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol, sodium and potassium.

  • (Score:5, Informative)

    by Enry ( 630 ) <enry.wayga@net> on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:22AM (#6599586) Journal
    I actually found a good use for budweiser. Not for drinking, but for cooking. You can make a real good gravy using 1/2 part bud and 1/2 part stock (chicken or beef).

    Otherwise, make mine Guiness or Sam Adams. Aside from unfiltered beers or home brew, beer does not contain any yeast, and the carbonation is a result of injecting CO2 into the beer before capping it. You'll know if there's yeast in it if you find crunchies at the bottom of the bottle.

    Oh yea, beer is just mostly empty carbs. Almost no nutritional value. At best, I'd put it down in the same category as 'snack food'.
    • Aside from unfiltered beers or home brew, beer does not contain any yeast, and the carbonation is a result of injecting CO2 into the beer before capping it.
      Actually, this should be rewritten as
      aside from American Beers, all contain yeast and are loaded with nutritional value
      Truth is that is commercial american beers (and ones sold to our markets) that have no real redeeming value other than a bit of a taste and an expensive drunk. Funny enough, well drinks are actually cheaper for getting drunk with
      • Other than Coors beer, all the commercial beers contain the same alcohol as a 3.2 beer.

        Wrong! In some states, beers are limited to 3.2%, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Even in Alabama, I can go to the grocery store and buy A-B's Natural Ice, which is 5.9%. Of course, it tastes like ass, but that wasn't the point. Oh, and I can't go buy it today, because the stores can't sell alcohol on Sundays unless I drive to another county. But that wasn't the point either.

        By the way, what would have
    • (Score:5, Informative)

      by Matey-O ( 518004 ) <> on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:46AM (#6599700) Homepage Journal
      Boil the brauts in bud and onions, grill for a couple a minutes on the grill:

      No second guessing if the brauts are cooked all the way though and it tastes GREAT!
      • Boil the brauts in bud and onions, grill for a couple a minutes on the grill:

        No second guessing if the brauts are cooked all the way though and it tastes GREAT!

        Isn't this the part where you're supposed to tell me than "Johnsonville is Heaven on a Bun...?"

        Just asking...
    • by marko123 ( 131635 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:12AM (#6599841) Homepage
      Oh yea, beer is just mostly empty carbs. Almost no nutritional value. At best, I'd put it down in the same category as 'snack food'.

      Not sure where you are from, but in Australia, beer seems to put back in all the things beer leaches from my body - carbs, vitamins, essential minerals... and if you can combine it with greasy food, you have basically completely reversed any ill effects from the night before, come out ahead, and got the girl (even if she isn't so pretty now)...

      Sorry about that rant. It's 1am and I just got home from the pub. Um, I look at this in the morning and maybe clarify a few things...

      Cheers, mate!
  • by Magic Thread ( 692357 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:24AM (#6599597) Homepage Journal
    Alcohol, on the other hand, is. That's an important distinction.
    Of course beer is a beverage, as the majority of its composition is water; however, given that it's also made with cereal grains, hops and yeast, all of this combined goodness is oftentimes a meal in itself.
    So why don't you drink water and eat cereal and yeast? It seems like that would be a much more healthy breakfast.
  • by xinot ( 98923 ) * on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:24AM (#6599599) Journal
    Is this the same Bods that I get on tap in England? If it is I've got to say that Boddingtons is THE most flavorless beer I've ever had in my life. Period. That stuff SUCKS! I'll drink lager before I'll drink a freakin' Bods. No hop bitterness, no maltiness. Nothing. As soon as I see Boddingtons I know I'll be having a Stella or 1664 or something. Unless there's a nice guest ale...

    Boddingtons. Oh My God.
  • by Zetta Matrix ( 245803 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:26AM (#6599603)
    The FDA determines the proper adult dose for a drug by giving increasingly higher doses to a bunch of rats until 50% of them die.

    I know this because I was told about a supplement that tried to get FDA approval as a drug, but it failed because it could never kill the rats. Therefore it could only be approved as a food (having strange effects on the product's marketability).

    So perhaps the FDA got some rats really drunk and they actually got half of them to die...
  • Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by v_1_r_u_5 ( 462399 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:26AM (#6599604)
    Now I have an excuse when I show up to work drunk...

    "But beer, boss does the body good," I exclaim as I show my boss an upside down picture of the revised food pyramid.
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Funny)

      by MikeFM ( 12491 )
      I used to drink a good sized dose of vodka (or sometimes some hard stuff) before work each day.. just so I could stand to keep going. Not much point in drinking beer.. it takes to many to give you even a slight buzz.. all you end up having to do is pee.
  • um (Score:5, Funny)

    by dema ( 103780 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:26AM (#6599608) Homepage
    What a suprise, is trying to promote beer.

    What does advocate mean again?

    And why is this news on /.?
  • by MyoTechie ( 686211 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:27AM (#6599613) Homepage
    So the "Beer Gut" is a myth?

    Much like a girlfriend if you keep suplementing with the physique enhancing beverage!
  • by xyloplax ( 607967 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:29AM (#6599626)
    The ads for Low-Carb beer show fit-n-healthy folks in the middle of various inviogorating excercises. Alcohol may have some good effects on the body according to recent research, but the ads make beer look like Powerade for chrissake. Moderation is good. Preying on stupidity, suggesting that beer is healthy, is irresponsible.

    On a similar note, I saw a print ad for Bud Light that showed a condensation-covered label; on that label was a strategically-placed water drop that just happened to make "Budweiser" look like "Bloweiser". Yeah right, just a coincidence. And no, I wan't looking for it.
  • by tigre ( 178245 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:32AM (#6599646)
    Unfrotunately, beer does itself contribute to the beer belly. It's not just a matter of how much carbs something has but what kind of carbs they are. Beer has maltose, which is actually one of the more troublesome carbs because it is digested quickly, spikes your blood sugar level quickly and brings with it an associated spike in insulin, which then brings your blood sugar level down low, and makes you hungrier. So, it is in fact the other stuff that makes you fat, but the beer often contributes to your wanting the other stuff. Different types of beer have different elements which modify the digestion process, so the effect varies. A nice stout seems to fill me up quite nicely, so it must have something going for it. But I have lost 25 pounds on my low-carb diet, so until I reach my target weight, I'm gonna hold back on the Guinness.
    • Beer SHOULDN'T have maltose...wort definitely, beer no (or at least such a very small amount that you could say none). Afterall, like you said, maltose is a very quickly digested sugar but that also applies to yeast. The majority of the carbohydrates in a beer come from dextrins or other starches, not simple sugars.
    • Beer also contibutes to "bitch tits". Seriously. The alcohol helps the body convert testosterone to estrogen. Men do actually have many of the same glands that femail brests have and the increased estrogen can change the shape of them.

    • Beer made from Hops contain estrogens (plant derived). The estrogen content tends to influence your body to store more fat. The herb, hops, by itself has a 'relaxing effect' in herbal medicine, and, BTW, is in the same family as the cannibis plant -- a family noted as 'advanced' as it has two sexes. I'm not familiar with maltose or how much it is used in beer production, so I can't comment on how much it contributes, but herbal books will warn that phytoestrogens in hops can cause fat to be deposited int
  • Maybe... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jherubin ( 165175 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:41AM (#6599671)
    So why the hell do I have a gut?

    Maybe because when you drink beer it's 6-10 at a time and you sit at a desk all day. In large amounts these calories add up.

    I doubt that a semi-active person that has a couple beers here and there would get a gut from drinking this tasty beverage. In moderation, beer, just like soda, will not make you fat.
  • appetite (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fredopalus ( 601353 )
    You have a gut, not because of the beer, but what you eat with it. Beer stimulates your appetite. Read about it here [].
  • .

    Well, DUH !

  • Does... (Score:5, Funny)

    by stubblehead ( 565808 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:44AM (#6599686)
    "...whiskey count as beer?"
    • "...whiskey count as beer?"

      Actually, whiskey is essentially the same as beer. Just substitute soot for the hops, then concentrate the final product by a factor of 10.

  • by Nicolas MONNET ( 4727 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [avitlaocin]> on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:44AM (#6599691) Journal
    Q: What's common to American beer and love in a canoe?



    A: It's fucking near water!
  • My 0.02 (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:45AM (#6599693)
    Try saving the nature:

    Save water -- Drink beer
  • For that matter... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dR.fuZZo ( 187666 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:47AM (#6599705)
    Why the heck don't beer, wine, and liquor have to have the nutriton information label on them like all food does in the U.S.?
  • BTW, you should always pour Boddington's ale into a glass, so that you can see the gorgeous upside-down cascade effect of the foamy bubbles.
  • Home Brewers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kongjie ( 639414 ) <kongjie.mac@com> on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:51AM (#6599724)
    I imagine there must be a good number of home brewers among the /. nerdus maximus population. If you have done any substantial home brewing (and by substantial I mean beyond the kits that even the malls have offered), you'll know that beer is indeed food.

    It can be a wonderfully complex process and by learning it you are taking part in a time-honored tradition. Plus, you get cheap, good drink.

    • This is indeed true.

      Especially if you do not use the "liquid" malt kits as you mentioned.

      The combination of malt, water, hops and yeast is all that is really needed to create beer. It just happens that alcohol is a "by product" of the process. Not that there's anything wrong with that :-)

      You'll also note that in trying to create stronger beers, they usually turn out tasting only "so so" if you're lucky. Beer is meant to be somewhere in the range of 4%-6% alcohol maximum.

      If you want something even mor
  • Well, in that case "food" lovers in the UK should make a bee-line to the Great British Beer Festival [] (Here's the google cache [], as the site's been a bit flaky the last day or two).

    It starts this Tuesday at London's Olympia, and in previous years is said to be the largest pub in the world in terms of selection of beer, and IIRC, number of customers :)

    See you there :-)

  • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:53AM (#6599733) Homepage Journal

    I've been told by my older and wiser elders that drinking a guinness per day provides protection from impotence.

    I also notice that people who drink a couple of glasses of beer each day live longer. I know people who are 80, 90, 100 years old and still drinking, so it must be healthy if people can drink for 100 years with no side effects.

    Just dont drink too much.
    • Consider cause and effect. It may be that people with excellent biochemistry live longer, and as a side effect they can continue to drink beer. People with bad biochemistry may have shorter life expectancy associated with lower alcohol tolerance. You would need to do some rather intrusive tests on identical twins for a very long time to make an open and shut case.
  • Can't remember which ad this came from. Probably a German breakfast beer
  • How about removing liver from the food pyramid. Think how much it's like beer: tastes bad, and it's full of toxins.

    I'm told (by my brother, the hunter) that fresh moose liver has a mood-altering effect. Small wonder, considering that it's full of chemicals the moose was trying to eliminate ....
  • How the hell can you "crack open" a boddies? It's designed to be drunk from a tap (via a glass if you please).
  • by hopbine ( 618442 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:17AM (#6599881)
    In one episode of 'Cheers', Cliff is seated at the bar describing the
    Buffalo Theory to his buddy, Norm. (I don't think I've ever heard the
    concept explained any better than this....)

    "Well you see, Norm, it's like this... A herd of buffalo can only move as
    fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest
    and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection
    is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the
    whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.
    In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the
    slowest brain cells.

    Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But
    naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this
    way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making
    the brain a faster and more efficient machine. And that, Norm, is why you
    always feel smarter after a few beers."
  • If there is any left for export, they can't really be that good. There is a certain level of production beyond which a real craft beer is just not possible anymore, and if a half decent salesman can't get rid of the lot in a 20 mile radius, something is seriously wrong.

    IANAB-but craft breweries use my software.

  • Sweet, Sweet Beer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ranger ( 1783 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:19AM (#6599895) Homepage
    People used to drink beer because the water was unsafe to drink. Cholera or Beer? You decide.

    Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout is almost a meal in itself. Guinness Stout is pretty darn close too. You might have drink 3 or 4 of them though. Boddington's is an ale but has the same consistency as Guinness. I'm partial to Fat Tire.

    Beer. It's the reason I get up in the afternoon!
  • by shplorb ( 24647 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:23AM (#6599923) Homepage Journal
    Beer is good, beer is great. We all know it, and here are some of the reasons why - I really can't put into words why, it just is:

    • An icy cold one is a great way to relax and refresh yourself after a hard day's work.
    • Having a quiet one down the pub with a couple of mates. (I don't know what the female equivalent of this is.)
    • Having a beer with your dad or brother.
    • A beer with your lunch or dinner. Beer goes well with pretty much any dish.
    • There's so many beers to try.
    • Getting shitfaced.

    Hrmm... there's many more positives to beer. Beer really is a social drink... it's the man's drink. Beer and pubs go together well.

    Contrary to the article though, beer can be fattening... you have to remember that you're only going to put on weight if Ein != Eout - the body processes sugars and carbohydrates are broken down into sugars before being processed - that's why carbohydrates are a long-term energy source and sugary things like fruit and chocolate are short-term energy sources.

    Six schooners have enough energy to run your average male for day. So drink in moderation and make sure to keep up the exercise and maintain a balanced diet. (And fat people wonder why they're fat when they eat McDonalds everyday and drive or take the lift everywhere!)

    Finally, an article where my signature is at home! =]
  • Logic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pmfp ( 682203 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:31AM (#6599982)
    Everything is poision in the right amounts. Beer is no different. Matter of fact is that it's loaded with nutritients. As stated, however, in the right amounts it is no longer good for the body. True story: A scientist was once asked what food he would bring to a desert island. What did he answer? Beer. I, on the other hand, suggested to my unit that we should ask our commanders if we could bring a keg out in the field.
  • by passion ( 84900 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:34AM (#6600002)

    There's a rather good explanation for this. Not that I'm defending it, but rather explaining it to understand it and adress it at the root cause.

    Prohibition was a scary time for Americans, particularly breweries - most of which went out of business. Prohibition was created by women marching in the streets, complaining that their husbands had become drunks in the saloons. Who could blame them - during the depression, there weren't many jobs to keep them occupied.

    When prohibition was repealed, the breweries wanted to create beer that would appeal to women, so that they would become consumers and not vote again for prohibition. So they made their beers lighter, and specialized in the lager field that they felt was more approachable for those who weren't accustomed to drinking beer.

    Sadly, America's beer development was stuck on training wheels until about the 80s, when certain individuals started experimenting with brewing their own. This launched a movement where people started becoming more interested in flavor rather than just getting drunk.

    In case you haven't been to this side of the pond recently, there are many wonderful breweries that severly stomp on most European breweries which are stuck doing things the way they did around the time that America was discovered. I'd highly reccomend checking out some of these breweries:

  • Beer (and other forms of alcohol) IS and have been part of a food pyramid for nearly 4 years!

    Some Background For The Uninitiated

    The concept of the Food Pyramid was proposed by researches at the US Department of Agriculture, who needed to convey the idea of a healthy diet (according to the dogma of the time) in terms of proportion, variety and moderation. Thus, the pyramid graphic was presented. The problem is that word, "dogma".

    The USDA is by far not even close to the leading edge of nutrition and dietary research. Their food pyramid represented a diet heavy in breads, with a little less emphasis on fruits and vegetables. Meat was eschewed, as was diary, and fats, oils, and salts were placed at the top of the pyramid to emphasize that they were to be used sparingly.

    Two problems with the Food Pyramid were immediately obvious. First, it ignored contemporary research and accepted medical though which stated that diets high in fish and poultry were beneficial. The USDA assumed that all means were bad because of their high animal fat content. But research at the time (and subsequent) proved that not all fat was bad, and not only was some fat good, but actually necessary. Also, the Food Pyramid didn't differntiate between breads that were healthy (whole grains) and those that were unhealthy (white rice, bleached flour, corn startches, pasta, and processed grains in which the fiber had been stripped chemically). They simply lumped all grains together.

    The second problem was that the food pyramid tried to convey a sense of proportion by giving recommended serving amounts. But these serving amounts were meaningless to the average person. They needed to know what a serving was. Was it a gram, kilo, cup, pound, ounce, or something else?

    Enter the Diet Fads

    Actually, "Fad" diets aren't new. The term is used for just about any new diet which proclaims a principal not accepted in contemporary circles - so fad diets are not inherently bad, but most turn out that way. Fad diets did for Americans what the USDA didn't with thier Food Pyramid or "Four Food Groups" of prior years. It gave people a guide to how much of what should be eaten. The other problem is that these fad diets were targeted towards weight loss. Most of them worked for most people who tried them to some degree, but their failure came when the diet was over. Without a sense of proper nutrition, people reverted to their unhealthy ways of eating. Thus was coined the term "Yo-Yo" dieting, where a person loses weight, then gains it back, and loses it again. This constant state of flux is not healthy, and coupled with the sedantary lifestyle of the average American, it has lead to an epidemic of obesity.

    The word "diet" itself has become synonymous with "trying to lose weight", and likewise has become eschewed by the very diet industry that gave rise to that misconception. Instead, they are using terms like "nutrition system" or "program".

    Fighting Fat With Knowledge

    Enter the molecular biologists, who have put the American diet and the human metabolism under a microscope. Some of the results they have come up with are startling, and have been used to construct a New Food Pyramid [] to counter the USDA's Food Pyramid. A notable development is the recognition that there are cultural differences that prevent a food pyramid for the American diet from being at all practical for other cultures.

    Healthy, as in Beer

    Beer, and other forms of alcohol, were discovered to be healthy in moderation. Moderation, of course, is the key to everything in a diet. A glass of wine daily can reduce risk factors related to heart disease and stroke. Beer was found to have a phytoprotein that actually aids in repairing cardiac muscle tissues. Red wine, long given to Soviet Nuclear Submariners, can protect the body from low levels of ionizing radiation (though potassium iodide is b
  • The Litany (Score:3, Funny)

    by KoshClassic ( 325934 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @12:58PM (#6600436)
    This seems like a good time to recall the Litany Against Beer (repeat after me...)

    I must drink beer.
    Beer is the mind killer.
    Beer is the little death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my beer.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me, and when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    When the beer is gone, there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

    With due credit to the guy who wrote this [], if this is indeed the original.

  • Well duh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shish ( 588640 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @02:14PM (#6600796) Homepage
    > The US Government labeled beer(alcohol) as a drug,

    It affects your body chemistry, so it's a drug

    > beer can be a part of your diet in a healthy way

    yes, it can.

    > begs to differ

    No they don't. The govt say beer is a drug (good drug or bad drug is unspecified), beeradvocate say's it's a good drug.

    Just because something is a drug doesn't mean it can't be healthy :-P So what's the point of this story?
  • by Cordath ( 581672 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @03:07PM (#6601052)
    Now for an alternate take on things... Beer is the root of civilization. Yes, that most lovely of liquids: the Wobbly Pop. Hang on to your brews boys.

    Most traditional archaeologists tend to think of civilization as a sort of ladder, and the first few rungs were actually quite slippery. Here's one possible ladder: (there are several)

    First, if you want to have a town with art, politics, hookers, etc. the first thing you need is a food supply that is reliable and doesn't move around a lot. Deer, elk, tapirs, camels, elephants, etc. all move around most vexingly. Turnips do not. Agriculture seems like the way to go, but first you need a crop to cultivate. 30,000 years ago that wasn't an easy thing to find. Beans, squash, wheat, turnips, you name it, are all highly domesticated plants that we've been selectively breeding for thousands of years. When agriculture was starting out the ancestors of today's crops just weren't that productive. Take corn for example. Today a stalk of corn puts out great big honking cobs chock full of juicy kernals. 30,000 years ago the stuff looked a lot like grass. It is in fact, more than a little bit unlikely that you could have lived off the stuff back then. (more on that later) So if no suitable crops existed, we had to breed one.

    Here we hit a major hang up. Breeding massive changes into plants isn't exactly a speedy process when you *know* what you're doing. How exactly our ancestors ever managed to develop a crop suitable for agriculture is actually quite a hot topic of debate! Still, somehow we managed, but it probably took a while. Even for relatively smart people, it is not inconceivable that this took tens of thousands of years before there was any sort of payoff. So what kept our forefathers going?


    Living off of primitive wild corn would probably have been impossible. However, collecting relatively small ammounts to ferment into chicha (BEER!) for those important social events (religion?) was a much more reasonable undertaking. Of course, excessive beer consumption does tend to make one lazy, so naturally our fastly-becoming-religious ancestors decided to start throwing a bunch of seeds together in one place so they didn't have to look all over the bloody planet to round up enough for a good er... mass. Gradually they tossed the crappier grass out and the better stuff got inbred, mutated all to hell, and gradually become more and more like the corn of today. Eventually, we got a crop good enough to actually become a dietary staple. Someone might then have said "Hey guys! We can eat this stuff too! F@$* this hunter-gatherer walking-around-all-day BS. Let's just stay here all the time. There's BEER!"

    So we have a nice town springing forth from the wilderness. Art, culture, and all the trappings of civilization are flowering forth... and people are shitting in the river. This is baaad. People are getting sick! Fortunately, achohol tends to be safer to drink than brownish water! While the high-proof Canadian beers of today would be a tad difficult to live on, the watered down chicha of the day was just the thing for daily consumption. To this day there are still countries where beer is cheaper than safe drinking water. As a beneficial side effect, people with beer tend to be easier to talk into paying taxes, running off to kill people they've never met before, building pyramids, etc...

    Of course, archaeology itself would be nowhere without beer. Seriously, how many major archaeological digs are carried out without beer? Almost any site that has ever been completely excavated is within a short distance of a pub. Occasionally people mount expeditions into the jungles of Yucatan, etc. to discover these fabulous lost cities. They dig for a bit, the beer runs out, and they go home. To any government officials out there who are trying to get some remote lost city excavated, build a pub next to it. The archaeologists will come.

"Take that, you hostile sons-of-bitches!" -- James Coburn, in the finale of _The_President's_Analyst_