The Case for Common Sense and Alcohol Consumption

We live in a culture where alcohol is still considered somewhat taboo by a certain very vocal minority.  That taboo causes another segment of the population, (also in the minority) to abuse it, ruining it for the majority of us.  The best way to change that is to loosen the restrictions rather than tighten them.  Alcohol consumption can lose it’s stigma by doing one very important thing; demystifying it in the eyes of the youth of this province.

Drinking without parents or adults present can be dangerous and lead to over consumption and abuse.

Most underage drinking happens outside of the watchful eye of parents or other adults, leading to over consumption and the problems associated with it.  The taboo makes it a rite of passage for rebellious teens.  If it weren’t illegal it would be less of a problem. Currently it’s not illegal in Ontario for a homeowner to permit underage drinking in their private home as long as they don’t provide the alcohol.  Which begs the question, if homeowners aren’t providing the alcohol, who is?  Someone out there is breaking the law so this seems to me to be a stupid loop hole.  Why not make it legal for a homeowner or parent to provide their children with alcohol in the home so long as they are present?  If they are buying it they are able to monitor how much is being consumed.

Studies have shown when introduced at an early age, alcohol does not lead to alcoholism or abuse.  In France children drink small amounts of wine at dinner, so it becomes part of the cultural norm for them.  There is less desire by these children to go out and get drunk without parental knowledge. It ceases to be an act of rebellion.  If children know they can try alcohol at home they see it as much less attractive and just part of everyday life.

While in Europe I went out for dinner with a friend and her 14 year old sister.  The 14 year old asked her parents prior to going out if she could have wine with dinner while she was out with us. They said no, not because they were opposed to her drinking, but because they preferred she had wine at home with them where they could better monitor her consumption.  She respected her parents wishes and drank cola all night.

Beer and wine are sold on the beaches in Europe and consumed responsibly.

This is the same country that allows people to drink a half litre mug on the beach or walk with a bottle of it in the streets as they browse the shops of town.  There is a responsibility inherent in the culture because it isn’t forbidden, common sense actually prevails in the vast majority of cases.  One only has to look to the failure of prohibition to see that legal restrictions don’t remove the social problems associated with over consumption, they only drive them underground where they cannot be monitored safely.

Countries like Germany and France are older and wiser than Ontario and really do know better.  We should follow the example of cultures with far more experience and demystify alcohol and reform the culture that surrounds it.  Liberalized alcohol laws make society a more accountable and responsible place, one that the temperance movement would eventually see is also a better place.


More Evolved Cultures & How They Enjoy Alcohol

Salad, pita, tzatziki and Alfa Lager.

Having just recently returned from a trip to Europe, I couldn’t help notice how much different alcohol consumption over there.  The emphasis there is on enjoying alcohol with food in the company of others.  In some countries they won’t serve you alcohol without a snack to go with it, usually peanuts or chips, although it is traditionally served with grilled meats and fish. Drinking in these cultures is something to be enjoyed not feared.  Most people there do not drink alcohol on it’s own just for the sake of drinking – it’s not the cultural norm. Wine and beer are best when paired with food, especially when the pairing is an informed one.  Europeans appear to have the knowledge of what food pairs best with what drink, because it is passed on from generation to generation.

Here in North America, we are lucky enough to have a world of culinary choices available to us, but we may not have generations of knowledge to rely on to make a good pairing.  This may have lead to the drinking culture we have and the abuse that can accompany it. As a society we haven’t been brought up to enjoy alcohol the way it was intended to be, with food and friends.  In the dark days following prohibition, beer could only be consumed in bars with blacked out windows and no food whatsoever.  Our society had it completely wrong and continued to treat drinking like it was something to be embarrassed about and hidden away.  The pairing of food and drink was lost for many generations as we endured a drinking “dark ages”. But things are changing for the better.  We are becoming more educated and new experiences are opening up for alcohol in this province. Fortunately Ontario now has growing ranks of sommeliers for both beer and wine who are more than happy to suggest great food pairings for your favourite alcoholic beverage.

If you drink this beer, this bikini clad woman will like you.

So why is alcohol so vilified in Ontario? Mostly because of the aforementioned prohibition hangover.  Drinking was considered a parasitic practice and needed to be separated from everything.  We have taken a long time to get past that and it hasn’t been helped by advertising from some big beer companies, who continue to fuel the myth that you can get bikini clad babes to magically appear because you drink a certain brand of light beer.

Craft beer and wine drinkers are a different breed of drinker.  Flavour is important and so is food pairing.  It just isn’t about getting drunk, although it does happen, it is tempered greatly by the food being consumed.  The craft beer segment is growing every year, which means our society is maturing and emerging from its long dark time and the liquor laws should be modernized to reflect this renaissance.  Craft beer and wine stores should be legalized in Ontario.