We’re Number One! Go Ahead, Have Another. :-(

Well, this is a designation I think North Dakota could live without: More beer shipped to North Dakota in 2012 per capita than any other state.  I caught this article by Erik Burgess on InForum before my family headed out to vacation in Canada and made a special effort to save it so I could share it with readers of The New Forty.

Whoopee!  We’re number one!  Let’s drink on it!  Or not.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of a little libation here and there.  I understand that alcohol is used for many purposes – such as celebration, relaxation, depression, and to encourage manual labor assistance.  I am not down on alcohol or more specifically beer, the topic at hand today.  But I cringe at data that puts us on the top of a list for the most beer shipped to a state.  I don’t think we are having it shipped here and then exporting it, so I am thinking we – with we being the State of North Dakota’s collective population – are drinking it.

Except, we aren’t.  Not all North Dakotans are chugging beer on a regular basis.  But those who are chugging are champion chuggers – North Dakota regularly hits the top five for binge drinking.  Equally alarming is that we also regularly hit the top five for underage drinking.  What does this all mean?

Well, teens and young adults (and some misguided older adults) will tell you that there isn’t anything else to do in North Dakota but drink.  Gimme’ a break!  I have been hearing that sorry excuse since I arrived in the state 16 years ago and I am still not buying it.  This whole notion of going out to the Johnson farm and drinking yourself stupid or doing a power hour on your birthday (21 shots in one hour) at a local college bar is not only outdated it borders on pathetic.  Where is the fun, glory, or payoff in drinking like that?

Forget about the fact that underage and binge drinking are dangerous – indeed, doubly dangerous when someone underage binges.  Excessive levels of alcohol consumption can result in your death.  And when I say death, I don’t mean because you attempted to drive or stumbled across railroad tracks or fell off a sixth story balcony…oh no, I mean alcohol poisoning.  It isn’t always just a matter of passing out and sleeping it off – sometimes it is brain damage or death.  There aren’t really any more issues with alcohol after that – you are done…the bar is closed.

It sounds like I am being snarky, doesn’t it?  It sounds like I have a true disdain for excessive alcohol consumption, right?  It sounds like I am weary of North Dakota hitting the top ranks in such undesirable lists, wouldn’t you say?  WELL, GOOD!  That is exactly what I want to convey.

We have a lot to brag about in North Dakota – this is a phenomenal state for so many reasons.  It is time to take a good look at the statistics regarding alcohol usage in North Dakota and to devise a plan to move the state out of the top five.  Interestingly, Minnesota – lakes country – is 29 on the list.  Why is that?  Is it because there are less Johnson farmsteads in Minnesota?  Surely the throes of lake cottages make up the difference.  Perhaps it is the culture in Minnesota – maybe they raise their kids to view alcohol consumption differently…maybe alcohol education programs in schools are more plentiful and more effective…maybe parents role model responsible use.   Whatever it is that allows Minnesota to drop to the middle of the list is worth noting because this is one of those instances where being recognized as number one is no honor at all.

Day one thousand four hundred and seventy-six of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

3 Responses

  1. tim haering

    Gayle [I forgot what that means], you might follow up with a call to a beer distributor or tavern league member. Ask them why ND imports so much beer. I think I know precisely why. And it has nothing to do with it being a state fulla drunks. MY home state of WI has more binge drinkers, not a proud statistic. But we don’t import a lot of beer. Ya know why? Natural resources. WI has all the ingredients, especially water. How much water you got in ND? How much, grain, hops, yeast? ND imports so much brewski because it lacks the resources to make it. WI’s major cities, by comparison, have brew pubs every other block. Make some calls, let us know what you find out.

  2. B-dubya

    Tim–For the first 15 years of my life I lived in Northern WI –about 15-20 miles from Chippewa Falls, so I know what you mean by the abundance of what we called “taverns”. I’m guessing that you’re probably familiar with Leinenkugels beer? And I believe you’re probably correct about all the ingreients for beer being available in that state.

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