The world’s cup runneth over with living beer traditions. But this vast repository of cultural brewing capital is under attack by global corporations. The top five brewing companies, all of which are American- or European-owned, control 41% of the world market. Perversely, economists and politicians calculate the conquest by industrial breweries as economic growth while the value of small-scale traditional brewing goes uncounted. Much will be lost if this global “beerodiversity” is lost to the forces of corporate-led homogenization.
So begins a very interesting essay at Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF), a think tank, which, according to it’s website, “brings together scholars, advocates, and activists who strive to make the United States a more responsible global partner.” The essay, The Perils of Globeerization, is by Chris O’Brien, who first contacted me a few months ago to tell about his beer activism at his cleverly titled Fermenting Revolution website. The essay is heavy on foreign policy, big business, history and local traditions of alcohol. It may seem somewhat radical to the more conservative, but it certainly agrees with my own view of how the world works. His take on the history and economics of brewing, and especially how the dominant breweries are effecting brewing traditions across the globe is fascinating. And perhaps most importantly, there are obvious parallels to the craft beer industry in America, as well.
O’Brien also has just published a new book, Fermenting Revolution, too, which is available from the publisher, New Society Publishers, or from Amazon. The subject matter seems pretty interesting, I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing it.