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Health in the CNMI: 8 beers to avoid

I’VE heard that people in the Marianas drink more beer, per capita, than anywhere else in the world. No idea if this is true, but maybe it is.

Organics.org has recently published an article about 8 beers to avoid, because of various additives. I am just passing this information along as a public service because we have so many beer drinkers here.

Many of us choose what we eat carefully, or at least dedicate some attention to it. But when it comes to drinks, especially alcoholic beverages, we do little to make the best decisions for our health. This is a mistake.

While foods and non-alcoholic beverages are required to list their ingredients and are monitored by the FDA, beer does not belong in either. The alcohol industry has lobbied for years to avoid labeling its ingredients. Some do this to protect its recipes, but mostly they do it to hide unhealthy ingredients.

Here are some harmful ingredients that are commonly found in beer:

GMO Corn Syrup (GMO means Genetically Modified Organism) (For a contrarian view, see http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/06/17/bad-science-about-gmos-it-reminds-me-of-the-antivaccine-movement-revisited/)

GMO Corn

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Fish Bladder

Propylene Glycol

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Natural Flavors

GMO Sugars

Caramel Coloring

Insect-Based Dyes

Carrageenan

BPA

Here are the 8 beers that are commonly found in United States that you should stop drinking immediately.

Budweiser

One of the most popular beers is Budweiser. Budweiser and Bud Light contains genetically modified corn. In 2007, Greenpeace discovered experimental GMO rice in Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) beer. No way to easily know if they still do this. It’s expensive anyway — find something healthier and cheaper.

Newcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle Ale has been found to contain caramel coloring. Class 3 and 4 caramel coloring is made from ammonia, which is classified as a carcinogen. While alcohol is a carcinogen itself, drinking it in moderation may decrease your chances at developing cancer. However, more added carcinogens will have the opposite effect. This beer has cancer causing qualities.

Corona Extra

I used to love Corona’s commercials. They were so peaceful and relaxing. I liked Corona until I learned that the beer contains GMO Corn Syrup and Propylene Glycol. Propylene Glycol is controversial, and is said to be potentially harmful to your health.

Miller Lite

This is another very popular beer in America that contains GMOs. Miller Lite contains GMO corn and corn syrup. It’s “GMO time.”

Although Organics.com did not comment on regular Miller High Life beer, nor MGD, it is probably best to avoid these products. Besides, there are many tasty alternatives.

Michelob Ultra

Less popular but still readily available Michelob beer, should be eliminated from your choices. This beer has been found to contain a genetically modified sweetener (GMO dextrose). I always found Michelob to be an overpriced, mediocre beer.

Guinness

Guinness is often praised for its smoothness. However, several investigations proved that Guinness ingredients are quite disturbing. The beer contains isinglass, an ingredient which comes from fish bladder. High fructose corn syrup has been long banned from many drinks.

Coors Light

Coors light is a drink that is very popular at bars and among college students. Mostly because it’s cheap. The beer contains GMO corn syrup. If this is true of Coors Light, it is probably true of regular Coors beer.

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pabst Blue Ribbon contains GMO corn and GMO corn syrup.

When it comes to beer you have to be careful. Try to stay away from any American beer. Fortunately, we have a lot of imported beer from Korea, China, Japan and the Philippines and they are good.

Although Organics.com didn’t “review” any of the Asian beers, they probably do not contain any GMO products. So it would be safe to drink Tsingtao, Asahi, San Miguel and Hite.

Some of my younger friends think that drinking a “Bud” is somehow more manly than drinking a Tsingtao.

Actually, Tsingtao is a German beer. That is because long ago, when Germans inhabited a part of China, they established a brewery in order to provide “real” beer for their countrymen. The Germans are long gone, but the Chinese are still making a quality beer, and it’s a lot cheaper here than in the mainland.

And yet, as my friend, Joe Race, often observed, “What matters most to me is how cold it is.”

Below is a list of “safe” beers, compiled by Organic.com   Some of the more exotic beers can be found at Jim Arenovski’s Shell stations (especially the one in Puerto Rico) and at many of the Joeten markets.

GMO Free Beers

Wolaver’s – all beers

Lamar Street – Whole Foods label (brewed by Goose Island)

Bison – all beers

Dogfish Head (organic when ingredients available)

Fish Brewery Company – Fish Tale Ales

Lakefront Brewery – Organic ESB

Brooklyn – (organic when ingredients are available)

Pinkus – all beers

Samuel Smiths – Samuel Smiths Organic Ale

Wychwood – Scarecrow Ale

Non-Organic Beers (Unpasteurized & Unfiltered)

Sierra Nevada – all choices

Duck Rabbit – Brown Ale, Porter, Amber Ale, Milk Stout

Dogfish Head- 60 Minute IPA, Shelter Pale Ale, Chicory Stout

Shipyard – Summer Brew

Victory Brewery – Whirlwind

North Coast – Blue Star

Bridgeport – IPA (Bottle conditioned)

Ayinger – all choices

Royal Oak – Pale Ale

Fraziskaner – Hefeweisse and Dunkel Weisse

Weihenstephaner – Hefe Weissbier

Maisel’s – Weisse

Hoegaarden – Belgian Wit

Heineken

Steamwhistle

Amstel Light

Duchy Original Ale Organic

Mill Street Brewery

Fuller’s Organic

Nelson Organic Ale

Natureland Organic

I didn’t see Sam Adams or Blue Moon on the list, but my guess is that they are safe. (If you have never had a Blue Moon, try one as a special treat). Other good beers are Anchor Steam beer, Bass Ale, and anything with a Moose on the label.

Although Organics didn’t mention any of the Canadian beers, they are among the most popular, particularly Labatt, Molson, Moosehead, Carling, and Schooner Lager.

As for me, I usually buy Hite, because it’s cheaper than the other brands. A six-pack of Hite is cheaper than two bottles of Sam Adams. Yes, Sam is better beer, but if I’m eating nachos, who cares?

One thing Organics didn’t mention is freshness. The fresher the beer, the better it is. That is why micro-breweries in U.S. bars are so popular: the beer is made on the premises. I wish we had a micro-brewery here, but I wish for a lot of things.

The author is a Variety contributor, and the opinions expressed are those of the writer.