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August 3, 2004

Is beer the cornerstone of civilization?

“In addition to being at the heart of Mesopotamian culture, beer may even have been the foundation for the whole of Western civilization. In the 1950s Jonathan Sauer, an American botanist, suggested that the original motivation for domesticating cereal crops (and thus switching from a settled to a nomadic lifestyle) might have been to make beer rather than bread. The question of whether beer or bread came first has been debated ever since.”
–From the Economist, “Uncorking the past”, December 22, 2001

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