Week in Review

taps, teats & tabloids

by by Barry Elkinton, Emily Gogolak & Kate Van Brocklin

illustration by by Robert Sandler

Arid Cups

On September 22, over 6.5 million people are expected to descend on Munich, Germany to attend Oktoberfest, a 16-day celebration of beer drinking and Bavarian culture. This year, however, brewers and city officials are growing concerned that they won’t be able to keep the beer flowing all festival long. No, Germany isn’t running out of beer, but it might as well be—a severe shortage of kegs and bottles is threatening to prevent the beer from making it to the party.

In Germany, breweries typically clean and reuse old bottles and kegs, thereby making breweries dependent upon a steady stream of recycled containers. This summer, however, good weather and economic uncertainty has caused a sharp uptick in beer drinking, meaning that more bottles and kegs are out for consumption. As a result, brewers are finding themselves scrambling for kegs and bottles, and facing production stoppages unless more empty containers are returned. “Dear Munichers—please bring back your crates,” implored Heiner Müller, manager of the Paulaner brewery, in Munich’s TZ newspaper. “We need our empties!”

Even if the bottle and keg shortage is resolved, many Germans see another obstacle to a successful Oktoberfest party—high beer prices and skimpy serving sizes. Last year, the League Against Fraudulent Outpouring—a German beer-drinkers advocacy group with over 4,000 members—surveyed the price and portion size of a random sample of 100 beers served at Oktoberfest. According to the group’s survey, prices for the festival’s famed 1-liter mugs averaged €9.20, much higher than prices during the non-festival season. Even worse, not a single beer sampled by the group actually contained a full liter of beer—a finding that league president Jan-Ulrich Bittlinger called “sobering.”

To rectify this situation, the league has launched a massive signature campaign aimed at stopping what they say is a classic example of collusion in a captive market. Before the party begins, the league hopes to get 30,000 to 40,000 signatures on a petition calling for a strict cap of €7.10 per liter of beer. According to Der Speigel, a petition with that many signatures would trigger an official referendum, potentially making beer prices a hot issue in the 2014 Munich mayoral elections. “Since the market can regulate itself at the Oktoberfest, some order needs to be imposed from the outside,” Bittlinger told Die Welt. “Whoever thinks that the Oktoberfest even has a hint of fair market conditions, probably believes that North Korea is a democracy.”—BE


Udder Manna

The Algerian nomadic proverb, “Water is the soul, milk is the life,” may now carry weight to the rest of the world.

Recent studies show that camel’s milk reigns supreme in nutritional and medicinal value among all kinds of milk that humans typically consume. An series of studies led by Dr. Rajendra Agrawal at the Diabetes Care & Research Centre in Bikaner, India revealed improved blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes who exclusively drank camel milk. According to Dr. Agrawal, camel’s milk is high in insulin and enters the bloodstream quickly because it has low rate of coagulation. This benefits patients who often have insufficient insulin secretions. The same studies also found that camel’s milk improves cell function of the pancreas, another advantage for diabetics.

Not only does camel milk take the cake in terms of benefits for diabetics, but, according to an analysis from the National Nutrition Institute in Cairo, its mineral content is significantly higher than than that of any milk you’ll find at the supermarket. The studies show that the rare substance has the most iron, zinc and copper of five milks tested, including human milk.

The list of camel milk’s benefits doesn’t stop there. The liquid contains three times as much vitamin C as cow’s milk, and also has ten times the amount of antibacterial and antiviral properties found in cow’s milk.

Eyal Lifshitz, manager of a camel’s milk research center and owner of Milk From Eden camel farm in Israel, says that patients who drank the milky elixir experienced relief from symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and colitis. Further studies indicate that people undergoing chemotherapy and those suffering from viral infections such as hepatitis may also benefit from camel’s milk.

If you’re trying to get your hands on some camel’s milk, you have your work cut out for you. The American Camel Coalition, a group of camel dairies, obtained permission to sell camel milk from the FDA in 2009, although the number of current American camel ranches is small compared to the vast camel herds in the deserts of Sudan and Somalia. Scarcity also poses as a challenge, as camels give comparatively little milk: 13 pints to a cow’s 50 per day.

Camel’s milk drinkers in the West have options. In Great Britain, powdered camel’s milk is pending approval from the European Commission. Germans Malik Dakdaki and Martin Wilke and Moroccan Abdelkader Saoudi established Vitamol Camel Dairy and Products, and the three partners plan to invest $40 million in the project, according to As laboratories begin to demonstrate what a magical cure-all camel’s milk is, there will be an increased demand in global commercial markets.

So what does camel’s milk taste like? Jack Epstein, owner of Epstein’s Covered Chocolate, a store in San Francisco that sells camel’s milk chocolate, described the taste to as “a little caramelly.”—KVB


Not So Maillot

We have the French to thank for inventing tennis, binoculars, the crêpe, snobbish attitudes toward Americans, and the bikini. Popularized by Bridget Bardot in the 1956 erotic melodrama, And God Created Woman, the two-piece wonder quickly went from scandalous to mainstream and from France to worldwide. A bikini debacle, however, has made it back to its homeland.

Valérie Trierweiler, partner of French President François Hollande, sued three major French tabloids last week for breach of privacy after they published photos of her (bikini-clad) alongside le Président (swim-trunked) while the two were vacationing on the French Riviera. Trierweiler, we think, is an eye-catcher. French media has called the tall beautiful brunette the President’s best asset; her out-of-wedlock relationship with Hollande is cause for some serious gossip across France. Her face has graced the covers of countless tabloids, but grin and bear her bum on the cover she won’t.

Bringing cheesy tabloid press to court isn’t rare in France. French law is the most protective in Europe of people’s right to privacy and A-listers are often awarded damages over the publication of photos. On top of thousands of euros in compensation, courts usually demand that the magazines publish the ruling on their front cover.

Trierweiler’s case against the magazines—Closer, Voici, and Public—comes just as a fourth magazine, VSD, was found guilty on Tuesday of breaching her privacy for similar photographs taken during her beach holiday and was fined €2,000.  It wasn’t much of a win. According to Reuters, she requested 30,000 euros in her initial plea. So why go after the paparazzi again? “We decided to pursue magazines that published the photos on their covers and which tried to sell, to catch the reader’s eye with these photos,” Trierweiler’s lawyer told Europe 1 Radio.

Yet it seems that Trierweiler’s incentive for legal action may not be limited to generic privacy concerns. According to The Telegraph, she allegedly didn’t want the photos made public because she thinks they made her look ‘fat.’ Note to the reader: she’s no Carla Bruni, but she looks pretty damn good in a bikini for a nearly-50-year-old mother of three. Donc, relâche-toi, Valérie! Seriously, if First-Lady-era Hillary was cool being photographed strolling around in her swimsuit (albeit a one-piece), so should you.—EG