French Grocers Sell Beer, Wine and Distilled Spirits
by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.
French grocery stores sell beer, wine and distilled spirits, which is a logical place to purchase these products. Both custom and food law in the Western World recognize alcohol beverages as foods so it's natural to buy them along with other foods, both in grocery stores and restaurants. 1
Unfortunately, the United States has a long temperance tradition which stigmatizes alcohol beverages and tries to deny their status as foods. As long ago as the 1800s, temperance writers insisted that alcohol was not a food. Instead, they described it as a poison that was dangerous to life and health. 2 That long tradition continues to this day among temperance-oriented groups. For example, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) insists that "alcohol is not a food." 3
But by denying that alcoholic beverages are foods and calling them toxins, temperance-oriented activists can more easily restrict their sale and prevent them from being sold along with other foods in both grocery stores and restaurants. That seems to be their goal.
French thinking on the subject is correct. Alcoholic beverages are culturally and legally foods that should be available in grocery stores and restaurants.