So this week most of the mass media is purporting to believe that it is possible to produce alchohol from brewers yeast extract (which is, precisely, what’s left over when all the live yeast has been used up by a brewing process), and uncritically repeating a Cabinet Minister’s ruminations about Vegemite being removed from supplies to “dry” remote indigenous communities just in case someone tries to make moonshine from something which is not chemically capable of producing alcohol.
In short, the yeast in Vegemite is dead as doornails and broken down into what’s not even a vague semblance of the original fungus. If the yeast is dead, there is no way it can produce alcohol. Because it’s dead. Unless they added some live yeast back into Vegemite, and that yeast somehow magically survived the high-salt environment, the sandwich spread almost certainly can’t metabolise sugar.
So what’s really going on here? At best, it’s simple ignorance and someone in the Australian government unknowingly serving up urban legends about Indigenous Australians. At worst, it’s old fashioned racism spread by the Australian government to insult Indigenous communities.
Determined moonshiners could theoretically brew bread up with jam or marmalade, or local fresh fruit, and get something (mildly) alcoholic if they want to. Are they going to ban bread from these communities too?
Some people on social media have been saying that it doesn’t matter that it won’t work if they’re trying to do it anyway, and that just makes my head hurt. Even if some folks get some placebo-effect jollies from a zero-alcohol Vegemite stew, it’s not going to damage their livers or any other organs, is it? So where’s the possible harm, other than some slightly excessive salt intake, which is probably going to be self-limiting because too much super-salty stuff just isn’t very appealing?
Tony Abbott has now said there will be no Vegemite watch on his watch, but failed to point out that his Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion had been propagating an urban myth as the reason, instead preferring to fall back on soundbites about leading a “deregulatory government”. Because yeah.
What’s piqued your media interests lately?
As usual for media circus threads, please share your bouquets and brickbats for particular items in the mass media, or highlight cogent analysis elsewhere, on any current sociopolitical issue (the theme of each edition is merely for discussion-starter purposes – all current news items are on topic!).