Americans eat the most meat

July 2, 2012

As Brad has written previously, Americans are eating less and less meat: Consumption is projected to drop 12.1 percent just between 2007 and 2012.

That being said, we still eat a lot of meat, about three times more than your average Ukrainian and 12 times more than a Bangladesh resident. In fact, the United States holds the title for highest per capita meat consumption, just barely edging out Australia. Here's what that looks like in map form, via NPR:

How did we get here? NPR's Dan Charles probes the history of our meat-eating ways. A lot of it has to do with being able to afford meat: There's a really robust relationship between incomes going up alongside meat consumption.

But as Roger Horowitz -- a meat historian of sorts, based in Delaware -- explains, there's even more than that:

Almost two centuries ago, he says, meat was one reason why immigrants found America so amazing. "When the Irish come in the 1840s, they write letters back saying 'I eat meat every day,'" Horowitz says. "And they get letters back saying, 'You must be kidding. It can't be true.'"

 

Back in Europe, says Horowitz, the growing of livestock was often organized and regulated in a way that funneled meat straight to the wealthy or the landed aristocracy. In the new world, though, meat was much easier to find. Grazing lands were close to cities; sometimes right inside cities. Farmers quickly realized that raising animals was a good business. Cities set up markets for them. " And the result is a flourishing of the livestock industry, very early in American history."

 

As a result, when new technology came along, like railroads and refrigeration, American entrepreneurs were able to jump right in and use it to turn beef into a centralized, national industry.

Read the rest here.

 

 

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Brad Plumer | July 2, 2012