More on American Meat Consumption

Back in January, I questioned Mark Bittman's claim in the NYT that Americans consume on average 200 pounds of meat per year.

I've found data from the USDA on loss-adjusted food availability--that is, edible parts actually available for consumption and not known to have spoiled or otherwise been wasted. According to them, the carcass weight of available meat in 2005 was 159g/117g/16g (mammal/poultry/fish) per capita per day, or 235 pounds per year. Retail weight, excluding bones, was 110g/74g/16g, or 160 pounds per year (150 pounds after adjusting for retail spoilage). Total loss-adjusted weight (after adjusting for consumer-level losses) is 83g/52g/14g, or about 120 pounds per year.

So it looks like the number Bittman was using was the retail weight. To call 160 "almost 200" is a bit of a stretch, but maybe he was counting the bones. From a culinary or health perspective he's exaggerating, but from an environmentalist perspective it's not unreasonable to include wastage and bones.

Another interesting point: I occasionally hear people refer to the typical American diet as "meat-based," but we can see from the data here that this is wildly inaccurate. Of the 2680 loss-adjusted calories available per capita for consumption each day, only 375, or 14%, come from meat of any kind. Compare this to 610 (23%) from flour, 480 (18%) from added sugars, and 640 (24%) from added fats, of which about 84% are seed oils. The typical American consumes more than four times as many calories from sugar, flour, and seed oils as from meat.

Update: The picture was posted by Dr. Wilde. I most emphatically do not endorse the overcooking of a perfectly good steak.

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Is brisket the most un-green

Is brisket the most un-green meat of all, since it cooks down to half its original weight during a good 18-hour smoking? Or, since slow cooking brisket makes use of a part of the cow full of tough connective tissue that was historically only consumed by the very poor, does it get credit for not letting an already slaughtered cow go to waste? And what of the carbon footprint left from a large bag-and-a-half of lump charcol and a small bag of mesquite?

Flour is less healthy than meat

The typical American consumes more than four times as many calories from sugar, flour, and seed oils as from meat.

I think this sounds like the health problem. Each person differs in his dietary needs, but flour is not good in excess, and meat is packed with protein, iron, and many important vitamins (like B vitamins). Flour is just a carb. Carbs and other sugars are just energy, devoid of the important health benefits of meat. Vegetables at least contain some vitamins and minerals, and they have fiber, which one may get also from bread, although processed white bread has little.

It is important, of course, to have a diet that combined different foods, but meat is an important part of that for most people. I know that I gained a huge nutritional advantage after giving up my very unhealthy vegetarian habit.

Vegetables, "right" fats in

Vegetables, "right" fats in a good meat - it is the right way to improve the situation.

Since when did vegetarianism become a habit??

In regards to meat being "healthy", eating meat contributes to COUNTLESS major diseases and certainly does not provide a "a huge nutritional advantage" as you state. Please get the correct facts: yes flour may have more carbs or calories, but there is a correlation between the consumption of meat and a wide range of degenerative diseases, ranging from Osteoporosis, Kidney Stones, Gallstones, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Arthritis, and Gum Disease.
Also, there are no nutrients necessary for optimal human functioning that cannot be gained through eating a plant based diet.

Nice to Know

I know what average means but when vegetarians only account for 2% of the population I don't think its worth accounting for especially when 1/4 of the population is obese and consume much more meat than average. Do you a source for your statistics I need it for a report.

Is brisket the most un-green

Is brisket the most un-green meat of all, since it cooks down to half its original weight during a good 18-hour smoking? Or, since slow cooking brisket makes use of a part of the cow full of tough connective tissue that was historically only consumed by the very poor, does it get credit for not letting an already slaughtered cow go to waste?

GoVeg!

Obviously only a small percentage of daily caloric intake comes from meat: meat is very low in calories especially compared to the sugar filled foods Americans typically eat. However just because it has less calories, doesn't make it better for you-I'm sure lead paint doesn't have very many calories, does that justify eating it???!