The High Steaks of Beef Production

A research paper on the beef industry in America, including its environmental and health effects.

The paper discusses how the beef industry is the largest sector in American agriculture and has many detrimental effects on the environment. Americans typically eat large quantities of red meat and consequently have a high rate of heart disease and obesity. The paper includes statistics from the American Heart Association, the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Furthermore, it shows that working conditions in meatpacking plants are among the most dangerous of any industry in the country. This paper also examines the inhumane treatment of cattle. Lastly, it provides alternatives and solutions for the environmental and human health problems associated with beef production, including pasture-based farming and grassfed beef.
“T-Bone, Porterhouse, Ribeye, Skirt Steak, Center-cut Sirloin, Chuck Roast, Tenderloin any one of these items could rightly bear the title of “All-American Entree.” Or how about a steamy rack of ribs, smothered in hickory-smoked barbeque sauce Prime rib, with a little horseradish and a baked potato on the side Meaty five alarm chili topped with Monterey jack The American taste for beef knows no bounds. Each year, the US produces more beef than any other nation in the world, consuming an average of 116.7 lbs per capita. Compared with an average of only 68.4 lbs of poultry, and 47.8 lbs of pork per capita eaten each year in America, it is fair to say that we have a cultural preference toward eating cows. No other country boasts menu items like the 1 lb hamburger topped with cheddar, swiss, and grilled onions at Fuddrucker’s Restaurants, or the 72-ounce top sirloin at the Big Texan Steakhouse in Amarillo, TX. Finish it, and they’ll pick up the tab for you. With this kind of love for beef, it is no wonder the US red meat industry produced 26,492 lbs in 1999, making it the largest sector of our agricultural economy. But beef doesn’t stop at the table aside from gelatin, beef by-products are used in pharmaceuticals, adhesives and anti-corrosives, just to name a few. A closer look at the mass production and consumption of red meat in America today reveals alarming situations both environmentally and in terms of human health. Technical developments in cattle-raising practices involve the use of hormones and antibiotics and consequently trying to push animals past their normal biological functions. Natural resources are taxed by beef production, and the broad picture illustrates a high degree of inefficiency. Modern meatpacking plants are not keeping pathogens out of the beef, and working conditions are far too dangerous. The entire system, from the ranch, to the feedlot, to the slaughterhouse, to the store, restaurant, and plate, is riddled with problems. It is time we find alternatives to help alleviate this American beef dilemma.”