Monday, September 2, 2013

People Eating Tasty Animals

In honor of Labor Day barbecues, and as a way to get a post up exactly a year after my last entry, I give you my attempt to put American consumption of meat and animal products in perspective.  Take a group of one hundred average Americans; how many animals do they need to support their meat, egg, and milk habits?  Well, over the course of one year:

  • three dairy cows
  • one hundred laying hens
  • ten beef cows
  • thirty-six pigs
  • one hundred turkeys
  • two thousand chickens

That's right--besides the cows and hens that produce milk and eggs, you and your ninety-nine friends require the slaughter of dozens of large mammals and several thousand birds!  The meat consumption numbers are in the chart below (note the huge rise in chicken, nearly tied with beef at sixty pounds per person per year), but the underlying reality is lots and lots of animals being raised in anticipation of slaughter for our enjoyment.

Behind these animals are others, too: several dairy replacement heifers and a bull, a couple sows (mother pigs) and a boar, a couple dozen chickens and female turkeys with a few roosters and a tom (male turkey) for continuing to grow the population.  As farms (or, for pork and poultry, the huge industrial operations that have replaced farms) grow larger, these animals move further out of our view, but they're still waiting to feed us all the same.

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