Americans have long had a love affair with beef. For the past century, the average American has enjoyed more than 60 pounds of burgers, steaks and roasts every year. Unfortunately, the cost has been rising steeply recently, and the average consumer is now paying nearly $4 a pound for ground beef, and over the next year, the prices of hamburgers expected to rise to the current cost of steaks. Unfortunately for many, these higher prices are not expected to drop any time soon. According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, the costs are expected to increase faster than those for poultry, fish and other types of meat.
The increased costs are largely due to a lower supply and rising demand. Texas, which produces most of the cattle in the United States, has been suffering a drought that has affected the productivity of ranches and their herds. Even once the weather stabilizes, it could be a while before prices begin to level off. Unlike other animals, cows must grow for several years before the ranch can slaughter them, and because fertility rates can be affected by the current climate, the U.S. may be looking at years of steep costs.
While meat plays a major role in many people’s diets, most of us get too much protein. This can result in taking in more calories and fat than we really need, which can then contribute to an expanding waistline and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, knee osteoarthritis and heart disease. The rising costs associated with a meat-heavy diet can be just the impetus you need to make healthy changes in your life.
You can get all the protein you need from two to three servings of meat, dairy or legumes a day. Dairy is also a great source of calcium while beans offer heart-healthy fiber and antioxidants. Fill about half your plate with fresh vegetables before adding any other courses, and consider finishing off your meal with fresh fruits, which also contains fiber and antioxidants. You can save money, improve your health and even trim your waistline by trimming the meat from your plate.