This is a personal view, not a carefully researched scientific paper so the statistics and facts are probably not 100% accurate. However, it is how I see things and I believe correct in spirit if not detail.
The press are reporting the price of meat will be going up as the farmers are having to pay more for the fodder crops that they feed the animals on that are our meat.
Price of our Food
I’ve said for some time that I believe our food is generally too cheap and because of this we devalue it. There is little financial incentive to grow your own food now, the incentives are in other directions, healthy exercise, pride in achievement, quality and freshness etc. In fact food today is less than half the price relative to hours worked to pay for it than it was 20 or 30 years ago.
Agribusiness Reduces Food Costs?
Back before the rise of agribusiness production, chicken was a luxury food that a family might have once a week if they were lucky. We ate much less meat as a proportion of our diet and this was no bad thing.
Meat production is basically inefficient. Animals eat food, including protein and convert it to protein we eat at a ratio of something like 30:1 Admittedly a lot of what they eat we could not eat so the real figure for efficiency is somewhat higher.
Far worse than the basic inefficiency of meat production is the cruelty that is often part of the production. High density production is part of the effort by farmers to increase that efficiency and thereby reduce the cost of production so we can enjoy our cheap meat and they can make a living.
Become a Vegetarian?
Now I’m not advocating that we all become vegetarians. Firstly, I believe that if you wish to avoid the exploitation of animals in your food production then you should be a vegan. No milk, no eggs and so forth. So if you are unhappy with the morality of meat production at heart, that’s the path you should take.
Secondly we are omnivores. We are designed by evolution to eat some meat and to enjoy the taste of it. It’s a testament to the robustness of our design that we can live as vegans, vegetarians or even near carnivores. Ug the caveman had a pretty varied diet, roots and berries were good. Full of fibre, low in sugar and low in proteins, his diet was supplemented by meat protein and fats.
To make it worthwhile for Ug to go to all the trouble and risk of hunting the taste of meat was wonderful. But all that effort to catch his meat made sure it was a supplement to his diet.
Now Mr Modern can drop into his supermarket or burger bar and get that taste he was programmed to really love without having to spend a couple of days sharpening sticks and rocks an running down a gazelle or rabbit.
So we become fat, suffer increased rates of bowel cancer and other health problems because of our success.
Reacting to Higher Meat Prices
Getting back to the start of this, the increase in the price of meat, my suggestion is that we should review and reduce how much meat we eat. There is a lot of protein to be found in pulses.
We often eat stews in the winter. These are cooked slowly and contain more beans than meat but taste wonderful because the meat flavour dominates. Lasagne and pasta dishes also use low quantities of meat in proportion to the meal. The meat is there but in a small amount.
It’s not necessary to eat meat every day. Vegetarian foods can be really tasty and contain just as much protein as any meat meal. Bean burgers beat beef burgers any day in my opinion in the flavour race.
So, let’s react to an increase in cost by eating a healthier and more creative diet with less meat in it. Better still, let’s pay even more for organic or free-range meats where the quality of life of the animal is better.