Beef was not an important part of the American diet before the Civil War. Cattle were not
indigenous to the Americas, so were not any cattle in the New World until the Spanish
introduced them into in Mexico in 1519. In the 18th century, the Spanish and French
colonist began to raise cattle. As the railroads developed, they used trains to transport to
herds from San Antonio to New Orleans. However, this industry collapsed
because of the cold winter and 90 percent of the herds were just about wiped out.
Eventually technology, animal husbandry and the invention of barbed wire changed the
industry. In 1871, a Detroit meat packer named G. H. Hanharmand brought refrigeration
railway cars west transforming the industry and in 1878 Chicago meat packer Gustavus
Swift perfects the refrigerated rail car, greatly expanding the market for all perishable
products. Slowly beef took to the road and the refrigerated truck replaced the rail car and
made the delivery to local markets the standard we have today.
After the Second World War, beef became a symbol of American prosperity. In the U.S we
were eating 62 pounds a year by 1952, 99 pounds by 1960, and 114 pounds by 1970's.
Today that rate is alarmingly increasing every year with fast food restaurants leading the
pack contributing to the rise in U.S obesity and heart disease. But we are not alone,
Argentina eats 50% more beef than the average American and the Asian world is slowly
adding beef to their diet contributing to health problems they never encountered before
like diet related heart disease, obesity and Crons disease.
Below is a chart showing where you favorite cut of beef comes from before you cook it up.