This week I saw a piece on the New York Times about how the severe draught that is currently affecting the American Midwest might potentially affect the price of beef – at least a 5% increase caused by the dramatic loss in the current crop of corn, which is one of the main ingredients in animal feed and also countless processed foods (corn oil, high fructose corn syrup and tortillas, to name a few) used for human consumption.
According to the piece, 2012 has been the hottest year ever recorded in the United States since the 19th Century and the heat and lack of rain is taking a toll on farmers across the country, and the effect that has had on crops will eventually affect livestock as well. The article mentioned that such increase will specially affect lower income families who are specially struggling with the slow economic recovery. The Times quotes economist Chris G. Christopher, who said that this is certainly bad news for many workers around the nation. “There’s a lot of people in this country living paycheck to paycheck,” he said. “This is not a good thing for them.”
The question is: why should Americans be consuming so much beef in the first place?
Regular readers of mine know that I have pretty much sworn red meat out of my life for well over a decade now. Sure, I still eat the occasional hot dog on the beach during the summer, but I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I do that every year. I never buy beef or pork at home, and I often prepare meat-free dishes whenever I can.
The fact is that we can all make do without eating red meat – especially beef. If everyone cut down, say, 20 percent on their weekly consumption of red meat, I am sure that would keep prices down, since the demand would dramatically reduce. Also, people would be healthier, because health surveys have stated that regularly abstaining from meats (there is plenty of protein in legumes like peanuts and garbanzo beans) contributes for better overall health.
You can opt for delicious meatless or seafood options, like this simple and delicious fish recipe I came up with today:
Ernest’s Tilapia with tomatoes and vegetables over pasta
(Serves 2 – preparation time about 15 minutes)
2 tilapia fillets (any firm fish will do)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (about three chopped fresh roma tomatoes)
1 ½ cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed.
About ½ package small pasta (I used penne rigate)
Dried oregano, sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic powder, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cook pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water.
Season fillets with salt and pepper. Heat oil in nonstick frying pan, and cook fillets in medium heat for about two minutes on each side. Reduce the heat and add the diced tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes until tomato juices reduce a bit. Add the mixed vegetables until heated through. Plate the pasta and serve fish mixture with a drizzle of olive oil.