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Opening Arguments

No beef here


In the U.S., the country that made the hamburger a global icon of American fast-food cuisine, beef is about to fall another spot on the meat scale.

For the past two decades, chicken has outranked beef as the most produced meat, and now pork is about to surpass it as well. Hog herds have rebounded from a deadly virus last year, while record-high meat prices and cheaper feed led to breeding of more sows and bigger pigs.

Where I grew up, everybody had chickens, so that was the most common meat to be served, followed by pork (pigs were fairly common, too). Beef was something you bought occasionally at the store, and steak was a real treat. So that was my favorite food for a long time. I've rediscovered pork in recent  years, however, and my favorite meal these days includes both pork chops and smoked side bacon (as well as a few Appalachian side dishes).

Meanwhile, the price of beef, among other factors, has brought hard times to McDonald's:

Perhaps the most obvious battle is the one against “fast casual” chains which make much better burgers for not much more money. Five Guys, In-n-Out — an adult can spend seven or eight bucks for lunch, just a dollar or two more than they’d pay for a full meal at McDonald’s, and get food and service which are better in every way. My childhood favorite, Steak ‘n Shake, is aggressively expanding outside of its midwestern/southern heartland, offering diner-level service and cooked-to-order meals made with beef which is readily identifiable as such.

And it hasn't helped that McD's first got rid of the best thing about their fast food -- potatoes deep fried in beef tallow -- and then gave in to the food police and started offering crappy health foods. Hey, guys, how about a pork chop sandwich? Hell, even a good chili dog would be welcomed.

Ground beef is over $4 a pound and climing. Yikes.