Dr. Janeal Yancey In my job, I have lots of great opportunities to see the inside of food processing facilities and farms that most people don’t get to see.
That’s part of the fun of being a meat nerd. I am always amazed by the sheer size and scope of the industry when I get to see these facilities in action.
For example, I was in a pork processing plant last summer and I was standing in the middle of the bacon slicing room. The slicers are these huge machines with circular blades like 4 feet across. They move so fast you can’t see them. They sliced pieces of bacon faster than I could count. I found a really cool bacon slicing video on youtube.
click image to zoomA few of the 80,000 chicks on the Munyon FarmMound of bacon. At the plant I was visiting, I think there were six lines slicing bacon all running at the same time, at least 16 hours a day, 5 days a week. That is an incredible about of bacon. That plant harvested 19,000 pigs per day in 2011. Processors get about 15.4 lbs of cured bacon out of every hog, that’s 292,600 lbs of bacon, PER DAY, in one plant! The daily hog slaughter in the US in 2011 was 438,630 PER DAY, that’s 6.7 million pounds of bacon, PER DAY!!!
Of course, there are 313 million people in the US and they usually eat three times a day, seven days a week. Not to even mention exports.
(See how I can get lost in the enormity of our food system! I’m just a meat head.)
click image to zoomJaneal YanceyA few of the 80,000 chicks on the Munyon Farm We went on a tour of farms with some ladies earlier this summer called Moms on the Farm Tour.
Some local chicken farmers, Jared and Anita Munyon were nice enough to allow our group to tour their farm on a Saturday morning. They have four chicken houses where they raise broilers for a company called Simmons. Each of their chicken houses hold about 20,000 chickens. That’s 80,000 chickens on their farm!
They will get about 5 sets of chickens each year, so this one farm produces 400,000 chickens each year. There are about 30,000 farms that raise chickens in the US, and 95% of them are family-owned like the Munyon’s Farm.
Americans eat, on average about 83 pounds of chicken each year, so we need lots of them to keep us supplied in chicken nuggets, breasts, and chicken wings, over 37 billion pounds of chicken meat.
click image to zoomJaneal Yancey The beef industry is even more amazing to me because the cattle come from so many different farms in so many different places in the US.
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