Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on March 8, 2015
Discuss this article at the Diner Pantry inside the Diner
Lately as most of you Diners are aware, the price of Beef on the Diner Menu has been steadily increasing. We are sorry for this incovenience here on the Diner, but we have to pass along the costs that the ranchers are passing along to 3 Bears.
In fact, the cost for Ground Beef just passed a new Record High per pound, @ $4.13 Nationwide Average. Here on the Last Great Frontier, currently 90% lean Ground Beef is coming in @$4.99 lb. However, while Ground Beef is found in a Favorite Diner Menu offering of Spaghetti & Meatballs and the Chef here likes to eat Raw Ground Beef as Steak Tartare periodically, the real favorites here are the Diner BBQ offerings.
Chart above ends in 2013. We have soared well above this now.
Reason of course that the Price for Beef is going UP is that the Supply is Going DOWN, while the Population is still going UP.
Where’s the BEEF?
With this in mind, I did a Test today of 3 Beef cuts for the Diner Churasco, Beef Ribs, Ribeye Steaks & Fillet Mignon. I felt it was a good time to do this before the price skyrockets too high or the beef isn’t in the fridge at 3 Bears.
The Price differential in the 3 cuts is quite a wide spread. The Ribs come in at $2.79/lb, well under the Ground Beef price of $4.99/lb. The Ribeyes came in at $7.59/lb, and the Fillets at $9.99. My question to myself was how much difference is there in taste and texture with these 3 cuts of a Dead Cow injected full of Hormones and Anti-Biotics in a Chicago Feed Lot?
To do a fair analysis, I prepared all 3 cuts in the same way, all in the same Marinade bag, with the Diner TOP SECRET special BBQ Marinade. I cooked all of them together, completely covering the small area of the Diner Portable Grill, suitable for Bugouts. Obviously, I did not eat all of this at once, however straight off the grill I took Sample Cuts from each piece to do the Taste Test. The remainder has been dropped in the Fridge and will be consumed as Diner Leftovers all week.
As far as flavor goes, you just can’t beat the Ribs, even against the more expensive Ribeye and Filet cuts. However, the amount of easily carved off meat from the ribs is substantially less than for the other two cuts, virtually all of which are ingestable. Comparing the Ribeye to the Filet, the former is more flavorful (more FAT!), but the latter is more tender and meaty. The ribs win hands down though when you save them to then make a Soup or Stew later, you get double use out of them this way.
The most important thing here for all the cuts is cooking at the right temperature for the right amount of time, you don’t want to end up with strips of leather to chew on, nor do most people like to eat raw meat either. Medium Rare is what you want to hit most of the time, and for this adventure, I nailed it right on for all 3 cuts. Below are cross sections from the Ribs and from the Filets.
Moving down the Collapse Highway a piece here, I will mainly be looking for good buys on the Ribs as primary Animal Protein source, and for right now I’m putting the Upper Limit on what I will pay for Beef at $15/lb. Occassionally some Prime Beef Cuts are coming in at $20/lb, but they just aren’t that much better than the Ribs to justify the additional expenditure.
I do wonder how the increasing Beef Prices are affecting the average J6P Diet choices these days, since at least for the lowest portion of the demographic, a diet with a lot of meat in it will put a pretty good dent in your monthly food budget. The main thing to be aware of is that you don’t need a huge amount of meat in the diet, and to make the most of what you do buy. In this case, I ate about 1/3rd of one of the 2 ribeyes, half of one of the Fillets and the best meat off one of the ribs. This is way more than you need, but it was for the taste test, part of the great SACRIFICE I make daily on the Diner for the Readers. LOL. Any one of those would have been plenty of meat for the day, I did serious Artery Clogging by chowing down on this much in one day.
For the rest, I thinly slice the filets and ribeyes to make Steak Sandwiches, which I spruce up with things like mushrooms sauteed in butter and garlic, Pesto Sauce, Asiago Cheese and various veggies like black olives and pickled jalapeno peppers. This quantity of meat is probably enough for about 6-8 nice Steak sandwiches. For the Ribs, I microwave them just enough to warm, but not further cook them, then eat the best meat off them. Another 3 days there left at 1 per day. After that, I take all those bones and Meat remaining on them and make a stew or soup from them, good for another couple of days. All together, this pile of meat lasts about 2 weeks in total. The total cost was $10 for the Filets, $5 for the Ribs and $8 for the Ribeyes. Roughly a cost of a little less than $2/day on the Meat portion of the Diet, well within the SNAP Card Budget, even without using just Ground Beef for Burgers. It’s comparable in price, a decent Burger is about 1/3rd/lb, coming in at around $1.66 for the Meat.
As most Kollapsniks know, Beef Ranching is one of the most intensive forms of food production in terms of water, feed, transportation etc. Providing so much Beef to so many people is highly dependent on the current energy stock of fossil fuels, as well as the current stock of Water that can be drawn up from Underground Aquifers to hydrate all those Cows, and to grow the Corn they get fattened up with in the Chicago Feedlots. This sort of food production probably will collapse even before the Happy Motoring does, so this is a good time to do some Final BBQs at a price you still might be able to afford to pay.
As a Canary in the Coal Mine, exactly how hig the Beef prices can go before the Konsumers stop BUYING the Beef is an interesting question. Beef is relatively Elastic as a commodity, you don’t absolutely HAVE to eat Beef as your source of Animal protein. You can easily substitute Fish, Chicken, Eggs etc. So at some point in the upward spiral of Beef prices, people will simply stop buying it, at which point it will not be economic to ranch it at large scale, and most beef will disappear from the Meat Freezers.
Although for the moment I have put my Upper Bound at $15/lb for ANY cut of beef, if the overall prices rise to Double that but the meat is still available on the shelves, I’ll still probably buy it before making the switch to Chicken, which probably will not rise in price quite so rapidly. I’ll ration it a little more carefully, and certainly not do Mass Consumption, even as a Gift to Diner Readers. LOL. However, while I can afford a doubling in meat prices, most of the population cannot, certainly not the segment on a SNAP Card budget. Prices that high will inevitably result in meat disappearing from the shelves as the Ranchers go Outta Biz.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another 2 years of Churasco at a price I can afford, with a decent selection of meat cuts available. I’ll chow down on it as the main Animal Protein in the diet for as long as I can, and savor every last bite, so I can image it in my mind and remember it well while Chowing Down on an Earthworm Burger.