James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

October 12, 2009

Could someone check my math?

Filed under: Feeding the world,Fun With Numbers — James @ 9:33 pm


Per capita meat consumption in America is 124.8 kilos per year. Which is ~275 pounds per year, 5.3 pounds per week, and almost exactly 3/4 of a pound per day.

That seems like a lot to me. I mean that’s three quarter-pound hamburgers each and every day. On occasion I’ve hit twice that, maybe thrice in a single meal. But when I say on occasion, I mean every once in a long while. I can’t believe the occasional, delicious, burger binge would bring my average up to three quarters of a pound on a per-day basis.

Have I made an obvious math error? Am I eating less like the average American than I realize? Anyone have more insight into this statistic?


  1. The math checks out, but I have to wonder about the source of the original number. Did it come from someone with an interest in overstating meat consumption?

    Comment by mr_subjunctive — October 12, 2009 @ 9:52 pm

  2. It’s a good question. The original number came from earthtrends.wri.org, and I don’t know the underlying biases of the site. However it seems in the same range as others numbers I found (like estimating from this graph: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Meat_Consumption.gif )

    Comment by James — October 12, 2009 @ 10:11 pm

  3. I suppose if you had a serving of meat at every meal, as some people still believe one should, you might get more than 12 oz / day. Though some people are going to have to be eating six hamburgers at every meal in order to cancel out all the vegans and vegetarians.

    Which raises another question: what qualifies as “meat?” I assume beef, pork, and chicken are included, and probably also turkey (Thanksgiving probably raises the average significantly for a lot of people), but do fish and shellfish?

    Also if this were coming from the height of the Atkins diet fad, per capita meat consumption might be skewed high too.

    Personally? I probably eat about five pounds of meat per year, including fish and shellfish. (Most of that is in the form of roast beef sandwiches from Subway.) So somebody, somewhere, is having half a pound of meat three times a day just to cancel me personally. I’m sure that happens, but I can’t imagine it’s that common.

    Comment by mr_subjunctive — October 13, 2009 @ 8:58 am

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