Appetite for Beef: How much meat did early New Yorkers consume?
Title: Appetite for Beef: How much meat did early New Yorkers consume?
Author: BAICS, Gergely
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2010/15
Drawing on new archival data for the period from 1790 to 1818, this paper documents how much red meat per capita was consumed by an average New Yorker in the early Republican era, a period for which no systematic figures of urban meat consumption are yet available. The analysis shows that per capita meat consumption rates in America’s largest and fastest growing city reached an equilibrium that exceeded not only contemporary standards, both in comparison to the countryside and to other major European cities, but also compared favorably to the highest recorded figures in American history. In addition, city dwellers ate first and foremost fresh meat, beef in particular, which set them apart from their rural counterparts, and defined an important aspect of their urban standard of living. There was, however, a price to be paid for this urban privilege: external shocks, including epidemics or wars, could severely disrupt the city’s supply chains, causing additional hardships for urban households in provisioning themselves with fresh food.
Subject: Urban history; economic history; history of food; history of New York City; American history
Type of Access: openAccess
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