Meat:  Healthy Choice and Continued Popularity

June, 2023
Sheri Trent, UF/IFAS Extension Seminole Tribe of Florida

Florida has an estimated total of 1.62 million head of cattle and calves in 2023 with over 15,000 beef producers across the state.  Even with the growing industries of tourism and real estate threatening to overtake the land, ranchers manage their resources, utilize scientific research, and enhance ranch management to produce cattle to meet the growing demands of the industry.  There are also over a million head of hogs from approximately 130 hog producers statewide. These farmers also work diligently to produce necessary food products. Despite the heat, humidity, pests and disease challenges, our Florida ranchers and farmers are doing amazing jobs of producing a healthy meat commodity for the public.  These ranchers are entrepreneurs, animal lovers and scientists who strive to provide healthy food to their families and families across the country.  

Not only is meat delicious, but it is nutritious in numerous ways.  Meat is a complete protein: meaning it has all the amino acids your body needs, and is rich in iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, Vitamin B12, choline and bioactive compounds. It also strengthens muscles, aids brain functions, assists in weight management and can help lower blood pressure to increase heart health.  Meat is a necessary part of a healthy diet, especially for people in key life stages, such as pregnancy, childhood, and older age. 

In a recent nationwide poll, most Americans eat meat regularly and see it as a healthy choice.  In this poll, 81% of people eat meat at least once a week and a total of 76% either selected “strongly agree” or “agree” that it is healthy to eat.  A Newsweek article said, “Despite the great strides made by the vegetarian and vegan movements over the past few decades, most Americans aren’t going to give up their meat-based diets anytime soon.”  According to the Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education, 98% of American households purchase meat, 78% of Americans are self-described meat eaters and 87% of dinners at home use meat or poultry.  Despite what is seen in the news, it is evident that most American homes choose meat for their families.  Meat has so many advantages that we enjoy every day.  We love the excellent health advantages meat provides and the amazing taste of meat in our daily recipes. 

This is wonderful news for the cattle industry. The people of this country will keep eating meat; therefore the demand will continue to increase as our population increases.  Despite the unrelenting challenges of ranching in Florida, it is obvious that the public appreciates and will continue to utilize the healthy meat choices provided by the ranchers.



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