New Study on Swine Dining Says Black Americans Eat the Most Pork
Date: Monday, July 04, 2005
By: Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, BlackAmericaWeb.com
Some pigs just didn’t stand a chance this weekend, with festive, traditional July 4th holiday
celebrations held Friday through Monday.
That means from Philadelphia to Pensacola and from Charleston to Compton, folks were
porkin’ it up with ribs, butts, hot dogs and sausages on the grill. Sure, there was some
chicken, and maybe some grilled steaks or turkey patties here and there. But for Black
folks, the pig is a popular item on the plate, according to a recent study by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture that looks at pork consumption by race and ethnicity year
Blacks eat more than 63 pounds of pork a year, 14 pounds more than whites, the report
said. On average, the total U.S. population in 2003 ate 51 pounds of pork per person.
The study also showed that consumers in high-income households consumed less pork
than those with low to middle-class households.
The largest percentage of pork consumption is in the Midwest, where residents eat 57.7
pounds per person annually. That’s because of states like Iowa, the largest pork-producing
state in the country, said Christopher Davis, a USDA agricultural economist and co-author
of the study.
“Some consumers, who are concerned about fat intake, prefer leaner cuts of pork,”
Davis told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “There are more studies underway to produce hogs
with less fat.”
The amount of pork consumed by the general population has remained constant for
more than 20 years, Davis said, “but chicken consumption has increased rapidly.”
According to the report, pork consumption went from 51.3 pounds annually per person
in 1998 to 51.7 pounds in 2003. At the same time, chicken consumption went from 71.9
pounds to 82 pounds.
Owners of barbecue restaurants like Alexander’s in Atlanta, near Atlanta University,
say they are seeing an increase in the number of people asking for chicken, but pork
is still number one.
“We’ll cook about 300 slabs over the weekend,” William Alexander, who has been
serving up ribs off the grill for 34 years, told BlackAmericaWeb.com Friday. He also
planned to cook five cases of chicken, which is more than last year, Alexander said.
At Leon’s Bar-B-Q in Chicago, managers estimated they would cook and sell about
1,000 slabs at three locations between Friday and Monday.
“If it rains, more people come in or, if it’s really hot, we get a larger crowd too,” Sheryl
Brown, one of the managers, told BlackAmericaWeb.com.
Leon’s has been a hot place for ribs and sauce more than 65 years. Founder Leon
Finney Sr. is 91 years old now, and still makes it in to work on most days, Brown said.
The menu at Leon’s is limited to a couple of specialties — meat and French fries. And
the meat of choice is pork. “We sell some chicken,” Brown said, “but we don’t sell beef.”
It’s no secret that processed pork, such as sausage and bologna, typically has more fat.
Also some cuts of pork have high fat content. For that reason, organizations such as
the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association have recommended
that blacks and others with history of cardiovascular disease, plan diets that include
more lean meat.
And in North Carolina, a state that has climbed to become the second leading producer
of pigs, North Carolina A&T researchers have been working on the development of leaner pigs.
In its reports and publications, the USDA stresses a healthy balance in consumption of
“Once people become aware of impact large amounts of certain foods have on their
bodies,” Davis said, “eating patterns change.”
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