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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Facts



The USDA uses meat consumption statistics as an indicator of a country's relative prosperity and standard of living.

Beef and Nutrition

Beef is an important part of a healthy diet. About 50 separate nutrients are essential to good health. No single food contains all of these nutrients. For this reason, dietitians and health providers recommend consuming a wide variety of foods daily from several different food categories. One of the nutrients you need, Vitamin B12, can be found only in animal foods, such as beef. Beef also provides significant amounts of other important nutrients—protein, riboflavin, niacin, iron and zinc.

Food Safety

  • Meat, poultry and fish are not safe to eat until they have been cooked. That's because they are particularly attractive to the kind of bacteria that can make us sick
  • Bacteria growth slows down at temperatures below 40 degrees, so meats can be stored for short periods of time at that temperature, in the refrigerator.
  • Cooking meat at high temperatures kills bacteria, but it must be cooked all the way through. The only way to make sure it is done all the way through is to use a meat thermometer. Meat and poultry are not considered safe to eat until it has reached a temperature of 160 degrees or higher, no matter what it looks like.
  • Most people are suspicious of meat that is pink, but some turkey, pork, ground beef or veal remains pink even after it has been cooked thoroughly. Meat and poultry grilled or smoked outdoors can also look pink, even when well done.


  • Beef is consumed 70 million times daily across America. Each year Americans consume 25 billion hamburgers.
  • In 1921, the White Castle restaurant was founded in Wichita, Kansas. It is the oldest hamburger chain today.
  • Hamburgers were called "Liberty Sandwiches" during World War I to avoid using words from the enemy's language.
  • Hamburgers got their name from a village in Hamburg, Germany. They were named for a style of preparing meat which originally involved slicing the meat very, very thin and eating it raw. That practice may have been safe when the meat was prepared and eaten almost immediately after slaughtering the beef animal, but most of us eat meat that has been transported over many miles and stored in several places before it makes it to our tables, so there are many more opportunities for bacterial growth.
  • Who invented the hamburger? You decide -
    • According to Yale University legend, the hamburger's inventor was Louis Lassen, the owner and operator of Louis' Lunch, a popular lunch spot near the university campus. One day a customer came in needing a quick lunch. Lassen had a broiled meat patty on hand and simply slapped it between two slices of toasted bread.
    • St. Louis, Missouri, claims the first burger was served in that town. On April 30, 1904, a food vender selling beef patties at the World's Fair ran out of plates. He convinced the vender next to him to sell him a supply of bread and began selling his meat patties between two slices of fresh bread.
    • Residents of Seymour, Wisconsin, hold a "Home of the Hamburger" celebration every August 5. Residents of that town claim their own Charlie Nagreen as the hamburger's inventor. Better known as "Hamburger Charlie," Nagreen was said to have been only 15 years old on August 5, 1885, when he first began frying his hamburger patties in butter and selling them from an ox-drawn cart at the county fair. The Hamburger Hall of Fame is located in Seymour, Wisconsin.
    • Oklahoma has its own claim to the hamburger's origin. On the Fourth of July, 1891, Oscar Weber Bilby built an iron grill at his home in Bowden, Oklahoma, shaped some freshly-ground Angus meat into round patties, and fried them on the grill until they were juicy and done. He served them to his friends on his wife's homemade buns along with freshly-churned ice cream and handmixed root beer.
  • The hamburger meat we buy in the store is usually made from the less tender and less popular cuts of beef. Trimmings from more tender cuts may also be used.
  • Grinding tenderizes the meat, and the fat reduces its dryness and improves flavor. Grinding also exposes more of the meat surface to the bacteria normally occurring in the air, on the meat, on the butcher's hands and on the cutting equipment. For that reason ground beef is more likely to be contaminated than large cuts of meat.
  • Most ground beef is ground and packaged in local stores. All meat transported and sold in interstate commerce must be federally inspected. The larger cuts are usually shipped to local stores, where it is ground.

Other Cuts

  • The dye used to stamp the grade on meat is edible. It is made from grape skins.
  • All meat will shrink in size and weight during cooking. The amount of shrinkage will depend on its fat and moisture content, the temperature at which the meat is cooked and how long it is cooked. The higher the cooking temperature, the greater the shrinkage.
  • The small fine flecks of fat in steaks are called "marbling." The higher the grade of beef, the more marbling you will find.
  • Not all of the steer is steak. A 1,000 pound steer will provide about 430 pounds of edible meat. The rest of the weight is sold as by-product such such as by-product such as leather and pharmaceuticals.
  • In 1888, an English doctor by the name of Salisbury prescribed three hamburger meals a day as a cure for various ailments. Today his name isassociated with the seasoned ground beef patty served with gravy in many school cafeterias.

Beef Industry

The Chicago stockyards are widely credited with providing the inspiration for industrial assembly lines. The slaughter process was known as a "disassembly line." It is said that Henry Ford observed it and reversed the process to put cars together, instead of taking cows apart.

Beef Products

  • hamburger
  • steak
  • hot dogs
  • gelatin
  • marshmallows
  • chewing gum