Portney prepared his lip-smacking barbequed pork ribs. Baron’s Beef Wellington emanated eloquent dining at its finest. For down-home comfort food Betty’s Boston Baked Beans are unbeatable. And Chico cooked up his mouth-watering spicy chicken enchiladas.
The judges carefully sampled each dish - sniffing, tasting, delighting in the texture of every morsel then solemnly convened in the back of the auditorium. The contestants waited nervously and finally the head judge took to the podium. “Ladies and Gentlemen. After compiling the scores, it seems we have a 4-way tie! Tie-breaker rules will apply. The winner of the Golden Cornucopia will be the chef whose prepared dish feeds the world most efficiently.”
Tiny beads of perspiration immediately popped out on Baron’s forehead. He knew the delicious steer he was serving up was notoriously inefficient as a food source. On average, to make just one 4 oz. serving of his dish requires about 7 lbs. of grain and forage and over 50 gallons of water. About 96% of the protein that goes into a steer is lost before it becomes dinner on the table.
Meanwhile, Portney felt a glimmer of confidence. He didn’t know about the other two contestants, but he did know that on average hogs are more than 3 times as efficient in converting feed into protein for human consumption than are cattle.
But Chico’s the one who couldn’t suppress a grin. His beloved chickens, as well as other poultry, are efficiency experts. Poultry are about 8 times better at changing chicken feed into Sunday dinner than are beef cattle. In fact, at least one study shows that if the U.S. completely replaced cattle with poultry the additional calories and protein would feed about 130 million more Americans.
Not surprisingly, the Golden Cornucopia went to Betty and her humble beans. “I love a juicy burger on occasion,” commented Betty. “But I also love exploring new recipes using chicken, beans and veggies. And while grass-fed cattle from Southwest Wisconsin undoubtedly beat the averages, just how many 50-gallons-of-water-per-quarter-pounders can Mother Earth afford to supply? It’s something to consider because this is our only home. We’re here forever… Earthbound.”