My relationship with meat is complicated.
I have fond memories of mixing meatloaf ingredients with my hands as a kid, and taking my first taste of “carpaccio” when my mom wasn’t looking. In college I decided to become a vegetarian despite the fact that the only dish I knew how to prepare was steamed rice. Even now, the inclusivity of meat in my diet fluctuates between consuming only the farm-grown, veggie-heavy culinary delights I cook from scratch at home, and the sudden, raging feeling that I need to eat sushi 4 days in a row. My belief in evolution reassures me that my species not only survived, but thrived when we discovered that you can crack open the bones of animals and eat the marrow (read: super meat!) hidden inside. And most cannibals and idiom enthusiasts (you are what you eat) would agree that I am even made of meat. So you see, being a carnivore is not easy.
I decided to find a data set that pleased the side of me that I’m coming to realize is an obsessed foodie. Beef Stakes is a data representation of the amount of beef produced in 2011. My project is scaled down to include the top 4 beef-producing states, though through continuing exploration of data surrounding beef, I would love to expand my project to discuss beef imports/exports between the U.S. and the rest of the world. I’m also fascinated in the amount of waste involved in beef production; the oil used to transport, the methane produced by corn-fed cows, the actual amount of meat we consume vs. produce, etc.
Each piece of meat is made from modeling clay, and the trays were created by joining existing styrofoam packaging.
The height of the steak is mapped to the amount of beef that state produced (1″ per every billion lbs) though, as my instructor Jer and I discussed, the correct execution would be to map the amount of production in lbs to the square mileage of the state, then to the size of the “state steak”. My current mapping process left Texas in the dust, when in reality it produces “only” about 2.5 billion lbs less than the top-producer, Nebraska.
The price tags were designed in Processing, and include the amount of beef produced per state, the cost (per pound & total) to produce the beef, and how much beef each citizen would’ve had to consume, based on production, if the beef had not been exported from that state.
My main goal for this process was to explore the data I was able to access. However, I’d like to expand the project to further explore how much we are moving food around this country, and to point out the extreme wastefulness in our current system. From a design & materials standpoint, I’d like to rework the “logo” on each label to represent the appropriate state, not the U.S. as a whole. I’d also like to reconcile the “safety instruction” icons at the bottom of the label, as well as build custom styrofoam containers for each steak.