A whole lot of meat-eaters out there are getting a little worried lately. Supermarkets are limiting how much meat you can purchase at once. Wendy's is now removing beef from its menus in some places. Tyson has a big ol' blog post about how they're worried about a meat shortage, and it prompted the White House to mandate that meatpacking plants stay open, despite the awful conditions and chance of getting sick inside.
Here's the reality, though: we're not running out of meat anytime soon, and it's worth addressing some of these bigger storylines with some additional context.
It is totally fine if Wendy's wants to yank the Baconator off the menu, but they should at least be upfront about what the score is here. Their slogan for so long, the one that forced the hand of everyone else in the fast-food burger biz, was "Fresh, Never Frozen," and they're sticking to their guns. If they'd rather serve nothing before serving frozen burgers, that's their prerogative. Frankly, it's kind of admirable in its own way -- which is all the more reason to get out in front of these stories that are doing nothing but inducing panic in a country that relies so heavily on burger consumption just to feel something.
That all said, this would be a perfect time for Wendy's to lean even harder into its generally-superior chicken products. The social media clamoring for spicy nuggets was a colossal publicity wave, and Wendy's could easily tap back into that. If there were ever a modern national symbol of Americans rising from the ashes with strength, it's the way we fought for the return of spicy nuggs. Wendy's uses frozen chicken, unlike the refrigerated beef, and you have to imagine they're sitting on a vault of the stuff somewhere.
And speaking of chicken, it's time to talk Tyson. They're the biggest chicken producer in the US, and as such, we should generally take their claims about chicken (and other meats) seriously. First off, there's a ton of meat in cold storage. The key here is going to be in the world of processing. If there are fewer people around to work in these processing plants, that might just mean a few of us have to do a little more butchering at home. If you're really desperate for a boneless, skinless chicken breast, it's honestly not that hard, and there are videos galore explaining how. Not sure how to trim that unwieldy thing of spare ribs into something your family can comfortably eat? Fun suburban dads with amateur YouTube channels have got you covered.
All that said, Kroger just made a huge step in offering plant-based "meats," so if you're truly that worried about meat shortages, maybe it's time to finally give one a try.
Top Image: Ramon F Velasquez/Wikimedia Commons