If you've experienced sticker shock shopping for ground beef or steak recently, be prepared for an entire summer of high beef prices.
Multi-year droughts in states that produce most of the country's beef cattle have driven up costs to historic highs. Last year, ranchers culled deep into their herds — some even liquidated all their cattle — which pushed the U.S. cattle herd to its lowest point since the 1950s.
In order to make tough cuts of beef more tender, the industry uses a mechanical tenderizing process that involves piercing the meat with needles.
This is effective in breaking up the tough muscle fibers, but there's a downside, too: a higher risk of surface bacteria making their way into the cut of meat, which can set the stage for food poisoning. That's a particular concern when it comes to the center of meat cuts, which don't get heated to the same temperatures as the exterior.
Our fascination with prison food is usually limited to death row prisoners' elaborate last meal requests and urban legends about disturbingly low-grade meat. But nowadays, the walls between the prison cafeteria and the outside world are coming down, at least metaphorically.