(Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media)

All week, Harvest Public Media's series Choice Cuts: Meat In America is examining how the meat industry is changing the U.S. food system and the American diet.

While the average American eats hundreds of pounds of meat every year, many U.S. consumers are starting to cut back as health experts learn more about the risk of a diet high in proteins from meat and environmentalists challenge the way most meat is raised.

Abby Wendle

Panda, standing six feet tall and weighing almost a ton, is everything a show cow should be: broad-backed and round-rumped, with sturdy legs holding up her heft. Her hide -- thick and black, with splotches of creamy white -- fits her name.  "She's a big time cow," said Dan Byers, owner of Byers Premium Cattle, Inc. "She's a freak of nature is what she is."

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Thousands of people get sick every year from E. coli bacteria in their food. While the beef industry has gone to great lengths to limit illnesses in meat, the industry has been slow to adopt an E. coli vaccine that could keep people from getting sick.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Cattle producers may get a chance to vote on whether they want to double the increasingly controversial $1 beef checkoff charge.

Ranchers Rebel over Beef Check-off

Jan 20, 2015
Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star

From their small farms set in the rolling hills of northeast Kansas, two ranchers are raising a few cattle, and a lot of Cain.

No Antibiotics for Pigs and Cattle

Dec 12, 2013
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

The Food and Drug Administration wants to phase out antibiotics in meat.