Why are the only American meat options chicken, beef and pork? (io9):
Before the American Civil War, Americans actually ate very little in the way of beef. Before the country started pushing West, most of the cattle Americans kept were dairy cattle, the sort that earn their room and board before heading to the abattoir. And beef wasn't as easy to preserve as pork, which could be salted or smoked. But as Americans spread out across the continent, so too did cows and pigs, and the availability of land made beef ranching practical where it hadn't been on the East Coast.Of course, now beef is so popular we're burning down the rainforests to get more of it. And meat production has all but assured the impotence of antibiotics in the near future.
Even as urban Americans became increasingly removed from their food supply at the turn of the century, beef became an integral part of the American diet. A brief "beef famine" in 1902 saw both beef prices and American outrage soar. Even in the wake of the lean years of the Great Depression and during the meat rationing of World War II, the national appetite for beef continued to grow by leaps and bounds, and as incomes rose in post-war America, beef became a symbol of the suburban middle class, associated with, for example, backyard barbecues. And the beef industry matched the growing demanding for convenience, offering canned beef perfect for chili and hash. Beef wasn't just popular, not just a legacy from European meat-eaters; beef was modern.