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AP Photo/Matt Marton
We have so many tacos to eat.
TACO TUESDAY

The US is sitting on 2.6 billion tacos worth of meat and cheese

By Annaliese Griffin

The US has enough surplus meat and cheese in cold storage right now for one hell of a taco party.

Cheese storage in the US has been steadily rising over the past decade, and at of the end of June 2018, there was a record four pounds of cheese in storage for every American. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that thanks to bumper grain crops and rising demand for meat around the world the US meat producers have upped their numbers over the past few years, leading to a record surplus of poultry, pork, and beef in excess of 2.5 billion pounds, as well.

Sure, you can conceptualize that in pounds per capita, in calories, or in cubic yards. But why not take the opportunity to use one of the best tools on the internet and calculate it in tacos instead?

The taco bar party calculator on CalculateThis.com suggests that for 325,700,000 guests—the current US population—a gracious host would need 108,726,552 pounds of ground beef. That doesn’t even come close to touching the 407,123,000 pounds of boneless beef that the USDA reported being in cold storage as of June 30, 2018 (frozen beef stockpiles are still below their peak in 2015, but the total amount of meat in storage is at a record high).

For cheese, the taco calculator suggests 25,445,761 pounds of shredded cheddar and 25,445,762 pounds of shredded Monterey Jack. Currently the USDA reports 557,939,000 pounds of cheese categorized as “other.” That pales in comparison to the 803,284,000 pounds of American cheese currently in storage, which would produce a billion pound vat of queso once you added all the other ingredients.

The taco bar calculator estimates two tacos per person, and assuming there’s a solid vein of cheddar lumped in with all the nameless “other” cheese in storage, the entire country could celebrate taco Tuesday once a week for a month without even delving in the realm of ground turkey, chicken tinga, or carnitas tacos.

That’s about 2.6 billion ground beef and cheese tacos, total.

And if you’re worried about where all those tortillas or crispy taco shells are going to come from (651,400,000 per taco party), well, there’s a glut of food grade white corn on the market right now, too.  You will though, America, have to chip in to bring the 41,287,655 containers of sour cream, 24,692,214 heads of iceberg lettuce, and 45,954,955 bottles of taco sauce that the taco bar calculator indicates are needed for a truly superlative taco party for 325,700,000. There are, after all, no free lunches, even when mountains of surplus meat and cheese are involved.