AP PHOTOS: Beef's more than a way of life in Texas. It drives the economy and brings people together

ByDAVID GOLDMAN Associated Press and SCOTT MCFETRIDGE Associated Press

November 16, 2023, 10:54 AM

A drover moves longhorn steers back to their stable after a cattle drive through the Stockyards National Historic District in Forth Worth, Texas, Friday, April 21, 2023. The twice-daily drives re-enact the much larger drives through Fort Worth, which was the last major stop on the Chisholm Trail in the mid-1800s before the herds headed out on the plains for Kansas and Missouri. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas — Beef was at the heart of Texas long before there was a Texas.

As early as the 1600s, ranchers were raising thousands of cattle in the region, and as they expanded their herds and drew more settlers to the area, they built the foundation of what would become an independent country and then the 28th U.S. state.

Their cattle drives would cement the image of longhorn steers, rugged cowboys and awe-inspiring vistas into the nation’s consciousness as what it means to be a Texan. The state has changed dramatically since then, but that image remains.

The University of Texas Longhorns draw more than 100,000 fans to watch at their stadium in Austin and cheer as mascot Bevo stomps to a viewing area near the field. Tourists line up in Fort Worth to watch a recreation of a cattle drive down a city street. Teams of students don white coats and compete to identify cuts of beef and judge its quality. Urban cowboys ride mechanical bulls at roadhouses across the state.

And when it comes to food, nothing says Texas like sitting down to a smoked beef brisket. It’s a dish available in nearly any Texas restaurant. Everyone seems to have their favorite spot – be it a four-star restaurant or a humble food truck – where they can enjoy this simple, slow-cooked delicacy with friends.


EDITORS’ NOTE — This story is part of The Protein Problem, an AP series that examines the question: Can we feed this growing world without starving the planet? To see the full project, visit https://projects.apnews.com/features/2023/the-protein-problem/index.html

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