Re "Beef goes high steaks," April 9

In order to appreciate the article on the price of beef, it helps to know math and statistics. As a mathematics professor at Cal State Long Beach, perhaps I can help.

The price of beef rose from $4.91 to $5.28 in one year. That's an increase of about 7.5%. Since Feb. 8, gasoline prices in Los Angeles have risen from an average of $3.58 a gallon to $4.14, a 15.6% increase in a much shorter period of time, and gasoline is a larger fraction of most people's budget than beef.

Finally, the chart along with the article shows the portion of the increase between about $4.90 and $5.30, making the rise seem much greater than it actually is.

Visually misleading charts such as this have been well known and written up; see, "How to Lie With Statistics."

James Stein

Long Beach

The record meat prices don't have to dampen anyone's cookout plans.

People can grill veggie burgers and other flavorful vegan foods, which are still relatively inexpensive compared to meat, eggs and dairy products. And unlike hamburgers and steaks, vegan foods are cholesterol-free and generally low in saturated fat, which means you won't have to shell out even more money for blood pressure pills and weight-loss plans.

Most important, you'll save animals and the environment.

Heather Moore

Norfolk, Va.

Moore is a staff writer at the PETA Foundation.

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