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Beef Blog: August 2014

Posted 8/17/2014 by Nichole Hockenberry, Pennsylvania Beef Council

Cattle Were “Green” Long Before Green Was Cool

Going green, being green or watching your carbon footprint is such a trendy thing to do these days. Growing up, I remember recycling was just something we did like creatures of habit. On weekends it was fun to haul all the soda cans with my grandfather to the recycling center and watch them get sucked into the machine. When it was all said and done we ended up with enough change to buy a popsicle or a candy bar. My family ate leftovers and I wore hand-me-downs. We made gifts out of pieces and parts of things – and here we are again talking about recycling and saving and reusing. 

Going green and being sustainable is the new buzz word on the streets. It’s everywhere from the clothing items, to carpet, to the items on a menu in a restaurant. Whether this is a marketing ploy or not, it is the world we live in and a society who hopes to leave the world in a better place for their children. We have a young generation who is hungry for information. With that being said, we have to get the good story out when it comes to our industry, the beef industry!

The beef industry defines sustainability by meeting the growing global demand by balancing environmental responsibility, economic opportunity and social diligence throughout the full supply chain. The U. S. beef supply is united and is determined to make an effort to improve our industry for the future generations. In order to fulfill our obligations, we need to set a clear path for continuous improvement over time, which protects our natural resources, promotes economic well-being for the beef community and provides social value for the supply chain, communities and stakeholders.

There are lots of myths that suggest removing meat from our menus and going meatless will help the planet. Unfortunately, this myth has been picked up more and more recently. The truth of the matter is that cattle can help improve the planet in numerous ways. Just to name a few, here are some of the improvements and benchmarks we’ve made since 2005-2011, that prove cattle were “green” long before green was trendy and the cool thing to do!

Improvements from 2005-2011 becoming a more sustainable Industry:

  • The beef industry has decreased its emissions to water by 10% by increased use of precision farming techniques
  • The beef industry has decreased its emissions to soil by 7% Improvements in crop yields improvements
  • The beef industry has decreased its greenhouse gas emissions by 2% simply due to improved genetics, health and nutrition of cattle

Sustainability refers to not only the preservation of the environment but also the continuation of U.S. beef production as a profitable and enduring entity. That means not only working to sustain environmental and animal resources but using concepts and practices that will allow U.S. beef production to grow in size and scope, thus offering a future for new generations in production agriculture.

How do you define sustainability on your farm and how do you get your story out to your community?

 

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Beef Blog: July 2014

Posted 7/14/2014 by Kathleen M. Laquale, PhD, ATC, LAT, LDN; Bridgewater State University

A Nutrition Professional's Take on The Sustainability Executive Summary 

Every day on my way to the university, I pass three cattle farms.  Neither snow nor rain keeps the cattle from grazing on the beautiful farmland. Riding past those amazing animals, I am reminded of the book report I did on Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle which was a depiction of the meatpacking industry.  From the use of diseased cattle as sausage meat to the “processing of unwanted products into the rendering tanks as lard and fertilizer”, it's fair to say that the nation was appalled to learn what actually went into their beef products.  As a result of the exposures of the deplorable conditions and the uproar by Americans, President Theodore Roosevelt passed the first Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.  Thus, Upton’s Sinclair’s book produced an immediate and powerful effect on Americans and on federal policy. 

Similar to how the journalists in 1906, had begun to play an important role in exposing wrongdoings, the impact an expose can have on the American public and federal policy is still viewed today.
 
In 2014, many Americans strongly believe that raising cattle creates havoc (wrongdoings) with our environment.  Terms such as eco-safe, carbon footprint, and of course sustainability abound.  “A sustainable food supply includes balancing efficient agricultural production with environmental, social and economic attributes.”  The National Cattlemen's Beef Association launched an environmental initiative in response to Livestock's Long Shadow, a book claiming 18% of all manmade greenhouse gases come from livestock – worse than transportation.  According to Jennifer Orr, Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, Director of Public Relations, “US farmers and ranchers continuously work to minimize their environmental impact while creating the world’s safest and affordable food supply” Consequently, one can understand why the farmers and ranchers wanted to get the facts straight concerning the impact of their livelihood (beef production) on the environment.

The Checkoff-funded Sustainability Research program was launched in 2011. “It is a proactive and innovative scientific approach to creating a sustainable beef product for a growing world population while gaining consumer confidence in beef”.  To encapsulate the research efforts of the Research program, The Sustainability-Executive Summary was published. It is a reflection of the beef community and the role it plays in responsible beef production.  “The effort expanded to investigate and evaluate sustainability of the industry. Two independent models were used to quantify the sustainability of the beef value chain.  One model was used to simulate biological processes on-farm and the other was used to quantify impacts in the post-harvest sector. By using the records as far back as 1970, the USDA and Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Nebraska, the research team led by Dr. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, was able to predict all on-farm processes through the use of the Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM). “This methodology made it possible to quantify improvement by comparing current footprints to those determined using the production practices of MARC in 1970 and 2005.”  According to Dr. Stackhouse-Lawson, MARC provided great representation of the industry side of beef production.  IFSM represented a unique picture into the biochemical reaction in the ecosystem.  She explained how that task is very daunting because factors such as 25 years of weather, the type of soil, the climate, the amount of rainfall (i.e. if there is less than two inches of rain there is a greater amount of methane in the soil), the varying temperature, winds and foliage all impact this biochemical reaction.  Subsequently, the impact on the environment will vary from state to state. I was amazed to learn that the assessment included thousands of data points to quantify the industry’s progress since 2005.  

Overall, the sustainability efforts of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association discussed in The Sustainability Executive Summary provided compelling evidence that  the sustainability efforts in the beef industry sector is not the doomsday footprint of beef production systems as reported in Livestock's Long Shadow.  For 14-16 months of their life, livestock in the beef industry graze on grass-just like the ones I view on my way to work. I hope I continue to view those amazing animals and from future research results we can state: “Raising Beef is Environmentally Sustainable”.

 

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Beef Blog: June 2014

Posted 6/11/2014 by Christie Brown, Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI)

Share Your Sizzle! 

Millennials…that fancy term society calls the generation between the ages of 20-34 that are generalized as being adventurous, uber social, and self-proclaimed foodies (among many other labeled claims).  I am indeed one of them.

I do crave adventure, particularly in the form of traveling to a new place, exploring a new town or hiking/running/biking a challenging course.  I almost need adventure; my husband is the same way.  If too many days go by of the same old, same old, we get a little edgy and the craving for exploring overpowers us.  Even breaking out of my normal ‘library’ of recipes and trying some bold new dish is enough to satisfy that craving for adventure.

I wouldn’t say I’m uber social though.  I am plugged into social media as much as the next young adult with my Instagram linked to my Facebook and Twitter, all generally accessed through my smart phone.  If I experience something cool, eat something delicious or learn a random new fact, I have the urge to share that with my tiny little online social circles.  I’m living several hours away from the bulk of my family and friends at the moment so being plugged into social media has helped us all still remain connected, somewhat superficially since it’s all online, but connected nonetheless.  I’m an introvert by nature.  I’ve had to work hard at breaking out of my comfort zone in most situations but I am still far from being outgoing.  I feel most comfortable chatting with one other person and a circle of three is sometimes a little much.  Close friends and family are different, but when it comes to interacting with other folks, I tend to button up and just observe.

The last big title, a self-proclaimed foodie.  I am exactly that and wouldn’t hide it.  I love food, I love to cook it and eat it.  But let me be clear, it has to be GOOD food.  If I am going to down anything, I want it to be either really nutritious or really good, preferably both.  As I’ve gotten older, my taste buds have really started to change.  Klondike bars, Swiss Rolls and generic ice cream aren’t nearly as good as I remember them being.  As a child and teen, the only qualification for being considered ‘good’ in my eyes was simply being sweet.  These days, I love playing around with colorful fruits and veggies in my cooking and cutting out half the sugar and white flour in my baking, I generally strive to make the best of whatever it is I’m making.  I like the flavors of the ingredients to come out in a dish and not be masked by super salty or super sweet sauces or gravies.   When it comes to cooking meats, it needs to be done absolutely spot on (get a meat thermometer!).  I can’t stand a crispy fried pork chop or an overdone steak.  I’m particular about my bacon and grind of my sausage.  Meat is, and always will be, the center of the plate for our family.  Not only does it need to be delicious meat, but it needs to be cooked properly.

Each year at the beef checkoff program’s Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI), a project of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, we brainstorm new seasonal beef promotions to launch in retail meat departments and on our social media platforms.  A little over two weeks ago we launched the “Share Your Sizzle” beef photo contest.  This is a Facebook Photo Contest being housed on the “Northeast Loves Beef” Facebook page.

This entire contest was designed around the Millennial generation.  The contest title says it all -    “Share Your Sizzle”  Essentially, we’re asking folks to break out their inner foodie spirit, purchase some fresh beef, be adventurous and try a fun new summertime beef recipe.  Then snap a photo of that beef dish and share it!  If they upload that photo on the Facebook App Contest and they live in the Northeast, they’re entered in to win a $500 grocery gift card.  Pretty simple and pretty cool, I think.

Here’s a sample of what I made a few nights ago.  Basically, a pan-seared ribeye cap steak (we don’t have a grill at our apartment), a fun sautéed corn and red pepper relish, and a side of baked beans.  Easy.  www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com has a ton of beef recipes to get you started with meal inspirations.

Ready…set…GO! #ShareYourSizzle

 

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Beef Blog: May 2014

Posted 5/19/2014 by Elizabeth Palmer, 2014 Pennsylvania Senior Beef Ambassador

Celebrating May as Beef Month, Blogger Style

Elizabeth Palmer, 2014 Pennsylvania Senior Beef Ambassador, recounts her experience during the recent May Beef Month Blogger Tour. Read her thoughts below and check back soon to hear from the bloggers.

On Monday, May 12, the Beef Council, along with local bloggers, toured the Masonic Village Farm in Elizabethtown, PA. Masonic Village has 550 acres that are used for both crops and grazing. They have roughly 180 cow/calf pairs of shorthorn purebreds and shorthorn crossbreds. Masonic also manages and owns a feedlot which is supplied directly by their cow/calf operation. While there, I found it very interesting that Masonic has all the aspects of the industry on the farm except for the packing plant. 

At the end of the tour, we were able to stop at Masonic’s retail store which sells the meat, fruit and vegetables grown on the farm. While at the store, Deputy Secretary Mathew Meals proclaimed the month of May to be Beef Month. Being able to tour such a successful beef farm was a great way to kickoff the start of Beef Month.

Read more about the event or view photos on Facebook. Don't forget to check back soon and hear what the bloggers had to say!

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Beef Blog: April 2014

Posted 4/9/2014 by Bridget Bingham, Pennsylvania Beef Council

 Sustainability...Where we've been and where we're going

I couldn’t help but get a chuckle out of the cartoon above.  Although the idea of this cartoon is silly, the reality of it is becoming more and more conceivable to those of us in agriculture.  It is our privilege and our duty to think beyond the here and now and to consider the impact our actions will have on the future condition of our planet.  

The topic of sustainability is becoming a priority for many producers, stakeholders and influencers as we strive to feed 9 billion people in 2050.  This means 70 percent more food will be required to feed the growing population and all agricultural production will be needed to meet the demand.  The beef industry recognizes the important role it plays in the production of food in a more sustainable manner. 

One of the biggest challenges is wrapping our minds and actions around what is expected of us both individually and as a beef community in the area of sustainability.  There is not a universal, clear-cut definition for sustainability.  Currently, the definition is as unique to each person as each snowflake that has more than amply blanketed the Commonwealth this winter.   If you have 100 people there will be 100 definitions.   Perhaps the most common definition is utilizing fewer resources to produce more, but we can find common ground by saying that it is all about getting better over time.  When we say this, we recognize that it is about improvements from the past but also continuing to improve in the future. 

To get our industry moving forward, the beef checkoff funded the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, a beef industry sustainability assessment, designed to capture how industry changes and improved management practices have affected beef’s long-term sustainability.   This research provides us with a benchmark for beef sustainability comparing 2005 and 2011. 

Recently, NCBA released the Sustainability Executive Summary which presents the results of the assessment in a format designed to target audiences who have advanced baseline knowledge of sustainability.  The executive summary is also intended to provide a broad overview of the work to individuals who are interested in learning more about the holistic nature of the project.

The high level findings from the assessment:
• In just 6 years, we have improved our overall sustainability by 5 percent since 2005. 
• If we focus on just the environment and social pillars we improved 7 percent.

Specific improvements from 2005 – 2011:
• The beef value chain lowered its energy use by 2 percent.
• The beef industry reduced land use by 4 percent. 

Assessment surprises:
• Greenhouse gasses started the sustainability conversation – now they are much less important than things like animal welfare and traceability.
• 40 percent of food is wasted, resulting in $2,500 year annually to a family.
• If we reduced beef waste by half, we could improve our sustainability by 10 percent.

A PDF version of this executive summary may be downloaded at www.beefresearch.org.  Please take a moment to look over this excellent source of information. 

Those of us in the beef industry can feel good about how we are positioned concerning beef’s past, present and future footprint.  This comprehensive assessment has given our voice credibility as we move the discussion forward with various stakeholders.

 

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Beef Blog: March 2014

Posted 3/17/2014 by Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN

Beef up your Healthy Diet 

March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is to “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” This theme mimics my philosophy that anything you choose to eat should be not only healthy, but also delicious. Red meat is definitely delicious, but can it be part of a healthy diet? Of course it can!

Beef Recommendations
Over the years, red meat has been demonized by the media leading many folks to believe that beef should only be eaten once a week. This recommendation is unfounded with no scientific evidence to back it up. Current recommendations from the United States Department of Agricultures (USDA) MyPlate and the American Heart Association (AHA) state that lean beef can be a regular part of a healthy diet. How much you should consume depends on age and gender.

Here are the lean protein recommendations based on USDA’s MyPlate. These recommendations are appropriate for those who get less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day, beyond everyday activities. Folks who are more physically active may be able to consume more while staying within their daily calorie needs.


Women:

Ages 19-30 years: 5 ½ ounces per day
Ages 31 years and above: 5 ounces per day

Men:
Ages 19-30 years: 6 ½ ounces per day
Ages 31-50 years: 6 ounces per day
Ages 51 years and above: 5 ½ ounces per day

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was designed to assess the health and nutrition status of children and adults in the United States. According to data extracted from the 1999 to 2004 NHANES Survey, Americans consume an average of 1.7 ounces of beef every day. This is well below the amounts recommended by the USDA.

The AHA also states red meat can fit into a healthy diet as long as you limit the amount. The AHA recommends limiting lean meat, skinless chicken and fish to less than 6 ounces per day, total. 

Go Lean with Protein!
Both the USDA and AHA recommend choosing lean cuts of beef. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the term “lean” is defined as meat that has less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5 ounce portion. Lean cuts of beef include top loin (strip) steak, top sirloin, tenderloin (filet mignon), and 93% or leaner ground beef. Besides meeting the “lean” criteria, 3 ounces of cooked beef contributes many good-for-you nutrients making it nutrient-dense food. Vitamins and minerals found in lean beef include vitamin B6, vitamin B12, niacin, iron, riboflavin, iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium. In addition, more than half the fat found in lean cuts of beef comes from the healthy unsaturated kind.

What should be eaten sparingly are higher fat cuts of beef and processed items like sausage and hot dogs. In addition to being high in artery clogging saturated fat, processed meats are also brimming with sodium. But this guideline doesn’t only apply to high fat beef. High fat cuts of any animal protein which doesn’t meet the FDA’s “lean” criteria should be limited.

Tips for Eating Lean Beef
In order to make beef part of your healthy diet, keep these tips in mind:

When shopping
• If purchasing lean beef from your butcher, request the exact portions needed. Remember, 4 ounces of raw beef is equivalent to 3 ounces cooked.
• If purchasing pre-packaged lean beef, divide portions out when you get home. Extra portions can be stored in re-sealable freezer-safe bags. Having exact portions on hand can help save money and keeps portions in check.

When cooking
• Stick with 3 ounce portions of lean beef, the size of a deck of cards or your smartphone.
• Trim off the visible fat before cooking.
• Use healthier cooking methods like stewing, grilling, broiling, and baking.
• Compliment your lean beef with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy for a well-balanced meal. 

Nutrition expert Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: more than 130 delicious, healthy recipes for every meal of the day (Grand Central Publishing, May 2014). She is a nutrition expert for FoodNetwork.com and contributor to FoodNetwork.com’s Healthy Eats blog for over 7 years. Toby has a monthly 'Ask The Expert' column in Today's Dietitian Magazine, is a contributor to U.S. News & World Report Eat + Run blog, a nutrition advisor for Sears' Fitstudio, and an adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. For more information, visit her website at www.tobyamidornutrition.com or follow her on twitter @tobyamidor

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Beef Blog: February 2014

Posted 2/17/2014 by Christie Brown, Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI)

Live Lean and Love Beef in 2014 

For those of us who have made New Year’s resolutions, we’re about one and a half months in.  The majority of the resolutions made each year are health, fitness and diet related.  These types of resolutions are very attainable and doable for all of us.  If the specific goal is realistic and the one making the goal is self-motivated and disciplined and has some sort of accountability, it has all the necessary ingredients for success. 

Whether your resolution was to lose weight, improve your VO2 max, increase your running mileage for the year or build muscle mass, proper nutrition will play a very important role in your new goal for 2014.

Weight gain, maintenance and loss all boils down to the basic ratio of calories consumed versus calories expended.  Calories consumed must be less than calories expended for weight loss and calories consumed must be greater than calories expended for weight gain.  Keeping your calorie intake equal to your calorie expenditures will simply maintain your weight.

In addition to keeping an eye on your calories consumed versus calories used ratio, it is very important to make your calories count and to steer clear of empty calories.  Choose nutrient dense foods such as lean animal proteins, dairy products, whole grains and a variety of fruits and vegetables. 

Let’s take a look at beef.  An average 3 ounce serving of cooked beef contains 150 calories.  It contains less than 10 grams of total fat, less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol. Take a closer look at Lean Beef 1011 to see the power of lean beef. It also contains 10% or more of 10 essential vitamins and minerals.  (That’s a lot of 10’s) Check out Beef’s Big Ten to lean more!

In addition to being deliciously flavorful and tasty, beef is satisfying, nutrient dense and lean!  It’s no wonder lean beef is a key source of nutrients for a health and fitness-focused New Year’s resolution! 

The beef checkoff, through the NEBPI launched the 6th annual New Year’s beef promotion on January 9th and this promotion will run until March 29th.   “Livin’ Lean. Lovin’ Beef” will remind shoppers to include lean beef in their healthy active lifestyles as they implement their new year’s resolutions.  This beef promotion encourages shoppers to visit www.LeanBeefSweepstakes.com for nutritional information, lean beef recipes, and the chance to win a $100 grocery gift card to their participating retailer.

Check out www.LeanBeefSweepstakes.com to participate in this 2014 beef promotion, funded by the beef checkoff and after you do, tell us about your 2014 New Year’s resolution!

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Beef Blog: January 2014

Posted 1/9/2014 by Rachael Wolters, 2014 National Beef Ambassador

The 2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show, from the eyes of a National Beef Ambassador

The Beef Council was thrilled to welcome members of the 2014 National Beef Ambassador Team to Pennsylvania for the annual Farm Show, January 4-11. Rachael, Emma and Sierra came from across the country to help educate consumers about where their beef comes from. 

While the weather created some travel challenges (as Pennsylvania winter weather can often do), the team arrived in time for opening weekend and participated in several events, including the PA Preferred™ VIP Reception, Today's Ag Blogger Tour and even spent some time with Dairy Carrie.

Racheal talks more about their time at the Farm Show in her blog, Cow's Eat Candy Too? Be sure to check it out! You can also keep up with the team on Facebook.

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Beef Blog: December 2013

Posted 12/12/2013 by Diane Henderson, Communications Manager, Cattlemen’s Beef Board

Going Digital with ‘Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner’

As you might have heard, some big changes are in the works in 2014 for the beef checkoff’s ‘Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner’ advertising campaign. In recognition of the importance of marketing via electronic devices -- such as smartphones, tablets, cell phones, computers and consoles – the Beef Promotion Operating Committee approved a shift from the traditional integrated print and radio campaign to a fully digital marketing campaign that will deliver beef messages on email, blogs and social networks.

A drastic change, for sure. But it corresponds with drastic changes in modern communication and certainly didn’t come about without sound reasoning aimed at increasing demand for beef among the generation of the future.

At the base of this decision is solid market research that identifies millennials – consumers now between about 20 and 34 years old – as the target audience for beef information, and corresponding research that defines social media as the best way to reach this audience.

We think you’ll understand the underlying strategy for the switch to digital through a quick review of a few examples of what we know about millennials and digital communications.

DID YOU KNOW, for example…
• … that the millennial population in the United States is the largest generation – at 80 million strong and the most connected? In fact, forecasts indicate that this important generation of consumers will outspend baby boomers by 2017, as household size and food spending decline among older generations. By 2020, millennial spending is expected to reach $1.4 trillion a year!

• … that nearly half of babies in the United States have used a computer or mobile device before their second birthday? In general, millennial families with children ages 8 and younger have recorded a five-fold increase in ownership of tablet devises, such as iPads, from 8 percent of all families in 2011 to an astounding 40 percent in 2013! Further, the percentage of children with access to some type of “smart” mobile device – such as smart phones or tablets – at home has jumped from 52 percent to 75 percent in just two years.

• … that millennials, who are just entering child-bearing years, currently are reducing the amount of beef that they serve to their kids? And research indicates that millennials will not increase their beef consumption if they do not have answers to some questions: About 75 percent say they want more information about how to cook and prepare steaks; 67 percent would like to see trained butchers on staff at supermarkets to provide cooking advice; 55 percent want more information about preparing and serving beef to children; 54 percent say it’s hard to know what cuts to choose in the meat case; and 50 percent would buy more beef if they knew more about the different cuts.

• … that while beef’s great taste is the No. 1 reason consumers eat beef, health is the No. 1 reason millennials are limiting their beef intake? But there is hope, as research indicates that these consumers’ knowledge about beef nutrition is the missing link. In fact, 45 percent of millennials say they would be “very” or “extremely” likely to add more beef meals to their menus after they discover that beef is nutrient-rich, lean, and compares favorably to chicken when it comes to nutrition.

• … that consumers in the millennial generation are the ones asking the most questions about how farmers and ranchers raise their food? They want information about animal welfare and proof of human treatment of animals. They want to know exactly how cattle are raised and if there’s any truth to so-called “factory farming.” They want measures of the impact of beef production on the environment.

All of this translates to tremendous opportunities for the Beef Checkoff Program, because millennials are a growing generation, with growing families and growing influence, who will make beef-buying decisions for the next 40-plus years.

For millennials, knowledge plus experience equals believing. With their use of digital communications growing exponentially – and research showing that this generation is more likely to share experiences widely through social networks -- your Beef Checkoff Program’s shift to digital advertising is about making real, meaningful connections to share the positive, science-based story about beef nutrition and production with consumers at this critical juncture.

It’s all about making sure that Beef is What’s for Dinner for millennials and generations to come!

 

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Beef Blog: November 2013

Posted 11/15/2013 by Felicia Stoler, DCN, MS, RD, FACSM

This RD Eats Beef – Reflections of a Farm Tour

When people find out I am an RD, they assume I’m a vegan.  I’m a flexitarian – I eat mostly plant based foods, but do eat animal products.  It is usually followed by, “you don’t eat red meat do you?”  I do – I love the taste of it and the nutrients.  I don’t eat it every day.  I usually eat the leanest cuts of beef.  Once in a while, I must just share a porterhouse, cowboy or ribeye.  My weakness is beef Carpaccio, over arugula with shaved Parmesan, olive oil and lemon juice.

I have the utmost respect for farmers.  Last spring, I received a complimentary copy of the first issue of Modern Farmer magazine.  There is something romantically simple about the life of a farmer.  It is hard work; by no means do I take the physical efforts or ignore the stress that farmers experience when Mother Nature wreaks havoc on their livelihood.  The one thing that I admire about most farmers that I’ve met, is they always talk about their families, their ability to have more time with their kids, and what a good “quality of life” living on a farm provides.

We assume quality of life is highly correlated with financial wealth.  Yet farmers see the bigger picture and have great job satisfaction.  I’ve never seen CEOs of financial companies or food companies show pictures of their spouse/partner and/or kids.  Farmers always do.  Less than two percent of our US population lives on a farm and is a farmer.  There are fewer farmers with less land to be used to create food for the increased number of mouths on this planet that need to be fed.

This was not my first trip to an Angus beef farm.  Angus cows have black coats and trace back to Scotland.  I’m amazed by the curiosity and friendly nature that cows have with humans.  Cows used for beef have a diet of plants – silage, grass, and hay with a multivitamin/mineral mix.  Let me note, this farm had one big bull – the rest were females.  It is ironic in the food and animal world, females get the preferential treatment.  The males just don’t play nicely on the farm.  Animals are similar to humans in that they have “pack” behavior and there’s always a few dominant leaders.

A common urban legend is that the hormones and antibiotics used in cows cause early maturation and menstruation among young girls.  In a recent dairy farm tour, a pediatrician showed data points looking at peak dairy consumption in the US – it was in the 1960s.  The gradual reduction in age of menstruation are being caused by other factors (like obesity).  I asked our host – who is a seventh generation farmer – if he uses antibiotics or hormones in his cows.  He said, “that will be a very short discussion, the answer is no.”  Good farming practices should prevent cows from getting sick.  No growth hormones are used for size or to help stimulate pregnancy.

Antibiotics are only used if needed… just as you would with your child or pet, if they are sick.  The notion of antibiotic resistance is a concern across all species.

I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Dennis Byrne, the farmer at Herr’s Angus Beef Farm.  I love that they feed their cows a blend of snacks they nicknamed the Herr’s Steer Mix from the Herr’s factory: popcorn, potato chips, pretzels and cheese puffs.  Cows really eat anything.

We had a blind taste test.  Despite all that we have heard about “grass finished beef” being allegedly better for one’s health – to my discerning palate, the corn fed just tastes better.  For me, food is all about the taste… and nutrient value.  In fact, one of my reasons for not being a vegan is economy of calories… a small six ounce piece of meat is all I need for my daily protein needs.  Amino acids are found in vegetables, grains and dairy products.

My kids LOVE beef!  The skirt steak that I brought home from Walbridge Farm received rave reviews from my teens who said it was the best tasting steak they had ever had.  Note – it was frozen and cryovac packed.  They were able to taste the difference in the meat from the “local” farmer.  It was not organic.  It was raised with care and responsibility.  The one message that the farmers consistently want us to share: they do have GOOD farming practices and they wish the media would stop focusing on the exception – not the rule.

Farmers take their responsibility in feeding the planet very seriously.  We owe them gratitude and respect.  Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!

To read more from Felicia, visit www.feliciastoler.com.

 

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Beef Blog: October 2013

Posted 10/10/2013 by Christie Brown, Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI)

What is Your Most Valuable Protein this Fall?

A chill is in the air as the 2013 fall season approaches here in Pennsylvania.  Energetic school children can be seen walking to and from school, college towns are booming every other Saturday as tailgaters’ crowd stadium parking lots, and it seems like each community across the state is holding a road race at least once during the fall months. 

The beef checkoff, through the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI) is highlighting beef as the most valuable protein this season by partnering with 172 retail locations throughout the northeast to launch the fall tailgating beef promotion.  Local Pennsylvania retailer, Redner’s Warehouse Markets, Reading, will be displaying the promotional point-of-sale material in their meat departments across the eastern part of the state, as well as in their Maryland and Delaware locations.  This retail promotion will run from September 9-November 1.  Visit www.TailgateWithBeef.com to see a list of all the participating retailers. 

In an effort to reach the Redner’s shoppers outside of the store, a partnership was forged once again with the beef checkoff to extend this fall tailgating beef promotion at a large consumer event located in the Redner’s shopping area.  This time, instead of tailgate enthusiasts, the audience will be distance runners!  Bethlehem, PA, will be hosting the 2nd annual Runner’s World Half Marathon Festival October 18-20, and beef will, once again, be the most valuable protein to runners.

Beef checkoff staff will be teaming up with Redner’s to serve and sample 1,500 Roast Beef & Veggie Wraps to race expo attendees.  The fall tailgating recipe booklets, featuring the wrap recipe, will be distributed  to runners along with wrap samples.  Expo attendees will also be encouraged to ‘like’ the “Northeast Loves Beef” on Facebook and enter the promotional sweepstakes for a chance to win $250 in free groceries and other beef related prizes.  Learn more about the NEBPI by visiting www.nebpi.org.  

Tell us, whether you are an avid tailgater cheering on your favorite team or a road runner, what is your fuel for the finish?

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Beef Blog: September 2013

Posted 9/12/2013 by Olivia Rush, 2013 Pennsylvania Beef Ambassador

Greetings, from the 2013 PA Beef Ambassador!

Hi Everyone!  My name is Olivia Rush and I am privileged to be the 2013 Pennsylvania Beef Ambassador.  I am a junior at Penn State University where I am majoring in Animal Science and minoring in Agribusiness Management.  I was selected as beef ambassador in March 2013, and have had a blast in my present role. 

During the past six months, I have had the opportunity to explore many aspects of the beef industry, from cattle production to consumer promotion. In May alone, I traveled to Maryland for the National Harbor Food & Wine Festival, visited Clarion Farms dairy beef operation, meet the PA Secretary of Agriculture, and attended the Fox Chase Farm to Table Day.  June brought more exciting events such as Oregon Family Farm Days in Lititz, and the Reading Fightin’ Phils Farmer’s Night.  I was also given the chance to attend one of the PA Beef Council’s board meetings and tour the Wyalusing Cargill plant in July.

My next big event is coming up at the end of September.  I will be traveling to Springdale, Arkansas to compete for one of five spots on the National Beef Ambassador Team.  I will participate in a number of different competition areas, including a consumer presentation, media interview and issue response.  I am excited about this opportunity and honored to represent Pennsylvania!

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