The Beauty in the Beef

For the love of South Dakota Beef

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Team BEEF in Boston

Fueling Up with Lean Beef!

The beef checkoff, through its Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI), saw to it that sure runners were fueled with beef for the 117th Boston Marathon. Runners and their families made their way to the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo, April 12- 14, to pick up their race numbers and packets. During the three-day Expo, about 80,000 health-conscious athletes and supporters had the opportunity to hear messages about the important role that lean beef plays in a heart-healthy diet. More than 27,000 of the world’s most elite athletes would be running the Boston Marathon on Monday morning and were glad to hear that lean beef was a great recovery food for after their race!

We would like to mention our thoughts and prayers remain with those affected by the tragedies in Boston last week. We are very thankful all of our staff, team members and Team BEEF runners were safely away from the finish line at the time of the incident.

National Beef Ambassador Team members Katie Stroud, Erin Morrison and Chandler Mulvaney were on site to distribute more than 4,000 90-percent lean beef sticks to Expo participants. Visitors enjoyed talking with the Ambassadors about how cattle are raised and the ways to incorporate lean beef into an athlete’s diet. Booth visitors had the chance to win an “I Heart Beef” cowbell through use of social media on site. Ambassador team members also used Twitter and Facebook to talk about their time in Boston and the impact they were making.

Eight Team BEEF runners participated in the Boston Marathon this year — including runners from Colorado, Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. They serve as great spokespeople for the industry and have a passion for promoting the health benefits of beef. Check out Team Beef runner profiles at www.NEBPI.org.

Team members said they enjoyed being recognized as Team BEEF and loved hearing the “Go Beef!” cheers from the crowd as they made their way to the finish line. Check out Team BEEF runners Bill Kosina’s andBrian Steven’s posts to the “Why I run” section of the Boston Globe. In Kosina’s hometown of Richfield Springs, NY, he also was selected for a TVinterview on WKTV about why he is a part of Team BEEF and how lean beef fuels him for the finish. This was his sixth Boston Marathon, and he joins all other team members in looking forward to running in Boston again next year for Team BEEF!

For more information about the beef checkoff at the 2013 Boston Marathon contact Jennifer Harroldjharrold@pabeef.org or visit the NEBPI website for photos and more event details.

*Top photo: (L to R) Chandler Mulvaney, Christie Brown, Sarah Bohnenkamp, Katie Stroud and Erin Morrison; Bottom photo: Sam Scruggs from Kansas City.

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.

The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.

Monday Myth Buster

As a nutritionist for the beef Industry I get asked a lot of questions regarding beef’s nutrition quality.  Now, whether or not people value my “biased” insight- I can provide you with scientifically researched FACTS regarding some commonly asked questions and concerns.

For me to address every misconception I’ve come across would be close to impossible.  So, I’ll start here: “Is grass-finished or grain-finished beef better?”

1. Incorrect Claim: Grass-fed animals don’t need antibiotics.

Fact: All antibiotic use contributes to resistance in some way. The real question is whether it’s impacting public health. Multiple studies have reviewed whether antibiotic use in cattle production causes an increased risk to consumers by developing antibiotic-resistant foodborne or other pathogens, and none have found a connection. (Journal of Food Protection, July 2004Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2003). Some cattle receive a class of antibiotics known as ionophores that promote the good bacteria in the rumen and help cattle better digest and use their food (kind of like a probiotic). The World Health Organization, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) agree ionophores are not important to human medicine.

2. Incorrect Claim: Perennial grasses are better for soil.

Fact: Cattlemen understand the importance of managing grazing pastures in an environmentally responsible way. Most cattle spend the majority of their lives on grass, whether they are grass-finished or grain-finished. Approximately 85 percent of U.S. grazing land isn’t suitable for growing crops according to USDA’s Major Uses of Land Report: 2002. Grazing cattle on this land more than doubles the area that can be used to raise food. On average, each cattle farmer and rancher has more than a dozen different practices in place to accomplish environmental goals such as nurturing wildlife, preventing erosion or conserving and protecting water. (Cattlemen’s Stewardship Review, Profile of U.S. Cattlemen survey, July 2010).

3. Incorrect Claim: Grass-fed animals are healthier, and their meat is safer for you.

Fact: Cattle can get the nutrients they need from eating a wide range of plants, including a variety of grains and grasses. E. coli O157:H7 is capable of living in the digestive system of all cattle, regardless of what they eat. While some scientific evidence does show that manipulating cattle diets can affect digestive bacteria levels, these studies have not found that a particular feeding regimen can reliably reduce levels of E. coli O157:H7. In addition, researchers have found no difference in the safety of beef from grass-fed cattle versus grain-fed cattle. (Pre Harvest Control of E. coliO157:H7). Cattle farmers and ranchers have invested nearly 30 million in safety research and the industry annually spends more than $550 million developing, validating and implementing safety measures from pasture to plate. (Cattlemen’s Stewardship Review). The beef industry has been credited in part for helping reduce the risk of illness from E. coli, whichaccording toCDC, was cut in half between 2007 and 2010.

4. Incorrect Claim: Grass-fed animals produce the right kind of fat.

Fact: Cattle diets can modestly effect beef’s fatty acid profile. For example, extended grain feeding can result in beef with increased levels of monounsaturated fat (the same heart-healthy kind found in olive oil), while feeding grass longer (depending on the type of grass), can influence the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in beef. However, because the fat profiles are only modestly influenced, most experts agree that when beef is consumed in the context of the total diet, the human health benefits from beef’s nutrient rich package and high quality protein are the same from all beef choices. (Beef Choices and The Fatty Acid Profile of Beef).

5. Incorrect Claim: Corn fed to feedlot cattle is fossil-fuel intensive and heavily subsidized.

Fact: This claim, made by Cornell University’s Dr. David Pimentel, in a March 31, 2002 New York Times Magazine is outdated given tremendous advancements in how agriculture products are grown and raised. Corn growers today, for example, get a 64 percent better yield per acre than they did in the 1980s. In addition, it takes 30 percent less land, 53 percent less irrigation water and 43 percent less energy to raise a bushel of corn today. This continuous improvement over time has also meant a 67-percent decrease in soil erosion and a 53-percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. (Field to Market National Report: Corn).

6. Incorrect Claim: Perennial pasture reduces flooding and pollution-laden runoff.

Fact: Globally, humans still directly consume nearly two-thirds of total cereal grain production, while beef cattle consume only 5 percent, according to the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. Cattle diets also include a variety of ingredients other than corn, with cattle farmers and ranchers utilizing renewable feeds like distillers grains, cornstalks, wheat stubble, citrus pulp and almond hulls, for example, feed that has been left over from the primary harvest but cattle can utilize as part of a balanced diet. Even if grains like corn and soybeans were not used as ingredients in livestock feed, they still would be grown for human goods like corn-syrup, ethanol, edamame and other derivatives from these plants.

7. Incorrect Claim: Perennial pasture is a carbon sink.

Fact: In November 2006, a report from the United Nations (U.N.) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) titled Livestock’s Long Shadow was released. Publicity surrounding the report focused on the finding that livestock production accounts for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, the FAO report does not call for reduced consumption of animal products and, in fact, suggests U.S. livestock production practices be considered a model for the rest of the world. According to Livestock’s Long Shadow (Page 17), intensification provides “large opportunities for climate change mitigation,” “can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation,” and is the long-term solution to sustainable livestock production. Also, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the entire U.S. agriculture sector accounts for just 6 percent of the country’s total annual GHG emissions. Of this, livestock production specifically is estimated to contribute just 2.8 percent. (EPACritical Analysis of Livestock’s Long Shadow).

8. Incorrect Claim: Modern grazing methods match the efficiencies of industrial-scale grain production.

Fact: One of the beautiful things about the beef community is that cattle are raised in all 50 states. This includes states like Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas that also experience a winter season. Farmers and ranchers utilize their local resources and, through grain-finishing, are able to feed cattle year-round, not just when grass is available. That means a fresh, nutritious beef supply is available to consumers when they want it. In addition, according to research from Dr. Jude Capper while at Washington State University, it takes significantly longer for grass-finished cattle to reach market weight than grain-finished cattle. That means more environmental resources like water, feed and energy per pound for grass-finished beef. (The environmental impact of beef production in the United States: 1977 compared with 2007Journal of Animal Science, 2011).

9. Incorrect Claim: Pasture-raised animals are treated more humanely.

Fact: More than 90 percent of cattle in the United States are handled according to practices established by the farmer and rancher funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program. BQA was established in 1987 by the Beef Checkoff Program to provide cattle farmers and ranchers with the tools and training necessary to assure animal health and wellbeing as well as provide a safe, quality product. BQA unites animal scientists, veterinarians, feed suppliers, animal health companies, meatpackers, retailers and state and federal regulators with producers to achieve the common goal of quality care, and ultimately, quality beef. 

10. Incorrect Claim: Grass-fed animals take less of a toll on the environment.

Fact: Eating meatless isn’t a shortcut to saving the planet or eating healthy. Beef is environmentally and nutritionally efficient. Raising a serving of beef today requires less land, water and energy than it did 30 years ago and beef has an 16 percent smaller carbon footprint. (The environmental impact of beef production in the United States: 1977 compared with 2007Journal of Animal Science, 2011).Each serving of beef provides 10 essential nutrients, including protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins. A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides all of the essential amino acids you need in about 150 calories on average. The same effect from plant protein requires 2-3 times more servings and many more calories. You can enjoy lean beef guilt-free, knowing that including it in a healthy, balanced diet is good for you and the planet.

I hope this will clear the air for some of your curious about grain-fed vs. grass-fed beef! Stay tuned for more Myth Busters coming soon!

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