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By Shelley Johnson, R.D.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program

For decades consumers have been exposed to all kinds of conflicting information about the nutritional benefits of all types of food in the marketplace – this includes beef. Questions about food and health are often generated by emerging – and ever-evolving – science of diet and health.

Attention to nutrition began to escalate in the 1970s, when nutrition researchers captured the attention of legislators, regulators and those in a position to give dietary advice. It created an opportunity for the beef industry to deliver messages about the nutritional value of beef.

Over the past few decades, the beef industry has made progress in helping promote the use of sensible, science-based information about beef’s role in health. As a result of this straight-forward attitude, the beef industry has never been in a better position to promote beef’s positive role in the diet.  Following are encouraging updates about beef nutrition that will help set the story straight:

Following are encouraging updates about beef nutrition that will help set the story straight:

Fact: Heart-healthy diets with four ounces of lean beef can actually improve cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk. More than 20 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have showed that healthy diets containing 4-6 ounces of lean red meat, even daily, may improve cholesterol, blood pressure and weight management. The low fat diets that were once being promoted for heart health are not recommended anymore as a result of new science that examines the influence of the total diet on health.proteinbenefits

Furthermore, the fat profile of beef is frequently misunderstood. One third of beef’s saturated fatty acid is stearic acid, which has a neutral effect on cholesterol. And more than half ofbeef’s fatty acids are monounsaturated fat – the same kind found in olive oil.

Fact: Despite upward trends in obesity, as waistlines have expanded, beef intake has declined. The Meat, Eggs and Nuts category of American food consumption has increased just four percent between 1970 and 2008, while overall caloric intake has increased by 30 percent. Americans consume twice the refined grains recommended by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, and added sugars contribute 16 percent of the total calories to the American diet.

protein-challengeA related fact: higher protein diets with beef can help manage weight. Research shows that protein-rich diets that include beef support weight management. If you’d like to test this out for yourself, sign up for the 30 Day Protein Challenge at BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

Fact: Building a healthy diet with lean beef can be a calorie-saver and add valuable nutrients. The new Dietary Guidelines released in 2015 emphasize variety and flexibility, and recommend lean meat. By-and-large, consumers are responding, and eating beef responsibly. Current research shows that beef consumption contributes only 5 percent of the calories to Americans’ diets, while supplying more than 10 percent of the daily value for 10 essential nutrients like zinc, iron and B-vitamins.

As Americans continue to battle the obesity crisis, beef can be part of the solution as a high-quality protein source, providing more nutrients in fewer calories than many other foods. Compared to beef, it takes more than twice the calories to get the same amount of protein from beans, nuts and grains.

Fact: Scientific evidence does not support a cause-and-effect relationship between meat and cancer. Some cancer reports in the past several years have suggested there might be a link between colorectal cancer and red meat. Furthermore, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at the World Health Organization (WHO) last fall said red meat was probably carcinogenic to humans.

After the IARC results were announced, media reports generated many questions and challenges about the conclusion. A few days later, though, the WHO attempted to temper their communication about the conclusions in the report.

One reason is probably that independent reviews of these reports present a different interpretation. They assert that “the totality of the available evidence does not support an independent positive association between red meat and cancer.”

Why? Because associations were based on correlation (not causation) in epidemiologic research (the study of health and disease among populations); because about half the time, no association was found; because when they were found, associations were weak; because initial results were confounded by unhealthy diets and lifestyles; and because the evidence is weakening over time with improved research quality.

Opportunities

The beef industry, through its Beef Checkoff Program, is doing more than just answering these questions to help people build healthier diets with beef.

For instance, we’re showing consumers how they can pair beef with healthy grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy to improve nutrition profiles. Research has shown that consumers who ate more lean beef also ate more servings of vegetables. A new checkoff-funded focus, Families in Motion, is helping demonstrate that beef’s nutrient combination – zinc, iron and protein – provides essential fuel for active families, and when paired with fruits, vegetables and whole grains, beef makes a foundation of a nourishing meal. More information can be found on the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” website.

The bottom line is that there is credible information that Americans can build better diets with beef. It’s a science-based message everyone can appreciate. beefsbig10

 

The Congratulatory Slap

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By Dean Fish, Santa Fe Ranch Manager

Fall fair season is upon us! Many of us have family members or friends who are getting those fat steers ready for their shining moment in the ring. The way it works in your mind is that the “apple of your eye,” i.e. your kid, is leading the calf that is slapped by the judge as the Grand Champion Steer. This happens once at each county or state fair every year. The complications arise when there are multiple “apple of your eye” types entered in the fair. The more entries, the more likely that you will not get the winner’s slap.

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The Grand Champion slap happened for the Fish family!

Between my son Garrett and I, we have campaigned twenty such fat steers. Between the two of us, we have gotten the grand champion slap once. Once. That’s like batting .050 in baseball. You would certainly get cut from my beloved Diamondbacks baseball team for that, although you might still be able to play for the Padres. In the interest of fair disclosure (pun intended), he had one Reserve Champion. I had three Reserve Champion steers, however, Garrett believes he is still ahead of my record because he won the “big one.” Whatever he would like to believe is fine. Three trumps two in my book and since I am writing this blog, I have the last word.

In my multiple careers as an exhibitor, parent, leader and spectator of fat steer shows I have reflected on the many, egregious ways that a steer show is lost. They fall under two main categories: dishonesty or incompetence.

 

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A fun #FlashbackFriday: Dr. Selke, long time Livestock Judging Coach at the University of Arizona and acclaimed Livestock Judge, doing his thing Santa Cruz County Fair, home county of the Fish family.

Outright dishonesty: Somehow the judge is crooked, bribed, or somehow otherwise enticed to select your rival’s steer. It has to be. That is the only way that an obviously inferior steer shown by a less polished showman could have beat your kid, right? Even if the judge has an impeccable reputation, has judged major stock shows and trained under the leading livestock evaluators of these fine United States, he or she really took that bribe or helped a fellow breeder out by selecting another’s steer. Maybe he or she was instructed which brands or ear tags were supposed to win. If you hang around the sideline long enough, you will begin to learn all about the various, devious ways that judges can pick the “right” steer. Let’s not even start on the fitter’s culpability in this “fix.” Fitters can do all kinds of stuff from airing and pumping steers to gluing fake tailheads and flanks on calves. Of course, any number of feeding tricks are employed to make sure that the winning steer handles correctly.

Outright incompetence: Either the judge is blind, hungover, pre-hungover, tired, or under some other influence that does not allow him or her to make a rational, educated decision. If they were competent, they would have picked your steer as the champ. Otherwise, how could that crippled, yield grade 5 no-good calf from the other side of the county beat your perfect calf? What happens when they get a swine breeder to judge a steer show? Oh boy, wait until the Livestock Committee or Fair Board hears about this! It is a well-known fact that a judge who picked a Charolais steer in 2007 would never pick a black calf to win it all in 2016.

I hope that by now you realize that this is a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the market steer experience. There is not a better way, in my opinion, to instill valuable life skills in a young person than by raising and exhibiting livestock. My participation in 4-H helped to develop critical life skills that I use to this day. My son is a much better person because of the experience and knowledge he gained by showing cattle and goats. One of the most important things that we learned as a family is how to lose. I will confess that I caught myself at my first county fair soon after my son’s defeat talking to the judge. In the heat of the moment, I proclaimed to him that a “good little one beats a bad big one.” I immediately recognized that as very poor sportsmanship and apologized, but the damage was done. It was difficult to swallow my pride and admit that maybe a “good big one beats a good little one.” Regardless, the judge has a hard decision to make and a lot of times it boils down to personal preference.

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A very young Garrett Fish with one of his prized goats.

 

I hope that you go out to your county fair, state fair or other livestock show this fall and cheer on all of the livestock exhibitors. Only one of those exhibitors is going to be truly happy, but each and every one deserve your support and encouragement. Also, take a moment to thank all of the volunteers that dedicate their time to help keep this great tradition of livestock shows thriving. Sure, it’s not perfect, but they are doing a competent, honest job of running a good show. Ribbons fade and trophies disappear over time, but the lessons learned remain.  And if you, or someone you know, gets that “congratulatory slap,” make sure that you enjoy it. Heaven, and the Fish family, knows they are rare.

Sometimes It’s Not About Beef

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This week’s blog is not about beef because we know (this may shock you, so make sure you’re sitting down) it isn’t always about beef. Cathy Wilkinson, of BossCook – Comfort Food for an Uncomfortable Time, provided us with this special treat of a blog after a recent celebration took place for Lauren. Thank you to Cathy and Lauren for allowing us to share this special story. And delicious brownie recipe.


Sometimes it’s not about beef.

Sometimes it’s about sweetness, chocolate, bourbon, love, and the promise of a lifetime of commitment.

Sometimes it’s about waiting with faith, patience, and anticipation for your true, one and only love who will be at your side for the rest of your life.

IMG_2113Sometimes it’s about a lovely young woman who is kind, smart, generous, fun provoking, and wise who makes a batch of brownies for her true love and gets an engagement ring in return. Sounds like a fair exchange to me!

I only know Lauren through her work and leadership with the Arizona Beef Council, Facebook, and cooking or beef events. Many of you know her so well and so intimately that anything I write is merely confirmation of what you’ve known for a long time. I follow her adventures (in a race car with her Dad, on a horse, or speaking to the beef industry with passion and knowledge) with a smile because, well, Lauren is the kind of person who just makes people SMILE. I love that. A lot. Lauren has a gift for making people feel valued and she inspires people to be happy, to be productive, and to be better people.

When I shared my recipe for “Salted Butterscotch Bourbon Brownies” with her, we jokingly renamed them “Put a Ring on it Brownies” because they are the kind of brownie that makes a man go all weak at the knees. And, at the time, she had no idea how true that would turn out to be!

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I’m thrilled Gregg loves the brownies, but, of course, it wasn’t the brownies that promted the proposal. It was Lauren. She’s one of my favorite people on the planet and I’m so honored she is a friend. I know she will become a wonderful wife, partner, and best friend to her brownie victim, Gregg. He’s one lucky, VERY lucky guy.

So in honor of their engagement and in hopes of making many more guys (or gals!) weak in the knees, here’s the recipe. But to be absolutely sure your strategy works, you should probably grill them a steak too.

“Put a Ring on It Brownies”
A box of Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownie Mix (and here you thought these were from scratch!)
2 eggs
1 stick of butter, melted
1 shot of bourbon (my choice is “Maker’s Mark”)
1/2 bag of butterscotch chips
Chunky sea salt (my choice is Maldon)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, and bourbon. Stir in the brownie mix, until just combined. Pour batter into generously buttered 8” X 8” nonstick
pan. Sprinkle with the sea salt all over the top, to preference. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Let cool for several minutes, then flip pan over onto cutting board, give the bottom of the pan a good whack to release brownies then cut into desired size pieces.
Stand back and let the proposals fly!

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Disclaimer: The groom-to-be would like to make mention that he did not ask just because of the brownies. But they did make for a delicious celebration treat.

Food Waste Infographic

rose-bowl-stadium-3Food waste is a huge issue here in our country. In the United States alone, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted. That’s more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. Let’s put it in perspective.  That’s enough to fill a 90,000 seat Rose Bowl stadium every day! Do you want to take a guess at how much money that is for each American family? $2,500 in food annually. This month, we’re challenging people to take small steps towards wasting less food because together we can make a big impact.

food_wasteThe 30-Day Food Waste Challenge sheds light on useful leftover recipes, meal planning, and storage tips to help you get the most out of the food you already have! Join us to waste less and save more by signing up here.

To start off, we’re challenging you to shop your cabinets this month! Search for recipes by ingredients and use the food you already have or almost forgot about to waste less. www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com offers quick and easy recipes by meal type, cooking method, and beef cuts. 

Here are some helpful tips to avoid food waste:

  • Fight waste with awareness. Did you know that the film packaging used for store-bought meats is not moisture-vapor resistant? If the meat you purchase is not wrapped in a heavy-duty film, make it last longer by putting it in a freezer safe bag or container.
  • Protein is an essential macronutrient, which means, it’s not just for dinner. Use last night’s steak in breakfast tacos or throw leftover fajita strips in a baggie with your favorite veggies for a well-balanced midafternoon snack.
  • Meal prep and menu planning are great ways to waste less food. Do you know how to portion your food?
  • Take action in the fight against food waste and encourage others to do the same on social media using #WasteLess.
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Let’s cut to the chase. Some beef cuts are tender (think Tenderloin, Ribeye, Flat Iron, New York Strip) and some are a little more tough (Flank Steak, Top Round, Skirt Steak). They don’t have to stay that way, though. The tougher cuts really are tender at heart – they just need a little more TLC and voilà! You have a juicy, flavorful piece of beef to enjoy.

How can you tenderize and add flavor? With a marinade.

This week I had a Flank Steak to grill so I looked in my go-to beef recipe search engine, www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com, to see what I could throw together with what I already had on hand. This Ginger-Soy Marinade was the winner. It was tangy with a hint of sweetness.

Speaking of Flank Steak, visit Food52 and The Chew‘s Dan Churchill for more easy tips and 3 delicious sauces: The Perfect Flank Steak is Easy—and So Are These 3 Sauces.

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Ginger-Soy Marinade

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

  1. Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Place beef steak(s) and marinade in food-safe plastic bag; turn steak(s) to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes to 2 hours for tender steaks; 6 hours or as long as overnight for less tender steaks, turning occasionally.
  2. Remove steak(s) from bag; discard marinade. Place steak(s) on grid over medium, ash-covered coals or over medium heat on preheated gas grill. Grill according to the chart for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally.

Tips:

  • Pat steaks dry with paper towels to remove excess marinade to prevent flare-ups on your grill.
  • If cooking a cut of beef with long muscle striations (like Flank Steak, Skirt Steak and Tri Tip), make sure to slice against the grain. This is very important! Read why here.

Enjoy!

~Lauren4-8-2016_Lauren with tongs

 

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This week, Bass Aja of Pinal Feeding Co. offers his perspective on cattle feeding. Read on to find out why feeding cattle is so much more than just the obvious.


I grew up in Buckeye, Arizona, working with my grandfather on his sheep operation and his two ranches. It was there that I learned that all men are created equal, but are segregated by their own work ethic. He ran feeder lambs in the winter and spent most of the summer on the ranch that bordered the Navajo reservation north of Joseph City. Through the time I spent with him, I realized that I wanted to work with cattle, but realized on the ranch we spent the majority of our day working, but not necessarily with the cattle. At the same time, I saw my cousins who grew up on their feedlot, who got to work cattle almost every day, and not only that, they had facilities only found in the dreams of most ranchers. It was at this time I started to focus my energy on learning everything I could about the cattle-feeding community. It was fascinating to me how every week there was someone receiving and shipping cattle; how on any given day a person had the opportunity to identify and treat sick animals; and, most importantly – every day someone got to feed cattle.

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Bass with two of his three little ones on an adventure at the feed yard.

This love of the cattle feeding industry only grew as I got older and led me to work for a couple of Arizona’s cattle feeding families, which landed my family and me in Maricopa, Arizona. The best part of my job is seeing the hard work from a team come together over a long period of time to produce a product that feeds the world. Watching this team come to work every day and put in the effort required to care for these animals is impressive. They come every day regardless of the weather. As a matter of fact, we are more focused when we have adverse weather conditions because it requires more attention to care for our cattle. They come ready to work on every holiday because the cattle still need to be fed and receive care. Cattle don’t take holidays. Every day, no matter what, the people here at Pinal Feeding wake up and go to work because the cattle in our care deserve it, and that is the best part of my job.

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Bass and Bassie, Bass’ oldest son, getting up close and personal with some of the cattle at the feed yard Bass manages. It’s important to note, these cattle all have plenty of space to move around. This photo only shows one perspective, which is the curiosity of the Holstein breed and how if anyone approaches the feed bunk, they are going to come over to investigate!

A program we use often in our work of caring for cattle is the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program. Here at Pinal Feeding, we already strive to care for our cattle to the best of our ability, and this program offers nationally-based standardized training in proper management techniques while offering a commitment to quality. A large part of the beef community’s job involves making sure that beef is safe and wholesome for consumers. As a producer, we help maintain the standard by ensuring all of our employees are BQA certified.

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Bass and his crew at Pinal Feeding Co.

The most important part of feeding cattle is not the cattle, it is the people – those who I mentioned above, who sacrifice time with their family and friends to come and run pumps in the middle of the night because we had too much rain. Or when we stay late because a water pipe broke and we cannot go home until we make sure every animal has water. I got into this business because I loved working with cattle, I stay because I love working with people who care for cattle.


All photos were provided by Bass’ wife, Anna Aja. Thanks, Anna!

For more information about BQA, see Animal Welfare is a Top Priority for Ameria’s Beef Producers.

beef ambassadors

This week we are excited to feature our 2016 Arizona Beef Ambassador’s Molli Griffin and Kailee Zimmerman. This article was originally printed in the August 2016 Arizona Cattlelog.ASC Beef Ambassador Logo

Arizona Beef Ambassadors are passionate youth advocates for the Arizona beef community. The winners are the official youth representatives of the Arizona State Cowbelles (ASC) and the beef community. The winners will travel the state sharing the story of beef from pasture to plate with consumers and students and will participate in the national contest.

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Pictured: Molli Griffin, 2016 Senior Arizona Beef Ambassador, Kailee Zimmerman, 2016 Junior Arizona Beef Ambassador, and Mackenzie Kimbro, 2015 Senior Arizona Beef Ambassador

The purpose of the program is to provide Arizona consumers and students with positive nutritional, economic and environmental stewardship information related to beef consumption and the beef community. Participants learn how to effectively address issues and misconceptions, accurately share industry practices and promote the versatile uses of beef.

In addition to receiving recognition for winning the Arizona Beef Ambassador Program, the senior winner receives a $1500 cash scholarship, awarded at the end of their term, and the opportunity to travel to statewide ASC and beef industry events. The Junior Beef Ambassador winner receives recognition and $50 cash award.

First up, meet Molli Griffin, 2016 Senior Arizona Beef Ambassador.

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AC: Tell us about yourself.
MG: I am a fourth-generation cattle rancher from Globe. This year I will be finishing up an Associates Degree at Gila Pueblo College. I plan on enrolling at the University of Arizona in the fall of 2017, to pursue a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I have been and continue to be actively involved in FFA. I have been working with the Globe FFA Chapter on projects, contests and fundraising, and have been asked to assist with facilitating leadership events at the state level. This fall I will receive my American FFA Degree. I am currently working as a vet assistant at Copper Hills Veterinary Services, while I complete my Associate’s Degree.

AC: What do you think the biggest misconception consumers have about beef?
MG: I believe the biggest misconception that consumers have about beef is that it is not a healthy food choice in general. Whether they believe that beef is fattening, promotes clogged arteries, leads to heart disease, or is full of antibiotics or growth hormones, the general message in many media outlets is one of reducing or eliminating beef from the public diet. The only way to confront the steady stream of misinformation is to continue to promote the truth to consumers and the public, and work to ensure that the conversation is balanced.

AC: How do you plan to relate to and address consumers when you interact with them?
MG: I believe that consumers will relate to ideas and tips that focus on healthy food choices, spending sensibly, saving time, and helping them feel connected to where their food comes from.

AC: What tips do you have for ranchers for advocating?
MG: I believe that everyone involved in beef production needs to create high quality, nutritious products that appeal to the consumer. Getting involved and helping to tell the story of their beef locally, statewide, nationally (and internationally) is a key component to the future of the industry. Getting on board with social media sites and connecting with others, debunking some of the stereotypes and myths about the industry, as well as sharing the positive aspects of working and living on the land is another pathway. Finally, connecting with local schools and universities, and offering to host groups of students for a field day or work projects, helps build understanding and knowledge for students that might otherwise not have an opportunity to participate in the beef production story.

AC: What’s your favorite fact to share about beef?
MG: My favorite fact is that there really is no waste! I love that 99% of a cow is utilized for meat and other products.

AC: Any final comments?
MG: I am honored and privileged to serve as the Arizona Beef Ambassador. I am looking forward to spending the next year meeting others in our industry, learning more about beef in Arizona, connecting with consumers and sharing the beef story.

Next, meet Kailee Zimmerman, our 2016 Junior Beef Ambassador.13483028_1382985288383632_1756587551747925950_o

AC: Tell us about yourself.
KZ: My name is Kailee Zimmerman. I live in a small town west of Phoenix called Waddell. I am 15 years old and will be a sophomore at Trivium Preparatory Academy this year. Besides maintaining a 4.0 GPA in all honors classes, serving as the president of the youth organization at my church and being an active member of Arizona Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo Association, I have found my passion in the beef industry. My ancestors settled in the southeastern part of Arizona when it was just a territory. A successful Angora goat operation transitioned into a working cattle ranch. Our family raised polled Herefords that thrived in the valley of the Aravaipa Canyon in Klondyke. Now we raise show cattle and exhibit them all around the state. I have enjoyed being a member of Odyssey 4H and 2T Ranch Show team for 8 years. In the future, I would like to pursue a degree in Ag Law so that I will be able to be an ambassador and defender of the industry and people I am so proud of.

AC: What do you think is the biggest misconception consumers have about beef?
KZ: Many consumers believe organic, antibiotic-free, grass-fed beef to be the healthiest and that other beef products might be harmful or less nutritious to the consumer. Studies have shown that in a lean cut of beef, we are able to receive nearly half of our daily protein needed! A 3oz serving of lean beef has less than 10 grams of fat, less than 95 mg of cholesterol and provides you with important nutrients such as zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins. These nutrients give you energy, help you maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and help you maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Organic beef means that the meat is fed certified organic feed, is antibiotic free and is not given substances to promote growth. In a world concerned about the humane treatment of animals, why would we deprive a sick animal the treatment it needs to heal and grow? Why would we not try to maximize the harvest of beef when our ranch lands are shrinking and more people are dependent on the beef that is produced? Sustainability is a huge concern facing ranchers today. In addition, most beef is finished with grain. Even cattle that are “pasture-raised” are often supplemented with grain to ensure that meat is desirable to the consumer. Studies have shown that grass-fed beef contains a slightly higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids, but is higher in saturated fat and trans-fat. There isn’t much difference from a health standpoint. However, there is a significant difference in the taste of the beef that is grass-fed versus grain-fed. It is a personal preference.

AC: How do you plan to relate to and address consumers when interacting with them?
KZ: I will be honest with the consumers about the “Pasture to Plate” story. It is important for them to know that their food does not just appear in the grocery store. I hope that I will be able to answer questions and clear up some incorrect information, leaving the consumers feeling more comfortable about the meat they are eating and the people who produced it.

AC: What tips do you have for ranchers for advocating?
KZ: In a lot of ways, the beef industry is the “best-kept secret.” Social media has grown into a huge web of communication. People no longer go to the source, but use their friend’s recent post to form an opinion or get information about something. The world is getting more and more distanced from where their food comes from. As an industry, we must work hard to promote the right information. It is important to be open about what we are doing so that rumors are not spread. We need to use social media as a tool to do this. The most important thing is just to share the good news – American farmers and ranchers produce healthy, high-quality food that feeds the whole world. They take pride in what they produce and feel they have a responsibility to take care of the land and the animals on it. We have a pretty great story – why not share it?

AC: What is your favorite fact to share about beef?
KZ: My favorite fact to share about beef is the values and work ethic that are emulated by the people that produce it! Not only is beef an incredibly nutritional option for our diet, but the story behind how it gets to our plate is also fascinating!

AC: Any final comments?
KZ: I know without a doubt that the beef industry is essential to the world. I have such admiration for the men and women who work tirelessly to feed not only their family but also families everywhere. They feel it is their duty to care for all of God’s creations as they are stewards of the land and the cattle that they raise.

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We are pleased to re-blog this great post from Kids, Cows, and Grass in its entirety, with Debbie’s permission. Kids, Cows, and Grass is written by Debbie Lyons-Blythe, a cattle rancher in central Kansas, in the heart of the Flint Hills. Her blog is a wealth of information about how she and her family raise cattle. If you don’t already follow her, we highly suggest you do! Now on to your regularly scheduled programming…


A cow’s tongue is an amazing body part. A cow only has front teeth on the bottom of their mouth–the top is a hard pad, but no teeth. So in order to eat grass, a cow can’t bite it off like a horse, but they must rip it off with their tongue.  So the grass must be tall enough for a cow to get a “grip” on it with her tongue, and then pull it into her mouth. She does have molars on the top and bottom, so she can grind the grass up. But first, the grass is rolled into a ball called a “bolus” and swallowed nearly whole. It goes into her largest stomach, the rumen, where it is partially broken down by bacteria and enzymes in the rumen. When a cow grazes, she busily tears grass and swallows it. Later she will lie down and relax and chew her cud–which means she regurgitates the boluses back into her mouth to chew them again.  The chewed up grass then progresses through the other compartments of her stomach: the reticulum, omasum and abomasum.

Cows use their tongues for other things too–like licking their calves dry at birth. When a newborn calf is born, a cow immediately gets to her feet and begins licking him. This encourages circulation and respiration, and dries him at the same time.

After a calf grows, his mama continues to groom him with her tongue. You might even find cows licking each other on the head or neck. When a cow has an itch, she will use her tongue to scratch it!  A cow’s tongue is very rough–nearly like sandpaper. Cows don’t lap water, but they may play in it with their tongue. To drink they suck the water up through their mouth.

When my kids show cattle, their calves often lick them for the salt in their sweat on their arms. It is not a sign of affection for a cow to lick a person, but it seems that way! I have never eaten cow tongue, but I know many cultures do value it. I found numerous recipes for it through a google search, but I haven’t tried any of them.


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Who doesn’t love a good infographic? Share with your friends on Pinterest!

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The long days of summer are well under way and we know how hard it can be to stay motivated during this time of the year. Check out our top five ways to stay healthy and in shape when just the thought of going outside makes you cringe.

Don’t Hike Camelback (or Any Other Trail in the Warm Part of Arizona) During the Middle of the Day in the Summer40263_8080_Camelback-Mountain-north-face_b96f91cc-5056-b3a8-495ceea635275397.jpg

We all know that person who prides himself on heading out to the trail in the middle of the afternoon during the summer. They are proud of the fact that they are going to lose their weight in body sweat just because they did it! This is not an activity recommended for the average person or even the super active person. It’s a good idea to change your workout routine according to the seasons. Take up swimming in the summer and save your hiking for the fall and spring.

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This can’t be said enough, especially here in the extremely dry desert. Drink lots and lots and lots of water. Even if you’re not thirsty, drink some water. When you casually think about drinking water, do it. Seriously. Drink more water. Your body will thank you.

Keep the Menu Light and FreshSouthwestern-Style Beef Salad_VERTICAL_pwm

A great way to stay cool during the summer is by keeping what you eat light and simple. A good, fresh summer salad is the Grilled Flank Steak and Peach Salad. The recipe calls for a few simple ingredients and it takes just a few minutes to prepare and combine all of those. Simple can still be flavorful. Expert Tip: Use the steak you cooked last night on the grill or leftovers from the steakhouse for today’s salad to save even more time.

Find What Works for You140314-the-trick-to-working-out

Workout crazes seem to pop up every few minutes so finding what works for you is important. Try something out that looks interesting, like yoga or an outdoor boot camp, but don’t be afraid to try something different if the first attempt wasn’t for you. With so many different options, and free workouts online, there is always an option out there. The most important part of working out is actually getting out there to work!

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It’s no secret that the agriculture world is changing. What was once predominantly considered a male occupation is quickly becoming a women’s world. As of 2012, there were close to 970,000 female farmers and ranchers in the United States.  That means that over 30% of all agriculture producers across the country are women! Another statistic that might throw you for a loop; the majority of that group resides in either Texas OR Arizona. While Texas has the highest actual number of female farmers and ranchers, Arizona has the highest national proportion of female to male producers. Meaning, out of all farming operations in the state, female participation accounts for about 45% of that. This is compared to the national average of only about 27%. Go Arizona!

Cheslea Duree Brown is one of those Arizona females that plans on carrying on her family’s tradition of ranching for many more years to come. Not only does she love cattle, but she is a huge supporter of educating others about where their food comes from. Meet Chelsea!

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Chelsea, Hardy, and Spade

I grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona working summers on my grandparent’s cattle ranch. My grandparents, Jim and Duree Shiew, are first generation ranchers so to speak. They started leasing the Chambers Ranch just northeast of Flagstaff in the late 1970’s from Ed and Rita Gannon. Originally, the land was just open country but they eventually fenced it in for ranch land in the early 1980’s. My mom, Jada Brown, and my Uncle Travis both grew up on the ranch and helped form it in the operation it is now. Today, we also have a forest permit for land east of Flagstaff as well as a ranch west of Wickenburg, which is primarily used during the winter months.  All in all, we run about 500 mama cows depending on the year.

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Chelsea, her mom, her grandparents, and her uncle

While ranching has always been in my blood, I didn’t originally intend on choosing agriculture as a career. Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher but my senior year of high school I decided to major in something agriculture related instead. Four years down the road, I’m a proud alumni of the University of Arizona with a degree in Animal Sciences and an emphasis in business and production. In a way, I still am the teacher that I thought I was going to be. I came to college and chose the specific major that I did because I wanted to learn things that would be useful on the ranch and so that I could understand more of the business side of things as well. I learned a lot during my time at school, but I am a firm believer in the phrase “you can never learn too much.” What’s more, you have to be able to teach and share that knowledge with others.

I love being able to apply what I was taught in school to life on the ranch. I take opportunities and use them as teaching moments for my grandparents. Just a couple weeks ago, I was able to explain to them why a particular heifer, which seemed completely healthy otherwise, had never been able to reproduce; she had been a twin to a bull calf and was actually a free martin heifer. Free martin heifers are infertile due to the male hormones it is exposed to during gestation. Teaching my family about what I’ve learned is the easy part, however. They come from an agriculture background and understand what I’m trying to tell them. The more difficult side of things is educating the general public. While my passion for the cattle industry comes from growing up around it, my passion for “AG-VOCATING” came after spending time in Tucson. That is when my eyes were opened to all the issues going on in the ag-world and how little people knew about the things they were eating!

You’d be surprised how many people have absolutely no idea where their food comes from. They honestly believe it just comes from the grocery store and that it just magically shows up there. Even supplying people with fun little facts and tidbits goes a long way. For example, the label “ANTIBIOTIC FREE” on poultry products is 100% true. However, by law, chickens are not allowed to receive any antibiotics. Yes, that chicken breast is indeed free of any antibiotics but so is everything else. People don’t understand some things are just used as a marketing gimmick!

Agriculture is not meant for the faint of heart; it truly is a way of life. It’s not like other jobs where you can leave the office, go home, and really be done for the day. Ask just about anyone, the work always comes home with you. Yes, a huge portion of that work is directly farm or ranch related BUT another big part is being able to educate others on where exactly their food comes from and all of the hard work that goes into supplying the world with healthy, nutritious, and safe meat. As agriculturalist, we not only wear the “producer cap” but the “teacher cap” as well. It’s so important to learn as much as you can and use that knowledge to teach others.

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Chelsea, in her element

We couldn’t agree with you more on that one, Chelsea!

Blog post by Michelle Allen, Arizona Beef Council and Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association 2016 Summer Intern