You Can Always Come Back to the Kitchen: Foodservice Challenges Due to COVID-19

The foodservice industry, an important sector of the beef community, has been drastically affected by COVID-19. Join Jessica Obie, a center of plate specialist with US Foods®, to learn about the challenges and how restaurateurs have pivoted to succeed.

With 15 years of industry experience, Jessica’s career knowledge includes menu creation, food testing, cooking, management, and sales. Jessica is competent in the high demands of the kitchen and builds long-term, productive, and mutually beneficial relationships with customers. In her role, she provides profitable beef, seafood, poultry, and pork solutions for customers. Jessica received a Master of Brand Advantages from Certified Angus Beef.

In 2013, after working 13 years within the confines of restaurant walls, I made the bold decision to go into food sales. Naturally, being terrified about this uncertain, the sky is the limit, fully commission based so-you-better-hustle decision, I consulted my chef mentor (the one who used to make me stutter with fear). Not only did she support the idea of testing a new path, but she also offered the comforting words “you can always come back to the kitchen.”

In the years since, as I rode the roller coaster of success with the sales industry, her words held true and I was always able to rely on my experience in the kitchen to bridge commission paydays, while chasing dreams and keeping my culinary skills sharp.

That was until early spring of 2020. I watched in alarm the shutdown and futuristic uncertainty of the industry that had helped raise me. My fellow restaurant brethren/work families current and past were suddenly out of work, many of them never knowing another path than serving or cooking. For some, their future is still uncertain as they wait for their restaurants/hotels to re-open.

Unfortunately, ‘the new-norm’ may continue to prevent these cooks/servers/chefs/owners from going back to life as they knew it. Those who sat waiting on their heels, thinking life would return to normal will be left behind. But…those who saw this slow down/shut down as a reset button, took the time to stop, evaluate themselves and their business, and those that adapted to the situation, will persevere.

Masks are the new norm but brands are coming up with fun ways to embrace the change.

Social media presence, online ordering and conscientious dining have gained popularity over the last decade, but some still refused to embrace it. As in-room dining closed and “to-go” became the only option, those who had already embraced or even dipped their toes in the pond of these concepts could recover quicker. Those who embraced social media and kept their customers in the loop with updated hours, sanitation methods and ease of ordering are feeling the effect of COVID-19 less than those who didn’t and aren’t. Some are even seeing year over year increases. Now more than ever, social media is playing a vital part in the success of businesses. Adaptability, perseverance and reliance on outside resources are more important than ever. No one can survive this on their own.

As millennials were finally forced to stay at home and, even worse, cook for themselves, they finally realized they could do it. With so many people now working from home, more families have time to cook their own meals and not just grab something on the way home. What does this mean for our restaurants who want to successfully emerge from the other side of this? Their food must be more original, more consistent, and healthier than what I can provide for myself. If they don’t provide a reason why someone should leave their house or open their pandemic-depleted wallet, consumers will order in their groceries and stay put. As more people have time to “Google” nutrition facts, humane practices, sustainability policies, etc., they will only shop/buy from stores and restaurants who share their beliefs.

Jessica getting back to her roots which lay in the kitchen.

Originally ‘gifting’ toilette paper with orders of $50 or more was popular. Now 6 months later, DIY meal kits, speed scratch and tamper evident seals/packaging is most important. With less and less people dining in-house, ghost kitchens (renting space in an industrial kitchen) and multi-concept spaces are popping up and they are all focusing on to-go. Using smarter products and packaging that hold integrity from restaurant to home has become vital. US Foods® offers restaurant operators market and inventory analysis to determine the most financially responsible ‘new’ concepts possible from their current production line.

In the end, I guess Chef Cheryl (previously mentioned fear-instilling mentor) was correct. I did come back to the kitchen, though not as a paid employee. I was fortunate enough to use these months as a reset and get back to my culinary roots. I, as a culinarian, remembered the joy in cooking and used that to spend time with family, neighbors and friends. I, as a millennial, will only order out if it is something fun, exciting or healthier than I can create. And, I, working from home, have more time to research, try and grow my own food. 

We are all in this together, but we all need to learn to adapt and grow.

As an additional educational resource to their customers during these changing times, US Foods has provided weekly webinars (link) to help provide on-going information and learning opportunities to the restaurant community.

Brooke Appetit: Beef Shish Kabobs with Lebanese Rice

Arizona Beef is delighted to welcome Brooke Appetit back to share another delicious recipe. This one is easy, colorful, and delicious. Read on!

“As our Arizona weather is starting to get nicer (maybe a little?) I love to spend my evenings outside grilling!  Marinated shish kabobs are easy to prepare, fast cooking, and perfect for entertaining. We are using Sirloin for this recipe. Sirloin is less expensive and is a great option because of it’s lean but beefy flavor. If you allow it a few more hours in the marinade, you will be sure to have tender and flavorful kabobs! I like to pair the kabobs with a Lebanese rice that is also easy and delicious. Enjoy!” – Brooke Gladden

Beef Shish Kabobs

Ingredients:

¾ cup vegetable oil or olive oil
¾ cup soy sauce
½ cup lemon juice
1/3  cup Worcestershire
¼ cup mustard
¼ cup honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh chopped herbs (I used oregano, basil, rosemary and parsley)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons coarsely cracked black pepper
1 ½ lbs Top Sirloin*, cut into 1 inch cubes
Vegetables – cut into chunks
16 mushroom caps
1 large red onion
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash

*Don’t have Top Sirloin? Try these steak swaps for alternate beef cut options that also work well for kabobs.

Method:

1. Whisk the oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire, mustard, honey, garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Pour half into a resealable plastic bag. Add the beef, coat with the marinade and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

2. A few hours before you are ready to grill add vegetables into a resealable plastic bag and coat with the marinade.

3. Thread pieces of vegetables and beef onto metal skewers.

4. Preheat grill to high heat. You can reduce the heat to medium-high once you put the kabobs on but starting them with a high heat will allow for a nice char. Grill kabobs, turning every 2-3 minutes until all sides have a nice char. I typically grill mine for 8-10 minutes total. Be careful to not overcook the meat. In my opinion, they are best when medium-rare!

Lebanese rice

Ingredients:
1 cup white rice
½ cup vermicelli
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ½  tbsp butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups water
½ cup toasted pine nuts, toast in 1 tbsp butter

Method

  1. In a non-stick pot, heat olive oil and butter on medium-high heat.
  2. Add the vermicelli and continuously stir to toast it evenly. Vermicelli should turn a nice golden brown but be careful, it burns quickly.
  3. Once vermicelli is brown add the rice and stir for about 30 seconds.
  4. Season with salt.
  5. Add 2 ¼ cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. When the rice is fully cooked, remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.
  7. Serve warm with toasted pine nuts on top

About Brooke

Brooke Gladden is a native Arizonian who grew up in a small ex mining town north of Tucson called San Manuel. She attended the University of Arizona graduating with a B.S. in Agriculture Communications.  She currently lives in Palo Verde, AZ with her husband Clint who is a fourth generation farmer at Gladden Farms/ Saddle Mountain Dairy.

She’s a total foodie at heart and normally plans her days around meals. Brooke’s mom (Jacque Phelps) gave her a passion for cooking. She is a wonderful cook who Brooke has had the privilege to learn from while growing up. She says her favorite thing in the world is cooking with my mom.

Check out her website Brooke Appetit for more recipe inspiration and be sure to follow her on Instagram.

Arizona Beef and Brad Prose of Chiles and Smoke Giveaway

Labor Day is coming up quickly and we want to be ready to tackle the grill confidently and in style! To do that, we’ve partnered with someone who celebrates beef often and creates delicious recipes to bring you a yummy giveaway. Brad Prose is a Phoenix-born family man, professional recipe developer, food writer, and culinary photographer – the force behind Chiles and Smoke. His combined passion for fine dining and BBQ shines through his presentations and cooking style. Brad uses social media, the website, and his brand to share his passion and story to inspire new ideas. Not only is he helping us with this giveaway but he also put together a taco recipe just for your enjoyment!

Lots of beefy prizes including gift cards to Omaha Steaks. Photo by Hazel Light Photography.

Giveaway details first.

What do you get?

Grand Prize receives a United We Steak puzzle, tongs, koozie, apron, lighter, and a $100 Omaha Steak gift card.

2nd Prize receives a United We Steak puzzle, tongs, koozie, apron, lighter, and a $50 Omaha Steak gift card.

3rd Prize receives a United We Steak puzzle, tongs, koozie, apron, lighter, and a $25 Omaha Steak gift card.

You have three chances to win! And the steps to enter are easy.

Here’s what you need to do to be eligible for this giveaway.

1- Like this post (LINK) on Instagram.

2- Comment on the same post (LINK) telling us your favorite cut of beef to grill.

3- Like @ArizonaBeef and @ChilesandSmoke on Instagram.

4- Finally, head over to this LINK to fill out a quick entry form.

The contest starts on August 28, 2020 and runs until midnight, Eastern Standard Time, on September 3, 2020.

And now for the recipe!

Ancho Coffee Skirt Steak Tacos

Welcome to Ancho Coffee Skirt Steak Tacos, your gateway to a simple recipe with a huge blast of flavor without much hassle. Amazing salsa, too! You can cook both back to back to save time.

Ingredients
  • Omaha Steaks Skirt Steak, approx 14oz (learn more about Skirt Steak here)
  • 2 Tbsp finely ground coffee
  • 2 Tbsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • Zest of 1 lime
CREAMY CORN SALSA
  • 2 ears corn
  • 1 Cup Mexican crema (or sour cream, mayo)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, diced finely
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 medium white onion
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp Ancho Coffee Rub to season
  • 12 Corn Tortillas

Instructions
  1. Heat up the grill to medium-high heat, around 400-450F.
  2. Mix the rub ingredients together, taste and adjust. Slice the Skirt Steak in half, so you have 2 shorter pieces. This allows you to easily fit both on the grill. Season the Skirt Steaks well and allow the meat to rest while you start the corn.
  3. Grill the corn, turning to char each side if desired. This will take between 6-8 minutes. While the corn is grilling, prepare the other vegetables for the salsa.
  4. Take the corn off the grill and allow them to cool. Place the Skirt Steaks on the grill, do not disturb for 2-3 minutes until it has a nice char. Flip, repeat, and check the temperature for your desired cook. I prefer to grill until 130 for Medium Rare, knowing it will continue to rise as it rests.
  5. The steak is resting, go ahead and cut off the corn kernels.  Mix the corn and the other ingredients together, using the Ancho Coffee Rub to season it. You might need more seasoning depending on your taste.
  6. (Optional) Toss the tortillas on the grill for 1 minute each side for an extra char.
  7. Serve in tortillas, with the salsa.
Notes

Use a coffee that tastes good to you! I prefer dark roast for grilling, but any kind will work. There’s 1 lime in the recipe, make sure you zest it for the rub, then juice it for the salsa.


Enjoy the recipe, enter the contest and get ready for to unite with close family and friends around the grill!

How Does the Dairy Community Fit in the Beef World?

If you have followed the Arizona Beef blog for a while, then you already know the commitment and care given to cattle raised in Arizona. Ranching families across the state work every day to ensure their cattle have fresh clean water, nutritious feed, and live in a low-stress environment. This attention to care ensures these animals produce delicious and nutritious beef for the families of these ranchers and for your family, too. Arizona dairies are no different. With most dairy farms owned by families, they are also committed to the care and comfort of their cattle. Not only do they focus on producing nutritious milk, but also on providing quality beef.

Wes Kerr, of Kerr Family Dairy, shares, “The two biggest products that we produce on our farm are milk and meat. We want those products to be high-quality, wholesome nutrition that feeds families. The goal for each and every one of my cows is to lead a long, healthy life on my farm. For each of my cows, my goal is for them to eventually become beef. It is an important part of our business that allows us to get value back from our animals helping us to stay a viable business.”

Arizona beef comes from ranches and dairies. Wes Kerr, of Kerr Family Dairy in Buckeye, Arizona, explains that the two biggest products that come from dairies are milk and meat. Arizona dairymen and women strive to ensure both of those products are wholesome and provide high-quality nutrition for families.

Another contribution from the dairy community to beef is the raising of the male calves, which are castrated and called steers that are raised to provide high-quality beef. The male calves are raised on a calf ranch and then at a feedyard (to learn more about these feedyards check out this blog and this one). At the feed yard, these animals are fed a mixed diet formulated by a cattle nutritionist, monitored for health with supervision from a cattle veterinarian, given access to fresh, clean water, and are able to move around freely in their pens. When harvested, the cattle provide high-quality , steaks, roasts, ground beef.

Together, beef ranchers and dairy farmers strive to provide all with nutritious and wholesome beef and dairy products. To learn more about the diary community visit Arizona Milk Producers.

Meet Your Ranchers: Anita Waite and Sherwood Koehn

Near Kingman, Arizona is the Cane Spring Ranch, owned by ranchers and everyday environmentalists Anita Waite and Sherwood Koehn. As with most ranchers, caring for the land on which Anita and Sherwood raise their cattle is of the utmost importance, and Anita’s passion for the land’s natural resources and wildlife was evident as we toured the vast mountains and valleys of this northern Arizona ranch.

Encompassing 70,000 acres, the ranch is comprised of private, state and federal pieces that make up the whole. In Arizona, and in much of the West, it is common that one ranch might include private (deeded) land and long-term leases of land owned by the different state and federal public land agencies. Anita believes that cooperation and working closely with the various governmental agencies and others, including the Arizona Game and Fish Department, is the best way to manage their ranch. Connections and relationships help ensure the area is used correctly and is available for future generations to enjoy. 

The Cane Spring Ranch is one of great diversity in many ways including elevation, forage and grasses, and wildlife. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

The ranch is managed using a grazing pattern, which calls for cattle to be moved to one of four different pastures throughout the year. One pasture is always left empty to rest, much like when a person rests to feel rejuvenated and reinvigorated. The same goes for grasses and forages, allowing recharge and re-growth. This also allows for flexibility in having a “spare” pasture in case of drought or other cattle market issues. This resting pasture can hold their cattle for some time to get through until conditions level out.

The Cane Spring Ranch boasts diverse plant life throughout its varied elevations. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Cattle have a preference for what they would like to eat. If they are given access to their favorite forage for an extended period, they will eat all of what they like the most and then move on to their next favorite. By rotating pastures and ensuring the pasture is not overgrazed, the ranch can guarantee the variety of forage remains the same or even increases. Various agencies and institutions have recognized Cane Spring Ranch for its wide range of grasses and forage due to the range management practices. The Arizona Botanical Society has made many visits to the ranch and has identified 28 different types of grass. Another factor in the variety of forage is the various elevations of the ranch, which goes from 3,000 to 7,000 feet. The mountain pasture holds an abundance of Pinion pines and the southern pastures at lower elevations have more seasonal forages.

The focus of this ranch in one photo: is on maintaining the land and raising high quality beef. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Water development and improvement are a massive part of the success of this ranch. “If you build it, they will come” is a line from a famous baseball movie, and it also holds for water sources: where there is water, cattle and wildlife will go. Cane Spring Ranch had many wells drilled after Anita and Sherwood took ownership in 1993. Drilling wells at various locations around the ranch ensure cattle will travel to many areas to get water, which leads to their grazing patterns being varied. Cattle grazing in the same spot for an extended period of time is not good for the forage, so having water sources spaced out is beneficial for both the cattle and the land. Water sources are spaced out every two to three miles across the entirety of the ranch. The decision for each water source’s location was collaboration between Anita, Sherwood, the Arizona State Land Department, Arizona Game and Fish, and the United States’ Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

A solar panel pumps water from the nearby well or storage tank and sends it to the drinker (water trough). Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Exceptionally diverse, wildlife is an integral component of the Cane Spring Ranch. Mountain lions, deer, javelina, bobcats, black bears, badgers, rabbits, ravens, red-tailed hawks, desert tortoises, and more flourish on the ranch. While the wildlife and cattle mostly pose a symbiotic relationship, there is a need to keep predator and prey populations in balance. Hunting is another component of the ranch management and licensed hunters have access to almost all 70,000 acres. Working with the hunters who enjoy the outdoor lifestyle allows for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Wildlife on the ranch is diverse and we were lucky to snap a photo of this desert tortoise. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Not only do conservation efforts at the ranch find priority in Anita’s life, but she also expands her knowledge and works with fellow ranchers and agency personnel, serving as chairwoman of the Big Sandy Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD). The NRCD’s were initially formed during the Dustbowl when there was a need to introduce new agricultural processes. Local groups were developed, such as the Big Sandy NRCD, with locally elected officials who would help disseminate information on how to manage ranches and farms in a better way and get funding to put in beneficial projects. A unique trait of the NRCD’s is their ability to do work across all types of land – BLM, state land, and private.

One of the Big Sandy NRCD’s current goals is to increase water augmentation in the surrounding area. Water augmentation means getting water underground to build up the water table, which can be accomplished by slowing the flow of water, giving it more time to seep into the ground, and allowing for less evaporation. If this is achieved, it could put more water in the Colorado River. This is a huge undertaking and involves many agencies, including, Mohave County, Arizona Game and Fish, US Fish and Wildlife, Arizona State Land Trust, the National Resource Conservation Services, and the University of Arizona. While this project will be extremely beneficial to more than just ranchers in this area, the more significant point of this story is what can be accomplished through collaboration and cooperation.

The cattle on this ranch have lots of options when it comes to what to eat! Variety of forages is a point of pride for Anita and Sherwood. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Anita and the Cane Spring Ranch have been the recipients of many awards, acknowledging the conservation efforts, including the Arizona Conservation District Zone 3 – Conservation Rancher of the Year 2000, Arizona Conservation District Zone 5 – Conservation Rancher of the Year 2000, Bureau of Land Management – Recognition for Cane Spring Ranch Land Exchange 2001, Society of Range Management – Range Manager of the Year 2008, Society of Range Management Certificate of Excellence in Range Management in 2010, and Arizona Game and Fish Wildlife Habitat Steward of the Year 2013.

When asked why so much time and effort are put in, Anita answers, “We love the land. We bought the ranch because we fell in love with it and want to do the best possible. And that was always our goal from the day of buying it. We love the cattle, of course, but our focus has been on the land. It comes from our life experiences. You take care of the land, and the land will take care of you.”

This blog post is made possible by the generous support of the Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation.

Meet Your Sale Barn Owners: The Shores Family

“Igottaabidnowhereoneoneonehurryupletsgoigottaabidnowtwogottaabidnowgottaabidnowthree…”

The sound of the seasoned auctioneer echoes through the sale barn welcoming the hustle, bustle, and anticipation that comes with sale day. Cattlemen and women watch the sale ring intently as their cattle get sold, or they might be there to buy cattle. Either way, they are most likely sipping on a freshly brewed cup of coffee and visiting fellow ranchers on their “trip to town.”

While not of Willcox Livestock Auction, this video provides a look at what an auction barn looks and sounds like. It’s a 360 degree video so be sure to use your mouse to rotate the views.

Ranchers work year-round to raise healthy cattle to produce delicious, nutritious, and safe beef for us to eat. The lifecycle of a beef animal includes several phases (check out this blog post on the beef lifecycle), starting with the rancher whose cows raise a calf each year. Once that calf is old enough, it is weaned from the cow and then sold. The livestock auction is a tried and true way to sell one’s calves. It is a place of camaraderie, jovial interactions with friends and family, and, of course, a little business mixed in. In a sense, it’s like a community center for ranchers.

Sonny and Barbara Kay Shores, Willcox Livestock Auction. Photo by Hazel LIghts Photography.

The Willcox Livestock Auction barn, owned and operated by Sonny and Barbara Kay Shores, is a true family business and that is quickly felt upon walking through the door. Not only do Sonny and Barbara Kay work and run the sale barn, but all their children and their children’s significant others also work or have worked there, and pitch in if more help is needed. This is the kind of place Sonny and Barbara Kay’s grandchildren beg their parents to take them. Lots of activity, friendly people, and wholesome fun are had by the children and adults alike. The sale barn history is lengthy, with this being the oldest sale barn in the state of Arizona. Sonny’s father started as an auctioneer at his father’s (Sonny’s grandfather) sale barn in New Mexico in the 1960s. In the 1970s Sonny’s father came over to Willcox, purchased the Willcox Livestock Auction barn, and continued on the work he was raised to do. Sonny, having grown up in this world, has always known the sale barn life. When he turned eighteen, it just made sense that he continued and bought in on the business too, making him the third generation of sale barn owners and operators.

Jhett and Timber taking part in the family business. Photo by Hazel LIghts Photography.

The sale barn owner’s job is both incredibly complex and eventful, with some stress mixed in. They are the middlemen in layman’s terms between ranchers and the buyers of their cattle, helping to sell their customers’ cattle at the best price possible. They also must take care of the buyer to bring them back year after year. The Shores stand by supporting the beef community in their area because, as they share, it is a matter of good business and just what you do as a good neighbor.

The Shores family is dedicated to their customers, both inside and outside the sale barn. Photo by Hazel LIghts Photography.

While Barbara Kay holds down the office and all of its particulars, Sonny is most often found talking on his cell phone in the cattle pens. But don’t think that makes him unapproachable. With his open and calm demeanor, he somehow makes a person feel like he has all the time in the world when, in fact, he has many pressing issues to address. He answers his phone for any call and often gets questions from ranchers about the current cattle market and whether it is a good time to bring cattle in to sell. Sonny stays up on the current cattle market and its prices, but he also has to stay up to date with cattle and beef trends, and other goings-on in the beef community. All of these are important to his business and the business of the people he works with at the sale barn.

The next generation eagerly observing. Photo by Hazel LIghts Photography.

The Shores family has always looked to the future and continues to find ways to help their local community. Sonny’s father started a bull sale many years ago to support the local ranchers in purchasing good genetics for their herds and to stay up to date with trends and what the consumer was looking for in their beef. This bull sale, and the many that have happened since its inauguration, bring bulls in from all over the country, which would otherwise have been a challenge for local ranchers to purchase. With the help of this sale, ranchers from the surrounding area have increased access to cattle genetics to raise a healthy, well-marbled beef product.

Staying on top of the new technological innovations is integral to the auction business. Buyers can either purchase cattle in-person at the sale barn, or they can buy cattle online. Online sales are good for sellers and buyers as the market is expanded to those who can tune in, especially when people are not able to travel as quickly. Social media is also in use at the Willcox Livestock Auction in the form of a Facebook page. Sonny was hesitant for a long time, but with some coaxing from his daughter, Kayla, he has found it to be a huge asset.

Jhett and Timber comfortable leading their horse Drifter down the alleyway. Photo by Hazel LIghts Photography.

They are tech-savvy in the online world, but they also work hard to keep the physical sale barn up to date. A new scale to weigh cattle right in front of the buyers was recently installed. This helped increase purchases from buyers who need to know the weight of the animals before purchase and allowed online bidders to have more information before buying.

Sonny’s role is to protect and support the job of the rancher. The auction barn works hard to get the best price for the cattle brought here. This is accomplished by expert sorting and putting cattle together as a package to help the rancher earn a fair price. Some buyers might be taking cattle to a feed yard and need to fill a pen, so if Sonny can put together that package of livestock, it makes it easier for the buyer and allows a higher price for every animal in the group.

The whole Shores family! Starting at the top left: Dashlyn, Casey, Kayla, David, Kylie, Barbara Kay, Sonny, Maverick, Karyn, Karson. Bottom Left: Timber, Jhett. Photo by Hazel LIghts Photography.

Spend any time around Sonny and his family, and it becomes blatantly evident that his desire to support ranchers runs far deeper than just the brick and mortar sale barn. The Shores family, much like other ranching families, have a deep passion for this lifestyle and want to see it carry on for generations to come. They care about their neighbors and want to help, as any good neighbor should.

This blog post is made possible by the generous support of the Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation.

“United We Steak” Encourages Arizona Residents To Grab Their Favorite Beef Cut and Fire Up The Grill

Arizona Beef Council participates in new Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. grilling campaign celebrating America’s favorite protein pastime.

July 3, 2020- – The Arizona Beef Council is partnering with  Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., funded by the Beef Checkoff, to launch “United We Steak,” a new summer grilling campaign showcasing 50 steaks and all 50 states.

“United We Steak” celebrates not only a shared tradition of grilling delicious steaks, but also what makes each state unique when it comes to this beloved pastime. The idea comes to life at UnitedWeSteak.com with an interactive map of the United States made from 50 hand-cut state-shaped steaks. The interactive map is packed full of grilling spirit, state-specific recipes and fun facts that can help consumers nationwide “beef up” grilling season this summer.   

Arizona as a cut of beef!

Underpinning the campaign is a recognition that across all 50 states, there is a universal love of beef sizzling on a summer grill. According to research conducted by Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., which is managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, nearly one-third of consumers say that they plan to grill more this summer than they have in the past.[i]  

A delicious fajita recipe is featured on the Arizona page.

While every state has special traditions and recipes when it comes to grilling beef, some of those unique to Arizona, and featured on UnitedWeSteak.com include:

“There’s nothing like the sound and smell of beef sizzling on the grill during the summer grilling season,” said Clint Gladden, Chairman of the Arizona Beef Council. “United We Steak’ not only celebrates a love for grilling that brings families together, but also the beef farmers and ranchers who work hard every day to keep beef on grills all summer long.”

Each state page also features a story about a rancher. On Arizona’s page, we feature Joe and Sarah King.

As part of the campaign, the state and U.S.-shaped steaks will be featured in national advertisements, including still images and videos that will be shared on digital and social media platforms. The advertisements will also be shared on video platforms including YouTube and Connected TV in an effort to inspire Americans to grill up their favorite beef meal no matter where they live. Arizona is getting in on the fun too with localized advertisements that will reach proud Arizona grill masters.

The campaign follows the kickoff of summer grilling season, which Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. marked with a new video released Memorial Day Weekend showcasing the dedication of farmers and ranchers to raising safe, sustainable and nutritious beef. It concludes with the simple declaration: “Summer Grilling Season Brought To You By Beef Farmers and Ranchers.”

The original sponsors of summer grilling are ranchers raising delicious, nutritious, and safe beef!

More beef grilling inspiration and information can be found at United We Steak and BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

About the Beef Checkoff
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 may 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.


[i] Grilling Survey, April 2020

What is stockmanship?

Stockmanship is how ranchers interact with their animals with a focus on keeping the stress meter low for both the handler and the animal. Most cattle start their life cycle on ranches in large pastures. Here in Arizona, most cows calve alone and don’t usually need human assistance, but ranchers do interact with their cattle regularly. To raise high-quality beef, cattle must be healthy, and ranchers can help their animals achieve that goal with a vaccination program. Vaccinating, along with branding and other activities, does require ranchers to work closely with their animals and good stockmanship can help make it easier on both the cows and the people.

Dr. Dean Fish of the Sante Fe Ranch Foundation and Anchor F Cattle Company is shown moving cattle on horseback which can be a low-stress method when used correctly.

Ranchers don’t put a leash on their cattle to move them like one might a dog. Rather, cattlemen and women use their bodies (and horses) positioned in certain ways to move cattle where we need them to go. To understand this concept better, we first must know a few things about cows. Cattle are prey animals, meaning they want to gather in herds because that gives them more protection from predators. They also have a flight or fight instinct and tend to run if they are frightened. Some breeds of cattle are more inclined to fight if put into a sticky situation, like if a predator tries to attack a cow’s calf. Secondly, they don’t often move in straight lines, but rather in circular patterns. Knowing these two instincts tells us how we can work with cattle to decrease stress on the animal and to increase productivity.

Cattle flight zones can vary greatly and depend primarily on breed, environmental factors, and the amount of exposure they’ve had to humans. Micaela McGibbon of the Santa Rita Ranch demonstrates a flight zone that is relatively small because these cattle are used to interactions with Micaela in this circumstance.

Think about a large invisible ring around a cow. This is her flight zone. Depending on breed and how much human interaction this cow has had, her flight zone might be small or large. Pressure can be applied by stepping into their circular flight zone, in a certain area to encourage her to move forwards, backwards, away, or even towards you. Also knowing how much pressure to apply, meaning how far and how fast you must walk into the flight zone, is critical. If an animal looks at you or maybe flicks an ear towards you but doesn’t move it probably means you have to step a little closer. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, if an animal jumps and runs away you might have walked too far into her flight zone or approached too quickly.

This graphic shows how the flight zone works. When you move towards the head of an animal they are going to turn away, while moving towards the back of the animal will move them forward. The point of balance, which is generally at their shoulder, is the point in which those movements change. Stepping into the flight zone will cause an animal to move while stepping out of the flight zone will cause it to stop moving because of the pressure you are putting on the animal. Image courtesy of the Beef Quality Assurance Program.

Working with these natural flight zones and movement patterns help to decrease stress on animals while increasing productivity. The less stress an animal experiences, the better, so they can put their energy toward making healthy beef. It also makes it safer for the human involved to utilize these skills as the animal is less likely to tap into their fight response.

The Beef Lifecycle

The journey of raising beef is among the most complex of any food. Due in part to their changing nutritional needs throughout their lifetime, beef cattle often times will change hands and ownership up to three or four times, over the course of one and a half to three years, as they move through their various life stages.

Across this process, however, one important thing remains constant – and that’s the beef community’s shared commitment to raising cattle in a safe, humane and environmentally sustainable way. Working together, each segment of the beef lifecycle aims to make the best use of vital natural resources like land, water and energy – not just for today, but also for the future. The result is a delicious and nutritious food you can feel good about serving your family and friends.

Let’s explore how beef gets from pasture to plate in Arizona.

Ranch:

Raising beef begins with ranchers who maintain a herd of cows that give birth to calves once a year. When a calf is born, it typically weighs 60 to 100 pounds. Over the next few months, each calf will live off its mother’s milk and graze on forages from the rangeland. Ranches in Arizona are typically large in land area because of our dry, arid climate. Ranchers are committed to caring for their animals and the land on which they are raised.

Photo by Roxanne Knight.

Weaning:

Calves are weaned from their mother’s milk at 6 to 10 months of age when they weigh between 450 and 700 pounds. This can be done several ways with one option called fence line weaning. This means the cows are on one side of the fence and the mother cows are on the other side. They aren’t able to nurse but can still be closer to the cow, making it a less stressful situation. These calves continue to graze on pastures and may begin receiving a small amount of supplemental plant-based feed for extra energy and protein to help them grow and thrive.

Stocking and Backgrounders:

After weaning, cattle continue to grow and thrive by grazing on grass, forage and other plants with ranchers providing supplemental feed including vitamins and minerals to meet all of their nutritional needs.

Photo courtesy of Willcox Livestock Auction.

Livestock Auction Markets:

After weaning and/or during the stocker and backgrounder phase, cattle may be sold at livestock auction markets.

Photo by Anna Aja.

Feedyard:

Mature cattle are often moved to feedyards. Here cattle typically spend 4 to 6 months. They are free to graze at feed bunks containing a carefully balanced diet made up of roughage (such as hay and grass), grain (such as corn, wheat and soybean meal) and local renewable feed sources. Veterinarians, nutritionists and pen riders work together to provide individual care for each animal.

Learn more about animal safety and care at the feedyard.

PACKING PLANT:

Once cattle reach market weight (typically 1,200 to 1,400 pounds at 18 to 22 months of age), they are sent to a packing plant (also called a processing facility). United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors oversee the implementation of safety, animal welfare and quality standards from the time animals enter the plant until the final beef products are shipped to grocery stores and restaurants.

Arizona beef lifecycle with Arizona rancher, Dean Fish.

What is Range Management and Why is it Important?

Most Arizona ranches cover many, many acres because of our environment here in the southwest. Our climate is arid, meaning relatively dry, so grass and forages, along with plentiful water, is challenging to maintain at times. However, this does not mean high-quality cattle can’t be raised here! By managing the land, we can ensure there are enough resources for the cattle, the wildlife, and the public who also enjoy these open spaces.

A scence from the ZZ Cattle Co. ranch.

Range management is a science which focuses on the study of rangelands and the conservation and sustainable management of these arid spaces for the benefit of current and future generations. It is the goal of the caretakers of these lands to use the resources provided, such as water, grass, and forages, to grow a high-quality product such as beef, while also maintaining a healthy ecosystem in which wildlife, flora and fauna can flourish. Proper management is key as these lands have previously been used for many generations to grow food and it is the goal of the ranchers to see their continued responsible use into the future. 

Andrew McGibbon of the Santa Rita Ranch in Green Valley, Arizona (check out the blog we wrote about his family here) explains that on his ranch they work to adapt the cattle to the environment and to rainfall amounts. One method of adaptation that is used on his ranch is called rotational grazing which means cattle are consistently moved through various pastures. In the summertime, the cattle are moved through pastures rather quickly, meaning the herd is gathered and moved to a new pasture every 10-12 days. This is done during the monsoon months of July, August and September, to protect the quickly growing grass. In the wintertime, grasses typically go dormant, which means the cattle can spend a longer amount of time in each pasture. Movement through pastures is also dependent on the amount of rainfall in that area of the ranch.

Pictured are Andrew, Micaela and Liam McGibbon with some of their cows.

As with most businesses, things are always done a little differently from ranch to ranch. Dan Bell of the ZZ Cattle Company in Nogales, Arizona (to learn more about Dan and his ranch visit this blog post) explains that range management is used across their entire ranch to ensure that cattle have fresh grass throughout the year. This allows the pastures to rest after cattle have grazed. Pastures are rested on an alternating season of use pattern. This gives the grass more time to rest and set seed, allowing for growth in the next cycle. This is especially helpful through times of drought, ensuring there is grass waiting in other areas, allowing for efficient management and use of the resource.

Range management is also important for the wildlife who cohabitate with cattle on these pasture lands. Ranchers are acutely aware of water sources and how they are used. A large pasture can be grazed more efficiently and effectively by providing water in various areas, encouraging cattle movement and equitable grazing. This allows cattle and wildlife to graze in more remote areas which were not close to a water source before but now are by adding a trough for water and a pipeline to get the water there.

It’s also important to monitor and work to improve the rangeland used by ranchers. This is done by a practice called rangeland monitoring which means we document and measure how conditions of the land are changing in response to the environment and the management practices which are in use. It helps guide ranchers to know if their current range management plan is working and how to adapt to changing circumstances such as drought. Add this tool to the rancher’s toolbox to ensure they reach their goal of seeing the land they currently raise cattle on continue to happen to see the same for generations to come.  

Special thanks to the McGibbons, Dan Bell, and Mario Preciado of the Arizona State Land Department for assistance with this blog post.