As a thank you to all of the people who read our Arizona Beef Blog, we wanted to give you a chance to win a great prize! We are giving away a goodie bag* full of useful Arizona Beef merchandise which will include an apron, pot holder, cutting board, and a certificate for FREE BEEF which can be used at any grocery store or restaurant in Arizona. All you have to do to is:
For more inspiration to help get you through Crocktober, check out Beef It’s What’s for Dinner.
*Contest is open to all Arizona residents.
This week’s blog post was previously published on Tiffany’s personal blog, Tiffany Nicole and Co as a brainstorm during the development of a presentation she gave to the Veterinary Science Careers course at the University of Arizona.
Looking back, I now realize that I (sort of) had a cushioned and extremely lucky landing into my job at the Arizona Beef Council. I fully recognize this can be a rare phenomenon for most college graduates, but I’m so grateful for the good fortune that came my way. I prefaced my statement with “sort of” because I worked hard during my college career to make the connections and built relationships which offered me the opportunity to obtain my current position with the Arizona Beef Council. Today, I’m so extremely grateful to have been placed on this path because this job has led me to discover a passion I would never have known without it.
I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and open spaces and Arizona has no shortage of those things. Growing up, an affinity for the outdoors started while I worked at a horse training barn in exchange for riding lessons. I found myself counting down the days, hours, and minutes until I was released from the classroom and would be back outside, breathing in the scent of horses and fresh air. Caring for and riding horses is a love I began to develop as a youngster from my mother’s tales of her youth spent in the saddle, so when the time came for me to be afforded this opportunity, I was willing to put in the long hours required. In a horse barn is where I learned how to work hard, get the job done, and do it all with a pleasant attitude. I can further credit the University of Arizona and a great club, which was part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for encouraging my love for the open spaces of Arizona and for converting my love into a real passion for Arizona agriculture.
As many young college students do, I set my sites on vet school after completing my undergraduate career. Working outdoors was one major factor in my future path, so small animal medicine just wasn’t in the cards. As a result, livestock and a large animal practice is what I wanted to pursue. I did not have much large animal experience outside of horses, so I decided to join the Collegiate Cattle Growers Association. The group owned and managed a herd of cattle and hogs, which were bred each year with the end goal of raising show quality livestock that could be sold to 4H and FFA students. We also used the animals for judging practice for the University of Arizona’s Livestock Judging Team and offered hands-on animal husbandry experiences for students. As luck would have it, this was the perfect environment to pursue the path my heart called for and I so badly wanted to follow. Ultimately, I ended up learning, by and through the people I met and the experiences I obtained, is that what the universe had in store for me, actually far exceeded the original goal and expectations I had set for myself.
It has been an honor to be a part of this community and through various internships, meetings, and activities, I discovered that Arizona ranchers are some of the hardest working, most passionate, not to mention friendliest people on this planet. I also learned that agriculture was so much more than just the science, which, at first, was the personal interest I had focused on in college. It was about so much more…the land, the people, and the animals, and how they and it all worked together. Moreover, I learned caring for livestock requires more than just a focus on the animal, but a synergy with the land, the policies, the families, the neighbors, and the public. Finally, I understand that raising cattle wasn’t just a pretty photo of a grassy pasture, but a way of life and tradition, which requires all that you have to give.
Although representing Arizona beef farmers and ranchers is the technical description of what I do for the Arizona Beef Council, what I am really doing is helping secure, alongside the many other organizations, ranchers and supporters of the beef community, that there is ranching far into the future. It is my goal and our goal to ensure that beef is still at the center of your great-great-great grandchildren’s plate. For me, this isn’t just a job, it’s about ensuring the open spaces stay open and the steaks keep sizzling.
As a perk for our blog readers, we are offering an exclusive, behind-the-scenes sneak peek look at a special video project we are working on! Lauren, Tiffany, and Ben Spitzer of Silo & Co Productions, just finished up traveling 469 miles in two days to capture the vast amount of knowledge Arizona beef farmers and ranchers have to share with the families who enjoy a delicious steak and want to know how it was raised.
The Arizona Beef Council is dedicated to sharing the story of Arizona Beef. We like to watch the short videos on Facebook and Instagram just as much as the next person, so this project seemed like the perfect way to expand our reach! Enjoy these photos from the trip and be sure to check back soon!
Special thanks to Dr. Sam Garcia of the University of Arizona Food Product and Safety Lab, Dean Fish of the Sante Fe Ranch, The Bell Family of ZZ Cattle Co., The McGibbon Family of the Santa Rita Ranch, Bass Aja of Pinal Feeding Co., and Wes Kerr of Kerr Dairy for your hospitality and willingness to share your knowledge with us! And of course, thank you to Ben Spitzer of Silo and Co Productions for your creativity, knowledge, and patience.
Each farm, ranch, or business involved in any segment of the beef community plays a unique role in ensuring safe, nutritious meat is readily available for both me and you to eat. The first part of the beef lifecycle begins on the ranch. Ranchers maintain a herd of cows who give birth and nurture a calf every year. The first couple months of a young calf’s life are spent gaining nourishment from the cow’s milk and grazing on pasture grass. When calves are about six months old and are big enough to fend for themselves, they are separated from the cow during what is considered “weaning time.” About a third of female heifers (a heifer is a female cow who has not yet given birth to a calf) will stay on the ranch for breeding purposes, while castrated male steers and all other heifers will be up for sale. Sometimes, they are sold to what is referred to as a “stocker or backgrounder” where they will continue to graze on pasture and put on more weight before moving to a feedlot. Some cattle are sold directly to the feed yard shortly after being weaned.
The majority of livestock are sold at auction. Today, it is not uncommon for weaned calves to be sold online. However, there are still hundreds of sale barns all over the United States that hold live auctions on a weekly basis. The Marana Stockyards, located just outside of Tucson, is an example of one such sale barn. For more information on the complete beef lifecycle, visit FactsAboutBeef.com.
The Marana Stockyards have been owned and operated by the Parsons family since 1992, and play a vital role in the Arizona cattle community. They auction off over 1,200 cattle every Wednesday afternoon. Summer is a slower season, but they expect to see as many as 2,000 cattle run through the sale barn each week this upcoming fall and spring. Now, that’s a lot of beef! This summer, I was able to sit down with Seth Nichols and Clay Buck Parsons, both of the Marana Stockyards, and get a feel for what goes into running a successful auction house.
One thing that was made very clear when talking to these two gentlemen, is that the Marana Stockyards always has their client’s best interest at heart. Both Parson and Nichols come from ranching backgrounds and understand what buyers and sellers expect. When cattle are received, they are sorted into “packages” depending on the current market demand. The packages are differentiated by a variety of factors including the number of cattle, sex, and age. The stockyard analyzes what trends are the most popular at the time in the cattle market and group animals accordingly. The end game is simple; get the most money for your cattle!
The Marana Stockyards does their part in getting ranchers the most bang for their buck but also emphasize only so much can be done once an animal makes it to the auction house. As Buck Parsons puts it, “Getting top dollar for your cattle doesn’t start at the sale barn. It starts at the ranch itself and making cattle the most marketable they can possibly be.” Simple practices, such as vaccinating and castrating, bring a significantly higher price come auction time. Even such things as producing calm, relaxed, gentle animals go a long way and could potentially increase someone’s profits. The stockyards do their part in trying to educate ranchers on what management practices are the best and what will ultimately benefit the rancher in the end.
While the majority of cattle who enter the sale barn are from Arizona ranchers, the animals next destination is varied. Stocker calves, who are smaller and need some more time to grow, may be headed off to a ranch, while larger weanlings are typically transported to Texas, Kansas, or Colorado feedlots. Older cows and bulls are purchased by buyers from packing houses.
The Marana Stockyards has been serving Arizona ranchers for close to 15 years. Just think of how many cattle have come through the barn in that amount of time! The stockyards do an outstanding job of educating their clients on growing healthy animals. They continue to help better the Arizona cattle community. Both the Parsons and Nichols families are active in Arizona cattle organizations and encourage others to get involved. They know the importance of sticking together as one united community and feel that if everyone does his or her part, then Arizona beef will continue to thrive for generations to come.
Blog post by Michelle Allen, Arizona Beef Council and Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association 2016 Summer Intern.
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.
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.
A 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes 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!
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!)
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!
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 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.
The 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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.