Cow’s Tongue-Amazing Abilities!

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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4 Tips to Staying Fit During the Arizona Summer

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.

Drink Lots of Waterdrinkmorewater8x10

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.

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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!

New Kid on the Block: Meet Chelsea Duree Brown

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!

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.

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.

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


Behind the Scenes: How Food Gets Around

An often unknown segment of the food business involves distribution. How does food get from one place to another? From whom do restaurants buy food? By a foodservice distributor, that’s how! The Arizona Beef Council is fortunate to work with Arizona food distributors for educational opportunities to further educate chefs and restaurateurs about beef and how it is raised in Arizona. Meet Brent Olsen, US Foods Arizona, whose job is to connect the food growers with chefs and restaurants.

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ABC: What is US Foods and what does it have to do with beef?

Brent Olsen: US Foods Arizona is a full line distributor of over 11,000 items serving the hospitality and restaurant industry in Arizona. There are 62 US Foods locations across the United States. Stock Yards is a wholly owned subsidiary of US Foods and operates 14 USDA inspected production facilities across the United States. In geographic areas not served by those locations, we contract with other facilities not owned by us to produce product for us. It may be of interest to know the US in our name actually stands for Unifax-Sexton, part or our heritage company portfolio. We have two Stock Yards production facilities in Arizona – one in Phoenix and the other in Tucson. The Phoenix location stocks and fabricates a wide variety of fresh proteins for the Arizona market and we supply products to other US Foods houses as far east as Little Rock, Arkansas. Stock Yards Phoenix focuses on domestic cattle and we deliver packer boxes of fresh beef as well as fresh cut steaks to the Arizona market 6 days a week. Stock Yards Chicago, one of our sister locations, is credited with being the first business in America to offer a cut steak program to Chicago area restaurants in 1893, almost 125 years ago. Our Tucson location produces a wide range of cooked items, including a wide range of pastrami, corned beef, roast beef, and pot roasts, in a wide variety of beef quality grades.

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ABC: When did the food distributor segment start and how much has changed?  

BO: The food distributor started in the late 1800’s and has basically moved from a group of small, regional, segment-specific companies to a huge network of much larger, full line suppliers offering anything a restaurant owner could need or want (anything from canned tomatoes to Prime Ribeyes). US Foods, as it is today, is the culmination of mergers and acquisitions that have taken place over the last 100 years. Stock Yards was also formed from a variety of specialty meat companies across the United States. Stock Yards is really fulfilling an emerging need for portion control, cut steaks, the talent pool of qualified meat cutters out there, whether at retail or foodservice, is rapidly disappearing.


ABC: How is foodservice different from retail? 

BO: There are some big differences between the two industry segments.  First, we market to restaurants, companies that are preparing the raw material for their customers to consume. Retail is marketing to household consumers. Secondly, a retail store will typically offer one grade of beef, whether it be USDA Select or USDA Choice. Foodservice is considerably more diverse with our offerings. On a strip loin steak, for example, Stock Yards Phoenix has 7 different and distinct offerings for that item. Those offerings range from USDA Prime cattle to an enhanced, ungraded, fed Holstein cattle line. Third, there are significant volume differences between retail and foodservice. Foodservice does not run weekly newspaper ads featuring beef, but we do create and promote special pricing and product offerings on a regular basis.


ABC: Who are your main customers?

BO: Our customers range from a single location, owner-operated café in a small Arizona town to multi-unit regional and national footprint customers that are state and nationwide. We supply products and services to schools, hospitals, Indian gaming locations, convention centers, caterers and restaurants across Arizona.


ABC: What are some of the common questions about beef you receive from customers? 

BO: There is a dramatic increase in interest from consumers about where food comes from. Food safety is at the forefront as well. As a USDA Inspected facility, we interact with the local USDA inspector on a daily basis to insure we’re providing safe, wholesome food to our customers. We are also GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) certified, the first facility of our type to have this certification in Arizona. There is also increased interest in quality grades, animal welfare, and “natural” offerings. Part of our goal is to help all of our customers understand what is available, and help them determine what works best for their format, customer base, and dining segment expectations.


ABC: Is there anything else you would like to share with Arizona’s rancher audience as well as consumers?

BO: Keep raising high quality beef. It’s the back bones of what we do, collectively, to provide a great eating experience for the restaurant segment we service. I’d really like to see more frequent, meaningful interaction between the ranchers, growers and our side of the business.


ABC: Will you share a little of your background?  How long have you been selling beef? 7-8-2016_Brent_headshot

BO: I started my beef career in a small mom-and-pop corner grocery store in Utah in 1969. We sourced our carcass beef from a small, local packer, and that’s where I picked up the trade. I’ve had a wide spectrum of positions in grocery retail, grocery wholesale, as well as foodservice. I’ve always worked with beef, and I love this industry and the people I’ve met wherever I’ve worked. With my current role, I travel the western United States and promote beef with a wide range of customers, and train about our products and promote our industry whenever possible.


ABC: What is your favorite cut of beef?

BO: I’m a strip loin man, through and through. It’s all about the flavor, and I’m never disappointed with a nice New York cut. A nice, juicy burger is at the top of my list as well. Keep it simple, with high quality there’s no need to hide or mask it with spices or toppings.


Brent is a journeyman meat cutter, beef lover (that shouldn’t be a surprise), and promoter of the cattle industry. He’s a pretty good water skier, as well.


The ORIGINAL Meat Dress

Back in 2010, Lady Gaga put on an entire dress made of meat for the MTV Video Music Awards. She had her own reasons for it (and it actually wasn’t to put down animal agriculture) but little did she know; she wasn’t the first person to wear a meat dress! The first meat dress appearance happened here, in Arizona, at the Arizona National Livestock Show, an annual event featuring youth from around the country and their livestock. The first Arizona National Livestock Show occurred in 1948 and happens each year, right after Christmas.

The original meat dresses!


The first meat dress was worn by Rhonda Lawrence and Marian Callas, home economists from the Arizona Public Service. The Arizona Beef Council sponsored a series of beef cooking classes at the 1970 Arizona National Livestock Show and these “meat” dresses helped show off the beef primals (a piece of meat initially separated from the carcass of an animal during butchering, such as the chuck, round, and loin) and how cuts from each area had different characteristics and qualities. Much like Lady Gaga’s meat dress, these also made a splash and were even featured on the cover of the January 1971 edition of the Arizona Cattlelog.

But why would people wear these dresses in the first place? We’ve listed out the important reasons. I promise if you give this a read, your next grilling event (4th of July, anyone) will be a huge success.


  1. Not all cuts of beef are created equally

While all the different cuts of beef contain the same nutrients (think zinc, iron, protein, and seven others), they do not have the same texture, muscle direction and length, or marbling. For example, cuts from the chuck tend to be full of flavor but lack tenderness. When you think about where the chuck is located on the animal (shoulder) and think about how much work that area of the animal does during its lifetime, it starts to make more sense why these muscles are a little on the “not as tender as a tenderloin” side. (Insert caveat: there are many great cuts from the chuck which are extremely tender, like the flat iron.) But guess what! They are still easily enjoyed with the right preparation and cooking methods. Here is more info on the other primals and what they have to offer: Beef Heaven.


  1. Know your cut of beef and follow the right cooking method

You thought I was going to leave you high and dry on that last one? Ye of little faith.

This one is probably the most important point. If you know your cut of beef, prepare, and cook it the right way, you are on your way to sweet steak success. There are so many resources out there about cooking your beef the right way, but the Interactive Butcher Counter is my favorite. It’s simple, easy to use, and includes all the info you need, plus recipes! You have many options when using this tool. You can ask it to guide you to the right cut for your needs (ex: I want to have a BBQ this week but I need something inexpensive) or you can simply type in the name of the cut you bought at the grocery store yesterday and it will lead you right to the info you need.

Don’t force your significant other to resort to this.


  1. Cooking beef is easy.

Yes, it is. Don’t argue. You just need to have the right tools.

Not for lack of trying from the various motherly figures in my life, I didn’t possess many cooking skills (#Iamatruemillenial).  Take out food worked just fine for my husband and I. But once I realized how much money we were spending on take out and the many resources available to me to make even better tasting food at home, I started down the “I’m going to learn how to cook” road. But I wouldn’t have been brave enough without Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner, the Interactive Butcher Counter, and my husband and his taste bud’s support. Of course, things like Pinterest, help out as well. From one non-chef to another, try out something easy first, like burgers, and work your way up. It’s worth it. Your wallet and taste buds will thank you.