Think About It: Food Waste is a Big Deal

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

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

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

Here are some helpful tips to avoid food waste:

  • Fight waste with awareness. Did you know that the film packaging used for store-bought meats is not moisture-vapor resistant? If the meat you purchase is not wrapped in a heavy-duty film, make it last longer by putting it in a freezer safe bag or container.
  • Protein is an essential macronutrient, which means, it’s not just for dinner. Use last night’s steak in breakfast tacos or throw leftover fajita strips in a baggie with your favorite veggies for a well-balanced midafternoon snack.
  • Meal prep and menu planning are great ways to waste less food. Do you know how to portion your food?
  • Take action in the fight against food waste and encourage others to do the same on social media using #WasteLess.

A Marinade You Need In Your Life

Let’s cut to the chase. Some beef cuts are tender (think Tenderloin, Ribeye, Flat Iron, New York Strip) and some are a little more tough (Flank Steak, Top Round, Skirt Steak). They don’t have to stay that way, though. The tougher cuts really are tender at heart – they just need a little more TLC and voilà! You have a juicy, flavorful piece of beef to enjoy.

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

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

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

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Ginger-Soy Marinade

INGREDIENTS

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

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

Tips:

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

Enjoy!

~Lauren4-8-2016_Lauren with tongs

 

The Most Important Part of Feeding Cattle? The People.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Bass and his crew at Pinal Feeding Co.

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


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

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

Meet Arizona’s 2016 Beef Ambassadors: Molli Griffin and Kailee Zimmerman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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