May is officially designated as beef month! Okay, this is where I would naturally suggest that every month should be beef month but if others are talking about the cow in the month of May, then let’s go for it.
The cow has been demonized 12 ways from Sunday in recent years so any time we get the opportunity to celebrate what the cow gives us, I say we should take full advantage.
I will repeat myself but any animal (the ruminant) that can take the 70 percent of the earth’s surface that could not otherwise grow food and turn it into not only food but fiber, fuel and pharmaceuticals, then we should pause for a moment and recognize her contribution to improving both planet and human health.
First, I want to expand upon our own experiences in beef production. I suppose it is worth noting that we have 100 beef cows and 100 sows, so we are active in producing both beef and pork. Although I will readily admit that when it comes to nutrient density, I give the nod to beef. I personally believe the health of the nation has declined as the per capita consumption of beef fell from an all-time high in 1976 of 94 pounds per person to the current position of just 57 pounds per person. While I don’t want to disparage consumption of pork or chicken, I just think that when our nation consumes beef at a higher level, everything works better.
My international travel in the past 10 years taught me the benefits of U.S. corn-fed, highly marbled beef. It clearly is our niche in the world beef market. If you would have told me a year and a half ago that we would be calving cows this spring bred to Piedmontese bulls with little to no emphasis on marbling at all, I would have told you that you were nuts.
Well, that is exactly what we are doing. The calves being born right now are contracted with Lone Creek Cattle Company and will feed into the certified Piedmontese supply chain. These folks have really zoned in on what drives beef demand and, in this case, it is tenderness. I think it is worth mentioning because so many folks incorrectly believe that marbling and tenderness are the same or related and they simply are not. Well-marbled beef may not be tender while tender beef may not actually have good marbling.
While I have not changed my opinion about the importance of marbling, I suggest that one size does not fit all. The Piedmontese beef genetics are an interesting case study when it comes to fitting into the beef production scheme. Developed in Italy as a cross between Bos Taurus and Bos Indicus, these cattle have a double-muscling complex with the presence of the two DNA copies of the Myostatin gene. In layman’s terms, having that gene present makes the beef tender and, boy, does it work.
In the bigger picture, I want beef on the plate more often. In the past year I became acquainted with Dr. Georgia Ede a medical doctor who has really focused on the diet as it relates to mental health. At a recent conference in Boulder, Colorado, she gave an interesting talk and really started by posing this statement:
“The so-called “carnivore” diet—a diet completely free of plant foods—has become something of a hot new micro-trend, thanks in part to several high-profile adopters who report that switching to an all-meat diet significantly improved their mental and physical health.”
Diets, trends, fads they all come and go. I can tell you this, the culture of the United States changed as a result of the Civil War. Until the end of the Civil War, our nation was built around the hog belly. Post war vaqueros from south Texas trailed cattle 700 miles north to railheads which ultimately put those cattle in Chicago to rebuild a nation ravaged from the war.
From that era forward, the image of the cowboy was formed, and our nation was made better with beef. Today, the science clearly shows that when cellulose material is grazed by ruminants, our planet and our lives are healthier. The science clearly shows that beef improves not only mental health but overall personal health of those who choose to make it a part of their daily diet.
I am issuing a challenge to everyone reading this: Tell at least one new person each day in the month of May how it is that we are all better off with beef in our life. Of course, to top it all off, you should wrap a piece of cured hog belly around that beef and life truly could not be any better. Everything is better with beef and it’s our challenge to share that message with as many humans as we possibly can. Share your experiences and message on my new Facebook page Better with BEEF!
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.LoosTales.com, or email Trent at email@example.com.