Amanda Radke: A Cowgirl’s Perspective 5-14-12
Despite a few blips on the radar the last couple of months, May is Beef Month, and we have a lot to celebrate. The controversy surrounding lean finely textured beef (LFTB) and the shocking news of the cow with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) has certainly had an impact on the beef cattle markets, with consumers questioning the safety and quality of the U.S. beef supply.
The news headlines blasting beef, using derogatory and slanderous phrases such as “pink slime” and “mad cow disease,” only ignite the fears of our beef customers; however, despite the libelous statements made by the press, beef demand, domestically and abroad appears to be strong. I’m confident, that with a little effort on our part, this will only be a minor speed bump in the beef cattle business.
So, what can farmers and ranchers do to promote beef and reassure consumers that beef is a safe, wholesome product to feed their families? We must promote the positive beef productions story, and it can start with May Beef Month!
With holidays like Cinco de Mayo and Memorial Day, consumers are firing up the grill and enjoying time outside with their families. Swing by your local grocery store and visit with folks at the meat case. Whether they want to grill up a high-end product like the ribeye roll, or they are looking for budget-friendly meals including ground beef, ranchers can offer up cooking tips, best cuts to use for each recipe, ideal preparation methods and secret rubs and marinades for manning the grill with the success.
Moreover, research is on our side. Share the great news of the “Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet” (BOLD) study, which shows that diets including lean beef every day are as effective in lowering total and LDL “bad” cholesterol as the gold standard of heart-healthy diets. Study participants experienced a 10 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol, while consuming diets containing 4.0 to 5.4 oz. of lean beef daily. The research found in this study adds to the growing body of evidence that shows lean beef can be part of a heart-healthy diet. It’s backed by a recent Harvard review that compiled 20 epidemiological studies encompassing more than one million subjects concluding that red meat intake does not increase risk of heart disease.
More great news for agriculture enthusiasts is a new song written by country music star, Steve Azar, called, “American Farmer.” The song was written as a fundraiser for the South Dakota FFA and has already raised more than $6,000 to benefit young people in my state. CD’s are available at: http://Shop.SteveAzar.com/American-Farmer-CD-CD-AmFarmer.htm. “American Farmer” is also available on iTunes.
The chorus of the song has a powerful message that makes me feel proud to be in agriculture: “And no matter the rain, heat or snow, he wakes up before the break of dawn, works as hard as the day is long, and like a mother cares for her child, he’ll cling to his precious land, readies those fields and sews the seeds, with his own two fists, he’ll fight the weeds and wears his coat of sweat, like it’s some kind of armor. That’s the American farmer.”
While the negative attacks on our industry have fueled some setbacks in the beef and cattle markets, it’s time to focus on the positive and get back on track. And, the time to do it is now during May Beef Month! Be proactive in sharing the positive beef production story – that beef is a healthy part of the diet and is raised by families who care about the environment and the animals. Let’s celebrate America’s most beloved protein! Fire up the grill and enjoy!