Masters of Beef Advocacy Course 1: Modern Beef Production Course Introduction: Beef…It’s What’s for Dinner • • • • Where does

beef come from? Is “natural” beef safer? Is grass-fed beef more nutritious? Why do you use antibiotics and hormones to produce beef?

More than ever before, consumers have a lot of questions about their food and beef is no exception. They see cattle grazing in the fields and fresh beef in the meat case but don’t know what happens in that “fuzzy spot” in between. Unfortunately, anti-animal agriculture activist groups exploit this lack of knowledge and thirst for information. They use terms like “factory farming” and “industrial agriculture” as they try to cast modern beef production in a negative light. They want consumers to believe modern beef production is harmful to the environment, cruel to animals and produces unsafe and unhealthy food. You know that’s not true, but what can you do about it? You can answer their questions. You can help connect the consumer to the people who produce their food. You’re the expert. You can put a face on modern beef production. Let’s start with some background on modern beef production. As you know, consumers’ lifestyles and budgets have changed over time and beef production has evolved to meet those needs. For instance, we now provide consumers with grain-finished, grass-fed, certified organic and natural beef products. While each kind of beef offers something different to the consumer, all beef shares one common denominator that continues to spark demand: a safe, wholesome and nutritious meal. What consumers need to know is the range of options in beef products results from the different ways cattle are fed and raised. But what all types of beef have in common is the same safety and nutritional benefits. All beef goes through a rigorous inspection process and is subject to strict government guidelines to ensure the highest level of safety, and all beef choices are a nutrient-rich source of protein, zinc, iron and many other nutrients. This course will provide a brief overview of what consumers need to know about modern beef production and conclude by reviewing the various beef choices available today and what to tell consumers who are weighing their options.

000 American producers whose livelihoods depend on producing a safe. These are farms and ranches like people see along highways and country roads. How are cattle raised? Cow-calf operation Most beef calves are born on cow-calf operations. the typical herd averages just 40 head of cattle. beef comes from one of the 800. beef industry? Cattle and beef production represent the largest single segment of American agriculture. Thanks to the efforts of cattle farmers and ranchers. they do they want to be confident the beef they serve their family is safe and produced in a responsible manner. cattle graze 2 . Producers nationwide are responsible for more than 100 million head of beef cattle. wholesome and nutritious beef at an affordable price for consumers around the world.Course 1: Modern Beef Production Consumers need to know… • • • • The modern beef production system provides a year-round supply of safe.-raised beef comes from one of the 800. So what’s the best way to explain modern beef production to the average consumer? You can use the information in this section to help you provide simple. USDA says more farms are classified as beef cattle operations (35%) than any other type. In fact.000 American producers whose livelihood dependso n producing a safe.S. U.S. Section One: Beef Production While most consumers probably don’t want to actually visit a feedlot or processing plant. wholesome and nutritious product tailored to the needs of consumers. Most cattle farms and ranches are family owned and operated and for many producers. How big is the U. During this stage. According to USDA.S. All U. raising cattle is a family tradition passed down through generations. No matter what type of beef you prefer. today’s consumers can choose from a wider selection of beef products than ever before. straightforward information. you can be confident all beef choices are safe. wholesome and nutritious product tailored to the needs of consumers. wholesome and nutritious. though most cattle operations are smaller than most people might think. There is no better source for consumers to get their information on beef production than from the people who actually produce it.

100 and 1.Course 1: Modern Beef Production in herds on large pastures within sight of their mothers. most large feedlots have environmental engineers on staff or on contract to ensure the operation is in compliance with the strict Environmental Protection Agency regulations that govern concentrated animal feeding operations. In fact. Cattle usually spend four to six months in a feedlot. Cattle are carefully loaded and unloaded into trailers that are specially designed to avoid injury and strain. Weaned and castrated male calves (called steers) may graze until about one year old and then their sold to a cattle feeder or a stocker/backgrounder who will prepare the animal for the feedlot. The harvest process has evolved over the years to ensure both humane animal treatment and the production of safe food. Packing plant technicians then use a mechanical stunning device to quickly and effectively render animals unconscious.250 pounds. Life at the feedlot Feedlots look different than cow-calf and backgrounding operations because cattle do not graze on pasture. during which they are fed a scientifically formulated ration averaging 70 percent to 90 percent grain. they are taken to a feedlot. They also have constant access to water. Like cow-calf operations. Once most cattle reach approximately 12-18 months. Instead. cattle may be transferred from cow-calf operations to backgrounders or stockers. they are moved inside in a quiet and orderly manner.” They are then transported to packing plants to be harvested and processed. but also for protecting the environment. Arriving at the packing plant When cattle arrive at packing plants. The Humane Slaughter Act (passed in 3 . There is little excess movement or unnecessary noise so cattle are not unduly stressed. A variety of precautions are taken during transportation minimize stress and injury to the animals. Operators are not only responsible for constantly monitoring the health and well-being of cattle. they are weaned from their mothers. Environmental factors such as water quality. these are mostly familyowned ranches and farms where cattle graze on pasture or start receiving grain to supplement their diet. Stockers and backgrounding As weanlings. air quality and land utilization are monitored and managed in feedlots daily. Transportation Once cattle have reached 18 to 22 months of age or weigh between 1. they are usually separated into groups of 100 animals and live in pens that allow about 125 to 250 square feet of room per animal. they are typically considered “finished. As calves reach six to 10 months of age.

Following are brief snapshots explaining the key differences between various beef choices.Course 1: Modern Beef Production 1958 and updated in 1978 and 2002) dictates strict animal handling and slaughtering standards for packing plants. Ultimately. like organic or grass-fed beef. But that’s the subject for another course: beef nutrition. eye of round and round tip. wholesome and nutritious. Some plants sell subprimals to meat processing facilities where workers break them down into individual steaks and roasts that are sent to supermarkets and restaurants. Consumers may look to you to explain the key differences between the different choices of beef. sirloin and 95% lean ground beef. However. round. 4 . While you’re probably familiar with various production methods. Subprimals are smaller cuts of meat such as the bottom round. it’s beneficial to think about beef choices from the consumers' perspective. This gives you an opportunity to emphasize that no matter what type of beef consumers choose. Primals include the chuck. let’s take a look at the choices of beef available to today’s consumer… Section Two: Beef Choices When it comes to beef. most consumers tell us that taste is their highest priority. Fabrication When beef leaves the packing plant it is in large sections called primals or subprimals. beef cattle are now much leaner than just a decade ago because of consumer demand for products with less fat. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) observes federally-inspected facilities to ensure compliance with all regulations. top round. To complete the modern beef production story. Supermarkets and restaurants Once beef reaches retailers and foodservice operators who sell beef products in supermarkets and restaurants. from pasture to plate. and loin. additional steps are taken to ensure safety and quality. For instance. That’s why there are now 29 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean. rib. consumers dictate the actions of the beef production chain. by determining what kinds of beef they will buy and at what price. they can be confident all beef choices are safe. a growing number of consumers are interested in buying beef that has been produced under very specific conditions. including some of our favorite cuts like tenderloin.

grain-finished cattle are moved to a feedlot where they receive a carefully balanced diet.” “raised without antibiotics.” Since the definition of “natural” production practices can vary. “raised without hormones. Grain-finished beef cattle spend most of their lives in range or pasture conditions eating grass. natural means that a product is minimally processed and contains no additives.Course 1: Modern Beef Production So think about what’s on their minds. Many companies are raising beef under “natural” production practices.” “free range” and “vegetarian fed. Natural beef The definition of “natural” beef can confuse some consumers. That’s why most grass-finished beef is imported from Australia and New Zealand where grass grows all year. By this definition. most beef in the meat case is natural. Concentrates may be grain such as corn or barley. is the most widely produced kind of beef in the United States. Grain-finished beef assures a consistent. year-round supply of high quality beef with the tenderness and flavor most consumers prefer. However. This feeding period typically lasts between four and six months. The cattle are fed a scientifically formulated ration of 70 percent to 90 percent concentrate. also known as conventional or grain-fed. At 12 to 18 months of age. grass-fed cattle (also known as grassfinished) eat only a grass and forage-based diet throughout their whole lifespan. high fiber co-products that result from processing grains for human use. it is important for consumers to read labels carefully to understand what a particular company means when it says “natural. This is the product most consumers see in the meat case at the supermarket. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In North America it’s difficult to produce grass-fed beef in large due to limited growing seasons. 5 . What would you want to know about the beef you buy in the store? What does natural mean? What’s the difference between natural and organic? Don’t all cattle eat grass? Grain-finished (conventional) beef Grain-finished. or they can be high energy.” Grass-fed beef Consumers typically don't know that all cattle spend the majority of their lives eating grass in pastures. Common “natural” production claims include.

Course 1: Modern Beef Production Grass-finished beef is often described as having a distinct taste and may require different preparation methods. Antibiotics. there has been a lot of misinformation that has led to a great deal of consumer confusion on these very issues. wholesome and nutritious. Producers and veterinarians take great care to promptly diagnose illnesses in cattle. Treating Sick Cattle with Antibiotics The primary day-to-day concern for all cattle producers is the health and wellbeing of their animals. are medications that fight bacterial infections. which results in higher prices than other beef choices in the meat case. Like many organic products. Unfortunately. Organically-raised cattle must be fed 100 percent organic feed. Certified organic beef can be grain-fed or grass-finished. including marinades and shorter cooking times. Antibiotics made specifically for cattle are used to help an animal regain or maintain superior health and produce safe beef. Advances in technology allow beef producers and veterinarians to treat and prevent illnesses more effectively than ever before. they can be confident the beef they buy is safe. but you can help consumers understand why and how beef producers use antibiotics and growth promotants to care for cattle. Section Three: Antibiotics and Growth Promotants You probably already know that the use of antibiotics and growth promotants are among the most controversial issues surrounding modern beef production. organic beef is more expensive to produce. Organic food differs only in the way it is grown. also known as antimicrobials. If consumers take away just one thing about beef choices. 6 . it should be that regardless of the type of beef they choose. Certified organic beef Certified organic beef must meet USDA’s National Organic Program standards. USDA states organically produced food is no safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced foods. not how it's handled and processed. so they are providing the most efficient treatment and getting the animal back to good health quickly. and they may not be given hormones to promote growth or antibiotics for any reason. When they need to they treat them with the correct type and amount of medication.

help cattle efficiently convert their feed into more pounds of lean muscle. More than 500 different studies have been conducted on growthpromoting products and submitted as part of this stringent approval process. growth promotants are required to go through a comprehensive. FDA has developed an approval process that stringently manages antibiotic use and specifically monitors for potential resistance. FSIS has conducted testing since 1967. If approved. which are enforced by multiple government agencies.Course 1: Modern Beef Production Antibiotics used in beef production must go through a rigorous testing process before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assure the safety of cattle as well as beef products entering the food supply. Most growth promotants are used to supplement existing hormones or compensate for missing hormones in an animal’s body. they generally work by discouraging protein depletion and encouraging protein synthesis in cattle so they can gain more lean muscle from less feed. Although these products vary in active ingredients and dose. The hormones in growth promotants are metabolized or used by the animal’s body before it goes to harvest. these products are then re-evaluated by FDA annually and only remain in the marketplace if they are still proven safe. Growth promotants typically are administered through a small pellet. 7 . like land and feed. government mandates that no beef with antibiotic residues that exceed strict FDA standards be allowed in the food supply. The U. First. which is placed under the skin on the back of an animal’s ear.S. multi-step scientific review process to ensure animal health and food safety. This system helps protect human health while giving veterinarians and beef producers the tools needed to keep animals healthy. These production technologies sometimes referred to as growth hormones or steroids. They can also be administered through an animal’s feed. In addition. called an implant. Growth Promotants Lead to Leaner Beef America’s cattle producers have safely used growth promotants for nearly 60 years to produce the lean beef consumers demand while using fewer resources. The safety of growth promoting products used in cattle production is assured through several layers of requirements. and the most recent data show zero residue violations for growth promotants in cattle. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) tests beef for growth promotant residues at harvest to ensure compliance with FDAestablished safe levels.

As a reminder. But consider your thoughts and opinions about what has been written and offer a concise response of no more than 50 words. Homework It’s now time to apply your general knowledge and what you learned in this course to complete a homework assignment.Course 1: Modern Beef Production Course Review: The Checkout Line The modern beef production system gives consumers a year-round supply of consistent. wholesome and nutritious. where they express their thoughts and opinions. Assignment: Practice being an advocate for Modern Beef Production First. consumers today can choose from a wider selection of beef products than ever before. consumers need to know: • • • • The modern beef production system provides a year-round supply of safe. Thanks to the efforts of cattle farmers and ranchers. beef. 8 . We’re not asking you to actually post the comment – we’ll go into more detail about that in another course. Please draft a similar comment. beef comes from one of the 800. Beef producers at every level of the production process take seriously their responsibility to provide safe and wholesome food for America’s dinner tables.S. you can be confident all beef choices are safe. shares the same popular characteristics that put it at the center of the dinner plate: taste. wholesome and nutritious product tailored to the needs of consumers. With so many new terms in the meat case.000 American producers whose livelihoods depend on producing a safe. please read the news article posted below. This is an effective method of helping to get the true story out about beef. it's beneficial for consumers to have a basic understanding of the different options available. All U. wholesome and nutritious beef at an affordable price for consumers around the world. high-quality beef for consumers at every price point. The great news for consumers is that all U. You will see several comments from readers after the article. No matter what type of beef you prefer. nutrition and safety. regardless of type or brand.S.

Plenty of consumers are looking for more healthful..Course 1: Modern Beef Production What's your beef? Posted by Leslie Cole. LESSON NO. one from a grass-fed animal. Does a muddle about a PR message really matter to anyone? Yes. which started in 1986 with 14 eastern Oregon ranches and now encompasses more than 100 cattle ranching members as far away as New Mexico. indeed. but what? "I think it comes down to the consumer understanding what they're purchasing. including in Oregon. implying something. we might think we know." That's because all cattle eat grass. Trader Joe's and New Seasons now offer similar house brands. But to call a steak "grass-fed" and comply with the American Grassfed Association and the USDA Agricultural 9 . which use the term "natural" on their labels . Hawaii and North Dakota.S. Witness Country Natural Beef (formerly known as Oregon Country Beef)." says Gabrielle Homer. "We want them to get what they want. February 17. but often we don't. at least for the first few months of life. and the terms are widely misunderstood." So do we.from an animal fattened up on grain. 1 All beef is grass-fed. 2009 Grass fed? Grain finished? Organic? Free-range? How do you know. Seems the writer was a bit confused. The problem is this: Most labels are vague or oversimplified. the other -. Portland elementary and middle school students compared hamburgers made from grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef. And there was no clear winner. The confusion certainly isn't slowing the growth of this segment of the beef market -. and the kids didn't prefer one over the other? Maybe that's because they While the press release used the term grass-fed. Is it organic? Grassfed? And do any of these "green" terms really mean that the cow led a happy life frolicking in a local farmer's field? Thanks to confusing marketing terms. Restaurant menus and well-meaning butchers consistently make mistakes. Premium "natural" meat brands such as California's Niman Ranch have been so successful that stores including Whole Foods Market. School is in session. The Oregonian. it also talked about how the cattle ate grain for part of their lives.the brands touting "healthy practices" are booming these days. an executive for Painted Hills Natural Beef in Fossil. While "healthy" beef still is only about 3 percent of total U. it's growing in volume and value by about 30 percent a year.perhaps more familiar to most kids -. What? Two burgers. beef sold. but they may not be buying what they think they're buying. as were the several news services that picked up the story and ran it without question. because it's further evidence of the rampant confusion about so-called "green" food in the marketplace. but very little is true "grass-fed beef.. which doesn't help. and what does it mean? When I read the press release. responsibly raised beef and are willing to pay a premium for it. something didn't seem right: At a taste test conducted by Oregon State University.

" Under most brands. indicates a set of practices ranchers and beef companies have followed with their beef cattle. producers must raise animals without added hormones and most antibiotics. and that it was minimally processed. A nationwide standard is on the way: USDA just wrote rules. they. mass-produced beef cattle leave the pasture by 6 months of age to live out their lives in a feed yard or feedlot. Betty Fussell. But again." To use the marketing claim. If they are not an ideal way to fatten cows. where they're fattened up quickly on high-calorie grain. additive-free grains? "Natural" doesn't get you there. author of the new book "Raising Steaks" (see accompanying story). and feed 100 percent vegetarian rations (no animal proteins). On food packaging. including Beef Northwest Feeders in Boardman. the steak wasn't pumped up with a sodium solution to make it more tender. One thing that lots of "green" beef eaters don't know is that most "naturally raised" animals spend three to six months in feedlots. In other words.S. not grain). the picture is nuanced." LESSON NO." says Billy Cox. though they're not yet in effect." Oliver says.Course 1: Modern Beef Production Marketing Service's official definition. producers say. "It's just not what people expect. "Right now the majority of claims on naturally raised animal products are defined by the individual company. too. which are thought by many to be a source of environmental. the animal must only eat mother's milk. Ranchers supply documentation and sign affidavits to become part of such groups as Country Natural Beef or Niman Ranch. or grain-finished (translation: What did it eat during those final months of fattening)? LESSON NO. outlining requirements for using the term "naturally raised." says Carrie Oliver. This takes more time. spokesman for the USDA's agricultural marketing service.oliverranch. Love the idea of cattle romping in open pastures and munching on special. but some goes to a feed yard (where it eats hay. it means no hormones given to animals. But exactly what it means depends on the is dedicated to preaching truths about artisan beef and steering shoppers to top producers. head to a feedlot to eat grain for three to six months. but at 14 months of age. neither are 10 . So-called "naturally raised" beef is a hybrid: They spend more of their lives on the range. most U. It's up to you to decide which you prefer. Oregon's midsize operations have more space per cow and better living conditions for animals than the industry norm. and USDA has the authority to audit the paperwork. 3 "Natural" means nothing. By comparison. but here are three questions to ask if you want true grass-fed beef: Did the animal eat any grain? Was it 100 percent grass-fed? Was it grassfinished. and concludes that those "in the right location and on the right scale can be run humanely and soundly. "The thing people want when they get grass-fed beef is that bucolic cow on green grass. no antibiotics and an all-vegetarian diet. "Naturally raised. grass or hay for its entire life. whose Oliver Ranch Web site (www. "natural" simply means the meat product contains no artificial ingredients. spent time at dozens of feedlots around the nation. and more land." on the other hand. "(A feed yard) is not necessarily bad. "It depends on the company what their definition of 'natural' is. this allows for more-marbled meat. so relatively few folks are doing it. That's confused a lot of people in the marketplace. 2 Most grass-fed beef lives out its life on the range. worker-safety and animal welfare problems.

a brand that works with about 10 Oregon and Washington ranches." Oliver suggests looking past vagaries on the label. and all still good. Check out the Web sites. there's a lot of natural variety. Beef is much more complex than marbling. such as the Portland-based Food Alliance.there's no requirement for third-party verification. it's in their best interest to pursue practices that keep animals and the land healthy. Go to a farmers market and talk to a rancher. stress on animals. Proponents of organic food scored a huge victory when USDA's national organic program passed." Oliver says. That doesn't mean ranchers are trying to break the rules. or Humane Farm Animal Care. Call and ask questions. In the conventional cattle system.isn't certified by an outside party. One common misconception is that grass-finished beef is too lean to taste good. "There are all these people who are trying to scratch out a living in central and eastern Oregon. which can be all over the spectrum. do some homework. natural or organic." Oliver says. 5 Beef is like wine. LESSON NO. doing your homework and finding producers you can trust. 4 There are no. "It's a heckuva lot more like wine. we should explore them. sales consultant with SP Provisions. full-flavored meat. The details matter. even if it means doing a little more work to find what you want. or few. you can have absolutely delicious. and they don't get credit for it. it's all about marbling (USDA grade) and yield. but many opt not to because of the cost. Despite the pending USDA regulation governing the term "naturally raised. let's not make assumptions about taste. who hosts blind tastings of artisan beef for groups around the country. "They're doing great stuff." says Oliver. But guess what? Most "naturally raised" beef -. "And I think that surprises people." Breed." producers only need submit adequate paperwork to make the claim -. "If we can find a way to celebrate that. which sells Cascade Natural Beef. guarantees." says Brett Meisner." If you're skeptical.the lion's share of the green market -. "The truth is. Now that we have more beef options. "There are other things that influence taste besides marbling. with uniform standards for producers and certifying agents verifying producers' claims." LESSON NO. we'll be better off. Finally. diet.Course 1: Modern Beef Production they in themselves the devil's work. "If it's been wellraised and aged well. regional differences and aging have much to do with taste. in fact. Beef producers can pay for certification with inspections by independent groups." 11 .

grain-finished (corn. Strawberry Mountain Natural Beef: Founded in 2005 by John Day rancher Darrel Holliday. alfalfa. USDA grade high Select/low Choice. Small size of program allows for greater quality Grass-fed: Though all cows eat grass for a portion of their lives. who sign affidavits to participate in program. What do the labels mean? Here are commonly accepted definitions of terms found on meat labels. grain-finished for 90-120 days. Among the few programs that dry ages its beef. check Consumer Reports' eco-labels center: www. no antibiotics administered and 100 percent vegetarian feed. where cattle spend up to a year on pasture before going to a feed yard to eat corn or another vegetarian ration for fattening and extra marbling. Only animals born and raised on members' ranches are part of program. which some producers don't want to shoulder or pass on to customers. Angus or Angus-cross. barley for 4 to 5 months before processing). USDA Choice beef. grain-finished: Common practice for "naturally raised" beef. true grass-fed beef eats only grass or hay for the duration of its life. Asking for "grass-finished" or "all grass fed" is the best way to find this type of beef. Ground meat products get more e-coli testing at plant than what USDA specifies. grain-finished for 90 days. it's not just about food. Naturally raised: Implies no hormones added to feed. started in 1986 with 14 ranches in Oregon. pasture-raised. which markets cattle from about 70 Oregon and Washington and Idaho ranches. aged 14 to 21 days. USDA Choice grade. and that cattle had access to pasture for a bigger portion of its life than commercial beef. no antibiotics or hormones given to animals. Private label started by Portland meat distributor SP Provisions about five years ago. For ranchers who rear cattle on grass. Works with 10 Northwest ranches. partly because of the shortage and expense of organic grain and the cost of certification. grain-finished. Cascade Natural Beef: Pasture-raised. Grass-fed.greenerchoices. You won't find much Certified Organic beef at the meat counter. Angus or Angus-cross animals. Cooperative with around 100 members.Course 1: Modern Beef Production What's in a name? Here's what Oregon's best-known naturally raised beef producers have to say: Country Natural Beef (formerly Oregon Country Beef): Pasture-raised. Beef comes from more than 20 ranches. Organic beef: Beef that grazes on pasture that's certified organic and eats only certified organic grains. encompassing range management and holistic raising of animals. Owners of seven Wheeler County ranches manage program. 12 . sales associate Brett Meisner says. ownership maintained through processing. sustainable farming and fair labor practices. No animal products in feed. To learn more about what's behind specific brands or certification programs. wet aged at least 21 days. it's a philosophy. no antibiotics or hormones given to animals. Angus or Angus-cross cattle. Certified by Food Alliance. Painted Hills Natural Beef: Pasture-raised. independent third party that has standards for animal welfare. No animal products in feed.

The corollary for cattle is "pasture-raised. you see lots of labels with different claims. they were concentrating on humane practices. (Instead). Choice. How to choose? The problem is there are so many elements involved: Niman Ranch was never grass-finished. because they're very responsible toward their animals and what they're doing. No antibiotics. If this is your issue. with Prime having the most. The woman who describes herself as a "mad carnivore" spent months visiting stock shows and rodeos.S. an engaging read in which Fussell takes on the history. I think they're all good guys. Author sees some 'good guys' in cattle industry Food writer Betty Fussell knows beef and all its contradictions. meat processors/packers). Meat becomes more tender. founders of Country Natural Beef). Some programs interpret "none" as nothing given 120 days before slaughter. Dry aged: The traditional process of placing a whole carcass in a refrigerated room and allowing enzymes to break down muscle fibers and develop flavor. as opposed to conventional beef that spends much of its life in confined feeding operations. such as Niman Ranch or Country Natural Beef. Country Natural was never grass-finished. 13 . from grass-fed to vegetarian-fed to sustainably raised. but flavor isn't as concentrated as with dry aging. Select: A measure of intramuscular fat or marbling. 416 pages). USDA Prime. Vegetarian diet: Feeding rations did not contain ground-up animal parts. science and politics of beef. Now that "natural" beef is more widely available. They were the opposite of the great big four (U.Course 1: Modern Beef Production Free-range: A term usually applied to poultry. talking with meat scientists and cattlemen (including Oregon's own Doc and Connie Hatfield. $26. and the enduring confusion about brands." meaning livestock spends many months on pasture. grow? Can they become too large to be accountable for their practices and cattle? How to square the business model for growth with small and local and regional? That's a problem. ask producers if theirs is a "never. small feedlots. meaning the animal hasn't been given growth enhancers or antibiotics at any point in its life. labels and claims. Select the least. The result is "Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. What happens when "natural" beef marketing cooperatives. Done by only a handful of producers and butchers. and getting to know environmentalists and feedlot operators. small ranches. no added hormones: Antibiotics and growth hormones are feed additives in conventional beef operations. never" program. We recently spoke with Fussell by phone about the growth of the green movement in beef. Wet aged: Beef vacuum-packed in heavy plastic held at 34 to 38 degrees for seven to 28 days.

." or "pasture raised. well-managed. Talk to ranchers. She's looking for information on buying cooperatives. I'm not a purist on this. bulk purchasing from small ranches. Be skeptical.000 or 200. What's the greenest beef of all? The green-minded shopper should look for beef that's grass-finished and humanely cared for.. grass finished beef producer. 14 . It's the whole package. that's not good for anyone. I wrote a critique of this study a while back (www. Farmers Markets are another great place to meet ranchers who sell naturally raised beef by the quarter or no hormones. So where's the control? It's hard to maintain. Then someone like Whole Foods gets interested. Then they really have to keep expanding.eatwild. I've seen some small-scale feedlots where things are being done well. so why should we trust brands? The buyer needs to investigate. Look at the Internet. so it's nice to see you clarifying the issue.mossbackfarm. See who you like.000 head . You have to know more than that. Bill Niman (founder of Niman Ranch) sold the brand last can lead you to grass-fed producers in the region who sell direct and in bulk. It is the enormously big feedlots where you have 100. This is the way our publicity machinery has worked for a century. Spend time looking around. Is there such a thing as a "good" feedlot? There is to me. Talk to me about feedlots or feed yards. I hate the big generalizations. etc. As a grassfed. Then you have to supply your suppliers. This is not unusual.Course 1: Modern Beef Production More ranchers want to come in (under a "natural beef" label) because it's a good thing (for profits). the family-owned companies where everything is local. Go to your local farmers market. family-owned. Any other ideas to share? Posted by mossbackfarm on 02/17/09 at 12:29PM Thanks for this article. The name is the brand. There are a whole lot of (beef producers) that grew up kind of naturally. where cattle go to be fattened up before slaughter." can I assume it to be true? You can't just trust the name. When a meat package says things like "no antibiotics. Here's my two cents: www. talk to growers. it's very frustrating to see competitors jump on the bandwagon without doing the work to create quality. Try to find out for yourself. There isn't to Michael Pollan (author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma") or Eric Schlosser (author of "Fast Food Nation"). He's out of it. like Harris Ranch. READER COMMENTS (7) Post a comment Posted by lcole on 02/17/09 at 11:49AM Where to buy natural beef for less? Janet e-mailed me today asking where she can find naturally raised beef at lower prices than what supermarkets charge.

educational pieces such as this are crucial.mossbackfarm. so it's nice to see you clarifying the issue. and inevitably they're the ones who run out early and wish they would have bought more :). The small farms can't compete with the large advertising budgets of the larger farms and/or those that sell through commercial retailers. some of our customers with smaller families go in with neighbors. OR www. grass finished beef producer. I work in the industry and often must wrangle with just these questions. no antibiotics and are fed no animal byproducts. Ursula McVittie Nicky USA. 15 . Rich Mossback Farm LLC Yamhill. or hay. and while it can seem like a lot of meat. Cheers. and while it can seem like a lot of or email us as wistfulmistfarm@yahoo. it's very frustrating to see competitors jump on the bandwagon without doing the work to create quality. Until USDA regulations catch up and truly inform the consumer. check out our website at wistfulmistfarm. I also wanted to mention that the "What's in a name?" portion of the article neglected to mention that Strawberry Mountain Natural Beef cattle receive no Posted by umcvittie on 02/18/09 at 10:34AM I was very glad to see this topic featured in FOODday. Rich Mossback Farm LLC Yamhill. If you're interested in purchasing a better-tasting beef that's been raised locally on mother's milk.mossbackfarm. As a grassfed. and inevitably they're the ones who run out early and wish they would have bought more :). We have a great product but it's not always easy to find customers because we operate mostly via word-of-mouth. We sell beef by the quarter. I wrote a critique of this study a while back (www. grass. Posted by wistfulmist on 02/19/09 at 3:04PM Our small farm is another local business specializing in grass fed and grass-finished beef. Cheers.Course 1: Modern Beef Production We sell beef by the some of our customers with smaller families go in with Posted by mossbackfarm on 02/17/09 at 12:32PM Thanks for this article. OR www.

there is no need for any pharmaceuticals. Trampling is not understood by science writers that don't know how to manage it for good ecological effect. 16 . more pesticides. When were soybeans exempted from the use of fertilizers? In the best grassfed operations . more soil-killing chemical fertilizers." If you want carbon foot print. When the animal is a healthy. Grassfed is just bad for Big Ag . How can soy be put up as an alternative when it is GMO.they all now contain soy and pyrophosphate. Lack of herd effect is largely responsible for the desertification of much of the planet's vital grass lands. There are similar efforts across the country that deal with most goods produced on the land where a group gets together to market their own product rather than rely on the general markets. More GMO. please contact Leslie. on the right soils. and requires the soil to be plowed and plowed and plowed. Then make a tuna salad from any commercial brand .in canned tuna!!! Barb Lee Posted by woodtick6 on 02/20/09 at 8:24PM I have helped set up landowner cooperatives to assist with the sale of farm produce from a group of landowners. it is returned to the earth to feed the soil biota that feed the grass plants which unplowed. more herbicides.they want us eating more soybeans. In a healthy pasture. that if 6 million acres of corn .or shall we say soy .was responsible for building the vast fertile plains in the days of the bison herds. Crude protein is just a measure of nitrogen. Anti-livestock tactics are getting pretty brazen. ship iceberg lettuce in plastic baggies from Salinas to New York city.this is called "herd effect" and "mob grazing" in modern grassfeeding parlance .those that exist in the right climates.Course 1: Modern Beef Production Posted by blackbelly73 on 02/20/09 at 2:34PM The Science News article suggesting that all meat eating should be eliminated in favor of all soy was a really upsetting article. cycling of nutrients is done by the correct management of the animals and only a smattering of minerals should be called for to replace what the grass and animals take out. is only a toxic waste substance when it's mismanaged. I have sent her my contact information.the animal needs. Somebody doesn't necessarily want us eating less beef . but doesn't know how much of each amino acid .it has nothing to do with some horrific "carbon footprint.was returned to managed grazing. The government can prescribe how much "Crude Protein" is required in an animal's diet. we wouldn't have a CO2 problem anymore. for instance. whatever that is. If anyone is interested. releasing CO2 into the atmosphere and killing soil life? Agricultural practices such as growing soybeans are responsible for sapping the soil of minerals required to build complete nutrition for humans. Manure. Soil biota can completely "disappear" a cow pat in three days.which is what protein is . More than trees. sequester vast amounts of CO2. "Trampling" . as in factory farming. blasted with insecticides and herbicides. well managed grassfed animal. Grassfed flies in the face of all that. Soy . Enough it has been said. in a healthy pasture.

a.000 c. 800. Operators monitor the animals’ health and well-being d. Cattle are fed a scientifically formulated ration c. The one thing I want consumers to know about modern beef production is… 3. 75 head of cattle c. Large feedlots have environmental engineers 17 . _________ and _______ beef at an affordable price for consumers around the world. nutritious c. 40 head of cattle b. 100. I am proud to be a beef producer because… 2. Roughly how many beef producers are working in American today? a. 200. Lean. True False 4.000 d. Select the BEST answer: The modern beef production system provides a year-round supply of __________. grass-fed b. which of the following is NOT true? a. What is the typical size of a U.S. Providing consumers a variety of beef choices is important because… Modern Beef Production Quiz 1. Producing safe.000 3. 250 head of cattle 5. herd? a. Natural. A and C 2. Safe. True or false? Cattle and beef production represents the largest single segment of American agriculture. Each animal has 125-250 square feet b.Course 1: Modern Beef Production Sharing Your Story: What I want consumers to know… Please complete the following sentences in your own words. wholesome and nutritious beef is important to me and my family because… 4.000 b. Animals have access to water only twice a day when fed e. 20. organic. wholesome. With regard to feedlots. 100 head of cattle d. well-marbled d. 1. red.

Leaner b. True or false? Growth promotants and antibiotics pass through the animal’s system prior to harvest. but may be provided certain vitamin and mineral supplements b. Nutritional profile and value c. How the beef was raised 7. About the same c. Which of the following is NOT a USDA standard of certified organic beef? a. Which of the following beef choices is the safest and most nutritious? a. Organically raise cattle may not have grain in their diet 10. Organically raised cattle must be fed 100 percent organic feed. Natural/branded e. True False 18 .Course 1: Modern Beef Production 6. Grain-fed b. Certified organic d. Organically raised cattle may not be given antibiotics d. Grass-finished c. All of the above 9. Country of origin d. Safety of the product b. How does the fat content of beef differ from 10 years ago? a. Organically raised cattle may not be given hormones to promote growth c. How do beef choices differ from each other? a. Less lean 8.

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