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A Passionate Voice

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Even at an early age, Cheryl Day was a passionate and practical advocate for agriculture. Check out her viewpoint on current agricultural topics.

Next to Perform: Meat Destroying the Environment?

Jul 20, 2011

Fire up the grill, showcase your most theatric skills, and tell the story about the healthy advantages of Certified Angus Beef. The most popular contest outside of the showring at the National Junior Angus Association is the All-American Certified Angus Beef Cook-Off.   Juniors from age 9 to 21 teamed up to compete for the bragging rights on the best recipe and best skit. After all if your skit requires you to dress up like a bear or Angus cow or some outrageous costume then you want to pull out the win –right?

Illinois had three teams competing in different age groups. The youngest Illinois group decked out in their finest bear attire and one funky Goldilocks revealed a house not serving beef. You know the original story of Goldilocks and the three bears but you never heard it told like this before.  In fact, baby bear claimed that Mama and Papa Bear were having martial issues because Mama was serving tofu.

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Photo Courtesy of Angus Topics

While this skit of Goldilocks and the Three Bears was in the spirit of the contest, real life drama is being fed to the general public about Meat and livestock production’s impact on the environment. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health complete with interactive website and life cycle graphics. EWG encourages people to participate in “Meatless Mondays” and claims giving up meat at least one day a week would help the individual’s health and the environment.
The EWG is putting on their best drama to place FEAR in the minds of the consumer, claiming that animal agriculture is solely destroying the consumer's health and the environment. I urge you to look past the smoke and mirrors and examine the facts.
EWG Claims: 
According to the “cradle-to-grave” life cycle assessment that the organization conducted with CleanMetrics (consulting firm hired by EWG), Beef ranks second as having the highest environmental footprint.
FACT: 
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the entire U.S. agricultural sector accounts for only 6.4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and livestock production as a whole only accounts for 2.8% of the agriculture sector.
After the release of the EWG’s Meat Eaters Guide, the USA Today interviewed Dr. Frank Mitloehner, Associate Professor and Air Quality Specialist at UC Davis. Mitloehner shines the truth behind the smoke and mirrors, saying that "scientific lifecycle assessments of meat production haven't been conducted." He goes on to say that according to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 3.4 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are the result of animal agriculture and "by changing the focus to eating habits, people think it doesn't matter whether they drive a Hummer or a Prius, it's whether they eat a burger or not."
In fact, a Washington State University study showed the beef industry has decreased its impact on the environment through modern technology and improvements in agriculture practices. From 1977 to 2007, beef producers have increased beef yield per animal by 28%.  Improving productivity reduces resource use and environmental impact per unit of animal protein.
EWG Claims: 
Eating Meat and Dairy Products are bad for your health.
“..eating less meat is important for improving your personal health…” – EWG
FACTS:
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines as well as leading health organizations a balanced diet including lean meat is essential in maintaining a healthy weight, building muscle, and fueling physical activity. One thing the EWG will not tell you that not all proteins are created equally. Unlike plant sources of protien, lean meat is the most readily available and easily absorbed sources of iron and zinc. 
A 3 ounce serving of lean beef provides all of the essential amino acids you need in less than 180 calories. To achieve the same levels with plant protein you would have to consume 2-3 times as many servings, which equals many more calories. For example, 1½ cups of beans has two times more calories than a 3-ounce serving of lean beef

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Photo Courtesy of Angus Topics

 

 

As Goldilocks explained to the Three Bears, a diet missing lean beef is unhealthy. The Key to healthy lifestyle is a balanced diet complete with proteins from animal products. 29 Cuts of Lean Beef is an excellent or good source of 10 essential nutrients – including zinc, iron, protein and many B-vitamins.  In fact, a 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides more than half the Daily Value recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in less than 180 calories package.
In reality, reducing your meat consumption will NOT have any impact on greenhouse gas emissions but could have serious consequences in the American Diets. So take the advice from this Illinois Cook-Off winning team and make beef a healthy part of your balanced diet. 

 

 
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