Tag Archives: nutrition

An Aggie, Aussies, and Sampling…

Howdy!

We’ve been busy at the yard the past week. All of this rain we’ve been having has made for some muddy conditions! Everyone is working as hard as they can to clean out pens before we receive new cattle this upcoming week.

In addition, we had a tour group of Australians join us Friday afternoon to learn more about the feedlot industry in the United States. They were especially baffled by how close we are to ground water here in Cozad, being that the feedyard is right over the Ogallala Aquifer makes it just a short distance, about 10’, to ground water as opposed to their 500’ deep wells in Australia. Overall I think they really enjoyed their experience at Will Feed, and we certainly enjoyed their company!

Alltech

Another very important task we accomplished this week was sampling feed stuffs for monthly nutritional analysis. Being that I am studying ruminant nutrition, it only seems fitting to share a bit about this critical aspect of the feedyard.

RationEVWe feed all of the cattle rations that are formulated with the help of the nutritionist. A ration can be thought of as a casserole. There are a variety of ingredients that all serve a different nutritional purpose whether it’s cracked corn for energy or roughage for fiber content, the ratio of ingredients within the “casseroles” are carefully calculated to meet the specific needs of the cattle at certain stages of growth.

If we do not know the right nutritional contents of our ingredients, our rations will be off and the cattle may not be able to reach their full potential and it could even cause health problems such as bloating. By sampling each individual ingredient, we can check the composition and ensure we are keeping the cattle happy and healthy with properly formulated rations.

All of the ingredients for a ration are loaded into the feed truck and the back of the truck acts like a giant mixing bowl. There is a combination of paddles and augers that mix the ration after all ingredients have been added. In theory this should create a perfectly homogeneous mixture.

To ensure this is the case, we also must sample the rations once they are mixed and delivered to the bunk. This ensures the feed truck is working properly, thoroughly combining all of the ingredients, and there is consistency amongst what is being fed.

DeliveringFeedEV
One load of feed in the truck may be dispersed throughout multiple pens, it is key that what is delivered to the first bunk is the exact same as what is delivered to the last. Therefore, we collect samples along the bunk line from the first and last bunk the load was delivered to.

RationSamplingEVOnce all the samples are collected, both individual ingredients and mixed rations, they are brought to Ward Laboratories in Kearney, NE for testing. The feed results are reported back a few days later and analyzed by the nutritionist, that way rations/mixing procedures can be adjusted accordingly if necessary.

The nutritionist especially uses the calcium content as an indicator of how well the ration was mixed. It is important the mix is homogenous for a variety of reasons but especially so the supplement pellet is distributed to all of the cattle at the right amount being that it includes a variety of ingredients vital to food safety.

When we dropped off the samples, Dr. Ward was nice enough to show us around the lab. They do a variety of testing there including, soil, water, and feedstuffs.

Did you know people will send in homemade craft beers to be tested for mineral content to best be able to match/adjust their unique flavor profiles?

It was definitely a week full of learning experiences! I look forward to my last few days here in Cozad. We have a busy schedule ahead with lots of incoming cattle to receive, process, and acclimate!

-Emily

Corn

3 Comments

Filed under Nutrition (cattle and human)

Policy Does Not Equal Science…

In the late 1970’s the low fat diet traveled to the halls of Congress in Washington DC. The Senate Select Committee on Nutrition, led by Senator George McGovern, held two days of hearings entitled “Diet Related to Killer Diseases”. After the hearings, committee staff member Nick Mottern orchestrated the political crusade for the (low fat) diet-heart hypothesis despite the fact that he had no background in nutrition or health. His personal negative bias toward red meat further tainted the narrative and his report, called Dietary Goals, secured the U.S. Government’s support with Congressional adoption in 1977. At this point, the diet-heart hypothesis became politically protected as truth despite the fact that virtually no clinical trial scientific proof existed.

“The United States had embarked upon a giant nutritional experiment to cut out meat, dairy and dietary fat altogether, shifting calorie-consumption over to grains, fruits and vegetables. Saturated animal fats would be replaced by polyunsaturated vegetable oils. It was a new, untested diet – just an idea, presented to Americans as the truth. Many years later, science started to show that this diet was not very healthy at all, but it was too late by then, since it had been national policy for decades already.”(Teicholz-102)

In February of 1980, the Dietary Goals transitioned into the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans eventually providing the basis for the USDA Food Pyramid, and the subsequent “My Plate” dietary teachings known to every school aged child in the country. Revisited every five years, the dietary guidelines provide a one size fits all approach, equating the nutritional needs of every American over the age of 2.

It is ludicrous to suggest that her dietary needs equal that of a middle aged man…A nutrient rich diet that includes beef leads her both to victory and good health. 800M Champion last weekend in her first high school track meet!

While USDA reports that these guidelines over the past 30 years were not well followed, they most certainly shifted the culture of the American diet. In response to their advice,  Americans moved away from red meat, eggs, and dairy and towards carbohydrates and vegetable oils. Many replaced nutrient dense protein with sugar and polyunsaturated oils – a combination which arguably played a role in causing obesity and other metabolic diseases like diabetes to explode across the population. The dietary guidelines became officially destined for political battle when they became law in 1995.

According to Adele Hite MPH, RD, MAT of the Healthy Nation Coalition, the policy changes associated with the dietary guidelines altered the food environment in our country by affecting:

  • What’s available for purchase on grocery store shelves.
  • What’s available for purchase through the WIC and other government programs.
  • What’s being fed to our military members on active duty.
  • What’s being fed to our kids through school lunch programs.
  • What’s being taught in school to our kids in Nutrition and Health classes.
  • Narrowing the focus for future nutritional studies and limited scientific debate on the topic.

In addition to equating the dietary needs of a two year old child with a fifty year old man, this government sponsored nutrition dogma portrays unproved science as the truth.

The proposed 2015 Dietary Guidelines limit animal protein even more than the previous guidelines, despite the fact that the 2010 report states that the food patterns recommended in the Dietary Guidelines “have not been specifically tested for health benefits”. The continued increase in the growing percentage of obese and metabolically challenged Americans should cause our leaders in Washington DC to take pause and reexamine their advice — but the high carbohydrate narrative lives on.

It is time for the American people to let their voices be heard. The comment period for the proposed 2015 Dietary Guidelines is open until May 8, 2015. I will be sharing my comment letter next week both on this website and also with the USDA/HHS. You can share your thoughts by going to the government website. If you would like to view other sample comments you can go to either the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Website or be a signer on the letter written by the Healthy Nation Coalition.

Together we can reinforce the notion that policy does not equal science and take back our right to chose healthy foods for our families.

4 Comments

Filed under Nutrition (cattle and human)

Perhaps It’s Time To Stop Apologizing For Fat…

How often do you eat a steak, an omelet, or cook with real butter? What kind of milk is in your refrigerator?

annemattbeef1

While animal protein arguably tastes good and makes us feel satiated, the nutrition community has steadfastly steered Americans away from eating red meat and whole fat dairy for the past four decades. The diet-heart hypothesis (coined by a biologist named Ancel Keys in the early 1960’s) proclaimed that a low fat and high carbohydrate diet provided the basis for good health. Although not proved through clinical trials, the hypothesis gained support from the federal government and provided the basis for mainstream dietary advice during the ensuing decades.

In my lifetime, the culture of the American diet has shifted dramatically. According to USDA, the consumption of grains (41%), vegetables (23%) and fruits (13%) rose significantly from 1970-2005 while red meat (-22%), milk (-33%) and eggs (-17%) fell dramatically. Overall carbohydrate intake for Americans rose with low fat starches, and vegetable oil took the place of animal protein and fat in the diet. Animal protein lovers shifted from beef to chicken, and many traded whole fat dairy for skim milk and margarine thereby forsaking nutrition density for lower saturated fat options.

All of this occurred during a time in the United States when obesity rates more than doubled (15-32%), the prevalence of heart failure, cancer and stroke all increased, and the rate of diabetes increased from less than 1% to 11%.

An association hypothesis (mirroring the process used by Ancel Keys to develop the diet-heart low fat mindset) might suggest from these two sets of data that replacing animal protein with vegetable oil and carbohydrates actually reduced the quality of health of Americans – the direct opposite from the intended consequence of Keys’ hypothesis. Uncovering this discrepancy inspired Nina Teicholz, an investigative food reporter, to delve deep into the nutrition archives. After nine years of research covering thousands of studies and a wide array of interviews with nutrition scientists, Teicholz uncovered a laundry list of interesting findings in her New York Times Bestseller The Big Fat Surprise.

  • The current U.S Dietary Guidelines are based on Keys’ hypothesis and drawn from epidemiological studies primarily done on middle-aged men. Clinical trials have not confirmed the epidemiological data, and virtually no data exits supporting this hypothesis for women and children.
  • The causal associations seen between red meat consumption and heart disease are minimal.
  • The saturated fat found in animal protein increases HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) which appears to play a positive role in heart health. Additionally, fat plays an important role in providing energy as well as ensuring that a number of essential vitamins be fully absorbed by the body.
  • Total cholesterol is not a good predictor of heart disease for most people. In particular, LDL (bad) cholesterol does not consistently predict an increased risk of heart disease. The cholesterol argument is the primary basis for the advice to reduce red meat consumption.
  • No health studies exist to discern the effect on health of liquid vegetable oils; and studies have shown that the process of solidifying vegetable oils (to make butter imitations) creates trans-fat which are incredibly unhealthy. Vegetable oil use is up 8% since the diet-heart hypothesis began to drive dietary advice.
  • Carbohydrates are a primary cause of insulin secretion – the constant consumption of carbohydrates throughout the day creates elevated insulin levels in the bloodstream which renders the body unable to digest its fat stores. This leads to metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes. Eating fat and protein do not cause insulin secretion during digestion.  High fat, low carbohydrate diets like the Atkins diet are more effective for achieving lasting weight loss.
  • Multiple clinical trials demonstrate that a diet which trades carbohydrates for protein and fat can be healthy suggesting that a shift in thought process and nutrition study focus is prudent.

TheBigFatSurprise

I encourage each of you to read Teicholz’s book. It is an eye opening experience that inspires the reader to guiltlessly enjoy a steak while thinking that perhaps it’s time to stop apologizing for fat…

17 Comments

Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)

Raising Teenage Girls Amidst a Sea Of Dietary Confusion…

Apart from my favorite farmer, my three girls are my greatest blessing. In less than two weeks, 2/3’s of them will be teenagers. Our house is a bevy of activity permeated by moments of drama, and decorated by athletic bras hanging to dry on nearly every doorknob.

While raising teenagers is unarguably an adventure, I believe that the journey of raising healthy and confident girls resembles a never ending Iron Man competition. Nagging concerns of being thin, pretty, and accepted butt up against dreams of athletic and intellectual prowess. An internal struggle capped off by an innate drive toward individualism that may conflict with mainstream culture as well as push the dogma perpetuated by parents and mentors.

AGXC.jpg

The life journey of a teenage girl proves that the road to excellence is never comfortable…

While many of these daily struggles simply come together to create the iconic journey toward maturity, some have become exacerbated by the complex dual between science and politics that make up the history of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. I was two years old in 1977 when the science of nutrition became diluted with the burden of politics. Fortunately my parents shielded me from the ramifications of the new age of political nutrition rhetoric, choosing to instead pass along to me a traditional culture of family meals and a balanced diet.

I grew up in a house where dinner was always a home cooked meal. Meat was the center of the plate accompanied by a vegetable, some sort of starch, and a glass of milk. While my mom was not a fancy cook, her meals were delicious and she taught me how to put diversified nutrients on the table. I learned to equate the basics of home cooking with healthiness, primarily due to my mom’s steadfast commitment to a pragmatic diet approach.

3girlsbale1.jpg

I do not have childhood memories of other influences (outside of my family) on the topic of nutrition. I cannot say that same thing about my daughters. The web of political influence over nutrition has grown to where it touches their lives daily through school lunches and nutrition education in the classroom.

  • I serve my girls eggs, meat, and whole milk as a part of a balanced diet at home while they are told in school curriculum that these are unhealthy even when blended with fruits and vegetables on the home cooked dinner plate.
  • I preach about the importance of protein and fat as sources of energy and nutrients in the diet while the government mandated curriculum teaches them that eating healthy means a plant based high carbohydrate and low fat diet.

Megvolleyball.jpg

The result is a conflicted and confused teenager trying to survive amidst a sea of dietary confusion.

The next few blog posts will take a look at both the science and the politics of nutrition. I will examine Nina Teicholz’s New York Times Bestseller The Big FAT Surprise, as well as the current nutrition debate that struggles to surface amidst a 30 year culture of food politics determined to create a one size fits all answer to the diet and health of Americans.

6 Comments

Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)

The Gift…

Animals play important roles in most of our lives. I have never lived in a house without a pet; and we currently have a dog and three cats enjoying the comfort of our home. When I moved to the farm in 1997, I learned about a new type of animal: a food animal. This animal exists for the sole purpose of providing food and other resources for all of us. It serves a very different purpose than a pet.

ALTippy1

As much as my pets enrich my life, at the end of the day, I believe that the gift that my bovine food animals give to me is more precious. When my cattle leave the feed yard, they travel to a packing plant in order to give the gift of nutrition. Their gift nourishes my family as well as yours.

  • I believe that my cattle play a critical role in providing needed nourishment.
  • I believe that it is ethical to kill animals for the benefit of humans.
  • I believe that it is possible to end a food animal’s life humanely.

Dr. Temple Grandin has revolutionized cattle handling and humane care at the level of the packing plant over the past twenty years. From changes in equipment – to employee training – to auditing – to camera placement to further verify compliance, Dr. Grandin’s work plays a critical role in bovine care at the time of slaughter.

CAB Anne feedyard

The quality of my bovines’ end of life experience is important to me. As a result, I make it a priority to take periodic trips to the packing plant. I have witnessed every aspect of the slaughter process, and I believe that my packing plant partner does an excellent job of remaining committed to a painless and humane death experience for my cattle.

I cannot imagine my life without cattle and the resources that they provide. I consider myself blessed that I can spend my days caring for animals that give the gift of nutrition. 

AGXC.jpgBeef’s Big Ten pack a powerful health punch:

  • Zinc: helps maintain a healthy immune system
  • Iron: helps the body use oxygen
  • Protein: preserves and builds muscles
  • Vitamins B6 and B 12: help maintain brain function
  • Phosphorus: helps builds bones and teeth
  • Niacin: supports energy production and metabolism
  • Riboflavin: helps convert food into fuel
  • Choline: supports nervous system development
  • Selenium: helps protect cells from damage

Each time that I load my cattle on the truck to ship to the packing plant, I am thankful for their gift. I respect that gift as I appreciate the beef meals that I feed to my family as well as the other beef products that come from cattle.

I recognize the sacrifice that my animals make to improve the quality of my own life, and I honor them by offering quality care while they are on my farm.

 

 

 

12 Comments

Filed under Animal Welfare, General

Fueled By Beef!

Thoughtful Thursday…

AGBTrack.jpg

I fuel her muscles with beef, and she fuels them with determination…It’s a winning partnership!

Do you fuel your family with the ZIP of beef?

1 Comment

Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

Meatful Mondays…

This fall, my favorite 7th grader developed a tendency to role her eyes at me during family discussions.  I adopted a new policy at the Feed Yard Foodie house to counteract this unacceptable habit—every eye roll is equal to 10 push-ups.

She’s gotten pretty good at them…

This new rule has led to two developments: 1. There are fewer eye roll movements at our dinner table, and 2. My oldest daughter is developing “pipes” for bicep muscles that rival what mine looked like during my competitive swimming days…

This new protocol has been incredibly effective, and I view it as one of my more successful parenting initiatives.  My daughter is refocusing on showing respect for adults while also improving her physical strength.  It’s a win-win deal.  She is a smart kid, and over the past few months she has learned to catch herself right before the “eye roll” starts, simply replacing it with a smile instead.  The result is a much better dinner experience for the family!

The power of a beautiful smile and her Mama’s homemade meat loaf with home grown hamburger and tomatoes!

Every time that I read about the “Meatless Monday” campaign, I experience the same reaction as when my daughter rolls her eyes at me.  Very simply, I get angry.  The campaign (as seen again yesterday by the Los Angeles city council’s announcement) is frequently aligned with rhetoric about improving your health.  In this instance, Councilwoman Jan Perry is quoted as saying that the resolution is part of an overall “good food” agenda for the city which will result in better health amongst the community of Los Angeles.  I disagree with Councilwoman Perry—I believe that beef plays a key role in good health.

Beef’s Competitive Advantage #2

Beef is a natural food that is a great source of 10 essential nutrients including zinc, iron and protein.  There are 29 cuts of beef that meet the government standards for lean—some of my favorites include lean ground beef, tenderloin and T-bone steaks.  All of these 29 cuts of beef have 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3 ounce serving.  The protein found in beef helps to maintain healthy body weight, build muscle (just look at my daughter’s biceps!), and plays an important role in a healthful lifestyle and disease prevention.

Here’s to strength and good health!

Is it possible to process or cook beef in a way to make it less healthy?  Absolutely…But, there are also a great variety of tasty ways to include healthy lean beef in your diet.  Ways that allow you to focus on good health while enjoying beef’s signature great taste.

Councilwoman Perry, it is not about the beef, it is about the way that it is prepared and what is served to compliment it! 

I believe that a healthy diet needs to include a diverse selection of food.  I feed my family beef almost every single day because I believe that it is a critical part of maintaining our good health.  I pair beef with fruits, vegetables and whole grains to provide a healthy blend of nutrients.  Between cross country, volleyball, basketball, soccer, gymnastics and swimming– my girls need fuel to get through the day.  Of course, we can’t forget the nightly push-ups either!

The west was won on a diverse diet of meat, grains and vegetables…Her cross country races were won that way as well.

The Feed Yard Foodie house proudly participates in Meatful Mondays

Have you served your family one of the 29 cuts of lean beef recently?  Check out http://beefitswhatsfordinner.com for more ideas of how to fuel your family with great tasting lean beef.

14 Comments

Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)

Redefining Breakfast…

Our house has always been a “cereal and fruit” breakfast place.  Most of that stems from the fact that I go to work before 6:00am every morning so my girls have learned to fend for themselves.  Cereal and fruit require little cooking and are fast and easy to fix…

My cattle eat breakfast at the same time that my children do, so Daddy is in charge of breakfast at our house…

There are times on the weekends when one of my older girls will make home-made pancakes (my grandfather has a secret recipe that is awesome!), or they will con their daddy into making home-made crepes with strawberries.  But, up until this week, cereal and fruit have provided the mainstay on school mornings.

As you all know, my girls went back to school last week.  You may or may not be aware that school lunch requirements as dictated by the USDA have changed significantly this school year.  These changes were precipitated by Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” program designed to reduce childhood obesity.

She’s long and lean and needs to be properly “fueled”…

While I am a huge fan of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and fully support seeing more of a priority placed on these food items in the lunchroom; I am truly at a loss at the calorie and protein limits that are also included in the new school lunch plan.  As a seventh grader, my favorite Junior High Cross Country runner will only receive between 9-10 ounces of meat per week and 600-700 calories per day if she chooses to eat school lunch…

For someone who leaves home at 7:45am, goes to school all day, and then has Cross Country practice until 5:30 at night, the new school lunch leaves her body nutritionally unprepared for the demands that are being made on it.  As a young athlete who is still growing and developing, she needs some ZIP (Zinc, Iron, Protein) to get her through the day.  A 2 ounce hamburger is just plain not enough…

Neither are Cross Country races…

Matt and I spent the weekend discussing what we could do to solve this problem.  This week, we are “redefining breakfast” at the Feed Yard Foodie house.  Matt is taking up residence as a short order breakfast cook.  The cereal and fruit that used to be on the menu are now being replaced with needed protein and a hot meal to help my girls get through the day.

Hot oatmeal, bacon, eggs, pancakes, and breakfast burritos with eggs and hamburger will likely all appear on the menu as we venture through the week…

Only time will tell what Chef Matt will come up with–I am simply thankful that he is such a devoted daddy 🙂

While I am confident that Matt and I can come up with a compromise at our house to make sure that our girls get enough to eat, I am frustrated that this is an issue.  I worry that other children whose parents do not have the time, money or motivation to get up and cook for them will suffer.

We live in a small community where many of the Junior High and High School students do a sport after school.  Universal participation is necessary so that our school can have sports teams.  These young athletes need a good lunch that will carry them through the afternoon and its physical challenges.

Our school lunch program needs to FUEL THEM so that they can MOVE!

Does anyone have breakfast menu suggestions for Chef Matt to help him fuel our girls for the day?

42 Comments

Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)