eat today, you can thank farmers and ranchers. I thought about
that as we drove to the family owned and operated ranch of Joe
and Cyndi Van Newkirk in Oshkosh, Nebraska for their annual
Bull Sale. Each year, this family sells more than 200 of their
prized breeding animals to ranchers from across the United
States looking to produce top beef herds back home. Good
quality, after all, breeds good quality.
a first for me. So I kept my hands down as I watched the
fast-paced bidding and buying.
there’s a bull," auctioneer Joe Goggins of Billings,
Montana announced as a one ton 2 year-old lumbered into the
ring. "Look at that body!"
of highly selective breeding produce cattle with size and
muscle, I learned. Like other successful ranchers, the Van
Newkirks grow their cattle on well sustained pasture grass for
most of the year. Through the winter months, these big boys
get hay and other high energy feed cultivated on the
no business for sissies, I realized. Cattle breeders study
intricate details on their animals, from their weight at birth
(lower weights, easier deliveries) to how fast they grow (more
muscle, more lean meat) and measurements of their…parts
(better calf crops).
bull will let you make it to all the basketball games,"
the auctioneer assured bidders. Translation: He will produce
easy to deliver calves so the rancher won’t have to spend as
much time out in the pasture helping the process.
nutrition standpoint, highly muscled animals produce leaner
meat. In fact, according to the National Cattleman’s Beef
Association two-thirds of the beef sold in stores now meets
current standards for lean meat; that includes sirloin and 95
percent lean ground beef. When balanced with a healthful
dietary pattern of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, nuts
and low fat dairy foods, up to 4 to 5 ounces of lean meat a
day can support good health, according to the most recent
Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
now show clearly that it’s not any one food but our pattern
of eating — the types and amounts of what we eat over time
— that has the biggest impact on our long-term health. There’s
a big difference between a diet of high fat processed meats
devoid of vegetables and one that includes protein and
nutrient-rich lean meats along with healthy doses of
achieve a health sustaining diet in many ways, say experts,
and we do not have to completely eliminate any food group to
get there. In fact, studies from around the world show clear
evidence that healthful eating patterns can address our social
and cultural preferences as well as our medical needs. We all
have choices. And that’s no bull.