Tuesday, February 20, 2007

ADVANCES IN BEEF PRODUCTION: HUMAN AND ENVIRONENTAL HEALTH

Since I’ve covered some of the major objections to beef production ( hormones, feeding grain to cattle(see “ETHANOL AND CORN FOR FOOD ”), and antibiotic use) I’m ready to talk about the health and environmental benefits that consumers have derived from the scientific advances in beef production.

In 1990, there were only 9 cuts of beef that could be classified as ‘lean’ (< 10 grams of fat/serving). Now there are 29 cuts, including the tenderloin, sirloin, and 95% lean ground beef.
These cuts have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3-ounce serving. On average 20 of the 29 lean beef cuts have, only 1 more gram of saturated fat than a skinless chicken breast per 3-ounce serving.

I read this info from the National Cattlemans Beef Association web site, and thought to myself is this really true. All it took was one trip to Kroger’s meat section and some packaged beef/chicken comparisons and I was convinced. The media, past experience, and general consumer ignorance made me think that beef was an unhealthy product in general. I could not have been more wrong ( but I liked it anyway). In additon. beef is not only low fat, but also very nutrient-rich. Compared to a skinless chicken breast, beef has eight times more vitamin B12, six times more zinc and two and a half times more iron.
In addition, the advances in nutrition, management, and genetics has made beef more productive. Beef production per cow has increased from about 185 pounds since the mid-1960s to 585 pounds per cow in 2005. More food per pound of grain equates to a lesser impact on the environment.

1 comment:

agEconomist said...

Just after publishing this, a group came out with yet another study alleging that beef production was a major cause of global warming. Even if we were to concede this, by the time any credible mitigating policy could be implemented, advances in nutrition, genetics, and production technology would make their point moot.