Opening up the Monday edition of my local newspaper, The Daily Republic, I was pleased to read Amy Kirk's opinion piece about beef safety and nutrition. The column was titled, "The Ultimate Meat Skeptics,"  and talks about how beef is safe, wholesome and great tasting. And, if you want to get the best experience out of every bite of steak, just ask a rancher!
Kirk, who is a local ranch wife and a regular contributor to the paper, writes, “To clarify whether or not beef is safe to eat, I would encourage people to dine with the world’s biggest meat critics: ranchers. Trust me, having lunch or dinner with a rancher will cure all skepticism. Cattlemen are the ultimate connoisseurs of beef. Besides potatoes and maybe bread, beef is pretty much all they eat and the last thing they want to do is jeopardize their dinner. Cattle producers know their product, and ranching families rarely experience food-borne illness from beef because they know how to properly prepare and cook it.
“My family has high expectations of meat. It should be beef. My husband wants his beef cooked to his specifications regardless of where he eats it. Beef is king in our home and for good reason -- it’s satiating, tasty, and provides necessary nutrients (zinc, iron and protein, among others) for energy -- which is very important around here -- but beef reigns over all other meats with most ranching families.
“If people need proof that American beef is safe to eat then they should read the label’s expiration date, ensure it’s been kept cold, wash their hands before handling, use different platters and utensils for cooked and uncooked meats, and cook the meat until it reaches the right internal temperature. Still, any skeptic’s best bet is to find out what a rancher orders when he goes out to lunch or dinner. Producers believe in beef because they’re the ones producing it. Regardless of what else is on the menu, 99% of ranchers will order steak or prime rib. The other percentage will order a hamburger.
“There is no stricter or more obsessive meat critic than cattlemen. Going out to dinner with them can be just as aggravating as cooking for them. Once they’ve eaten steak or prime rib at a restaurant that cooked it to their satisfaction and met their high expectations, they become loyal patrons. They’re not interested in trying out new restaurants if they’ve found a place that serves beef consistently cooked the way they like it. Any restaurant that a rancher patronizes regularly is getting the highest compliment and seal of approval it can receive. The best way to reassure those who question beef’s quality, healthiness and safety is to dine amongst ranchers.”
There's no better way to promote beef than sharing the ways you, as a rancher, enjoy it. That was the focus of one of my previous columns, "Beef Producers Must Promote To Consumers,"  which stressed the importance of sharing recipes, cooking tips and even grilling videos to inspire others to get out there and purchase beef. As December approaches and the holiday season gets into full swing, make the extra effort to promote your product. Beef, it's what's for dinner this Christmas!