The Kansas City Star recently published an article called, “Beef’s Raw Edges,” which criticizes the cattle industry for everything from antibiotic overuse to increased E. coli risks. While this article is just one of many that portray cattle ranchers as villains, I would urge consumers to find their information elsewhere.
Aside from the sensational way articles like the Kansas City Star example are written, they don’t dig deep enough or work to actually provide the facts about where our food comes from. Instead, they use consumer fear and hysteria to create a buzz and sell papers.
I would encourage folks to check out ExploreBeef.org or FactsAboutBeef.com to learn more about how beef gets from pasture to plate.
Another great resource is WhereFoodComesFrom.com, a great website dedicated to sharing the food-production story with consumers, while answering common questions and concerns.
One article you’ll find there is titled, “Everything A Kid (And Mom) Should Know About Beef Cattle.” It starts with a quick quiz and then gives fun facts about the beef industry. For example, did you know India has the largest cattle inventory in the world, followed by Brazil and China? Did you know that the U.S. is the largest importer of beef, followed by Russia and Japan? Did you know there are over 800 breeds of cattle? Or that the U.S. is the largest consumer of beef (by volume) in the world?
These fun facts and more could be educational tools to use when going to classrooms and talking about beef. The quiz would make a great activity for the students, followed by reading an agriculturally-accurate book and talking about what life is like on a ranch for you.
Creating a well-rounded classroom talk has been on my mind lately because the South Dakota Ag In The Classroom project has selected my children’s book, “Levi’s Lost Calf,” as its book to use in schools this year; I think the information found on the resources listed above would be the perfect complement to the story.
Forget scare tactics and negative media articles, the beef industry has a positive story to tell, and it’s time we get out and do just that. Do you carve out some time to visit schools? If so, what are some of your best tips and tricks for leaving a good impression?