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The True Unsung Heroes

ambassadors-pa.jpgWhen I was 13 years old, I wrote a speech titled, "America's Beef Cattle: The True Unsung Heroes." Based off the old brochures, "When is a Cow More Than a Cow?" and "Wow, That Cow!" my speech discussed the benefits of cattle in our everyday lives. When I presented that speech in 4-H that year, I had no idea how far it would take me. Over the years, the speech grew and matured as I did, and when it was time to compete in the district FFA Public Speaking contest and the South Dakota Beef Ambassador contest, I knew that I wanted to take this speech me to the national level. Looking back now, I have realized that this five-minute speech was a stepping stone to the big world of food production that I was ready to explore. As I prepare to graduate in a few weeks, I'm a bit sentimental about my childhood years, and this speech was a big part of those years. First, I hope that my personal stories spark old memories and remind you of your passions in food production. Second, this speech has some great talking points to use in casual conversations with others. Here is a little piece of an old memory to help you advocate for the agriculture industry...

Today we are going to pay tribute to our nation's unsung heroes. Everyday we fail to realize that there are heroes right under our noses. For example: There are policemen, war veterans, ranchers, teachers, friends, and even our families who are always there for us. Yet they don’t always get their glory. Another group that I am going to point out to you is also commonly taken for granted and is never called a hero. I am talking about America’s beef cattle, the true unsung heroes! I know it may sound a little far fetched to say a cow is a hero, but beef cattle really are heroes as they enrich our lives and enhance the planet.

NUTRITIONISTS: Everyone already knows that cattle provide us with tasty and delicious beef. But do you also know that in a way cattle are heroes because they are nutritionists? Beef provides us with many nutrients such as protein, iron, vitamin B, zinc, niacin, and riboflavin. These nutrients help maintain and repair body tissues, renew red blood cells, strengthen the immune system, fight obesity, and give us healthy skin. Did you know that beef’s leanest cuts provide 6 times as much zinc and vitamin B12 and two and a half times more iron than a skinless chicken breast?

MECHANICS: Cattle show their heroism in the car shop, too. They are top-notch mechanics! Cattle provide us with airplane lubricants, hydraulic brake fluid, antifreeze, stearic acid for our tires, and even asphalt for our roadways. They also help to maintain a car’s sleek and shiny look as by-products are in car polish, wax and even upholstery.

DOCTORS: In an emergency, cattle play the role of pharmacists and doctors. Cattle provide us with blood factors to treat hemophilia, to kill viruses, and to make anti-rejection drugs. Collagen used in plastic surgery, insulin for diabetics, pancreatin to aid in digestion, and bone marrow for blood disorders also come from cattle by-products!

ENVIRONMENTALISTS: Cattle celebrate Earth Day everyday, in their roles as environmentalists. Cattle graze on land that is too steep, hilly, or rocky for modernizing or farming. This may not seem like it has a big impact on anything, but did you know that 1.2 billion acres in the United States can only be used for cattle grazing? At least 90 percent is covered with grass that is indigestible by humans. However, cattle can digest this grass by converting it into beef and dairy products. Put it into perspective this way, without cattle grazing, over half of our country would go to waste.

And, the speech continues to explain the role of cattle in our lives as pioneers, firefighters, recyclers. In spite of the cutesy rhetoric of this childhood speech, I hope my trip down memory lane is filled with plenty of Quick BEEF Daily Facts to launch your next conversation. Today, let’s give credit where credit is due and remember our American beef cattle – The True Unsung Heroes!