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Monday, June 21, 2010

Racing for Team Beef

Happy first day of summer! Summer means lots of things – sun, pool, grilling and outside activities. I celebrated the first day of summer with the last two – a good burger and a bike ride. We talk a lot on this blog about food and the importance of a balanced diet. I think it’s important to remember that physical activity also needs to be part of the equation.

I love hearing about how people use beef to fuel an active lifestyle. NCBA’s Daren Williams maintains a great blog The Beefman Bloggeth - “A chronicle of the adventures of BEEFMAN and other ‘weekend warriors’ who fuel physical activity with lean, nutrient rich BEEF!”

Recently, Daren wrote a great post about how Kansas rancher Barb Downey ran in the Boston Marathon.

Now The Kansas Beef Council has announced the Kansas Beef Endurance Team made up of athletes from all over Kansas that believe in the nutritional benefits of lean beef and its vital role fueling their training. Athletes who are selected receive training on the nutritional value of beef, a team beef jersey and help paying for race entry fees. Click here for more information or to apply. Other states have introduced similar programs. Check the Beef Council Web site in your state to see if they’re participating in the race to recruit team beef runners!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Time for Grilling....Safely

Well, it's that time of the year again.  It's summertime and grilling and BBQ'ing are at their peak.  Backyard meals are a great time for everyone, whether youre grilling a flank steak for fajitas or preparing the perfect pork loin for a family reunion.  However, when you're armed with your fork in one hand don't forget to fill the other one with a meat thermometer.  Many people don't pay attention to meat temperatures - just because it looks done doesn't mean it is done.  Heck, it might even be TOO done and nobody likes tough, dry meat.  Did you know that even though you have taken it off the grill, meat temperatures still increase 5 degrees after removal?  To avoid improperly cooking your meat, refer to the following guidelines:

Ground Meats: Pork, Beef and Lamb:  160 °F
                       Chicken and Turkey: 165 °F

Steak and Lamb: Medium-Rare 145 °F
                           Medium 155 °F
                           Medium-Well 165 °F
                           Well Done 170 °F

Poultry:  Chicken & Turkey, Whole 180 °F
              Breast Meat 170 °F
              Thighs, Wings & Legs 180 °F
              Duck & Goose 180 °F
**Salmonella is killed at 165 °F

Pork: Medium-Rare 150 °F
         Medium 160 °F
         Well Done 170 °F
**Many people worry about trichinosis and tend to overcook pork. However, trich is killed at 140 °F.

To get some great recipe ideas for your next grilling experience,visit these sites for pork, lamb, beef and chicken recipes.  Hopefully, these tips will ramp up the safety, and flavor, at your next backyard gathering.  Enjoy!

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ninety Five

Corn Farmers Coalition has released a new ad. It's aim? To put a face on farmers. 

Most American farms are owned by families. More specifically, 95% of corn farms are family owned. The mission to spotlight these family farms comes at a time when it is important for consumers to understand that corporate farming is more of a myth than a reality. 

“They aren’t some myth, but are a critical economic engine that provides most of the food, feed and fiber produced in this country,” said Darrin Ihnen, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “This awareness is important to our survival."

Sometimes I wonder where the idea of corporate farming and big agriculture first began. Many farms that I know of are actually "incorporated" for the tax advantages only. Behind that label, is a hard working family of dedicated agriculturists. 

Family farmers deserve a face that is honest, realistic and shows the world exactly where food is being produced. A friend of mine did an excellent job of literally painting faces for farmers in this recent post. Just look at her photos and you can see the years of diversity, generations of pride, and hours of hard work it takes to keep the family farm up and running. 

Ninety five. I'm proud to be a part of that percentage of American Farmers!

Tera Rooney

Monday, June 14, 2010

Foodie Feature: The Barfblog

You may have noticed that some of my posts have directed you other places for information. It's my opinion that when someone already puts it out there - why re-write it? That's the purpose of beginning a series of posts entitled, Foodie Feature.

These posts will feature blogs, sites, people, etc. that do a wonderful job of teaching the concepts that Food For Thought aims to relay to consumers from this blog. Strap on a seat belt because this could go anywhere! Enter drum roll, and probably an awfully timed crash of a cymbal and...

The first Foodie Feature is of the Barfblog. This blog comes to you by the works of Dr. Douglas Powell. He is an Associate Professor of Food Safety at Kansas State University where the blog is a guiding principle of the work done for the International Food Safety Network (iFSN) at Kansas State. There is an abundance of information on this site and I encourage you to click through the many categories of food safety posts. Anywhere from animal welfare to E. Coli. From how to thaw a turkey to how many seconds to scrub your hands. 

Food safety is at the core of production agriculture in the United States. We are home to the safest, most reliable food system in the world. It is truly because of work done at institutions like the iFSN, and I hope you enjoy and take knowledge away from the work they are putting out!

For more information on the work being done at the iFSN, please visit their website. 

As their montra goes...Don't eat poop!

 - Tera Rooney

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Celebrate: June is Dairy Month!

Since June is Dairy Month I thought it might be good to get a post up about milk and milk products. I'm no dairy farmer, but these people know a bit about the industry:

Since 99% of American households purchase milk and the average American consumes 25 gallons per year, today might be a good day to sit down and learn more about the farmers and ranchers who produce all of that creamy deliciousness:

And if you just need a laugh, turn down your Pandora and get ready to laugh at this funny advertisement put out by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario:

Drink some milk!

 - Tera Rooney

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Lesson in Resource Utilization

Anti-livestock production groups often claim that vegetarian diets are more efficient from a resource stand point. This argument has a two pronged approach. The first point is that the grain used to fatten livestock could be fed to people directly more efficiently. The other argument states that livestock, particularly cattle, graze on land that could be devoted to crop production which would also prove more efficient.

It is true that it takes more pounds of grain to create a pound of meat. However, simply evaluating efficiency on a pounds of food available basis is irrational. A more suitable approach is to evaluate food sources from a nutritional standpoint. Calorie for calorie, beef is one of the most efficient sources of nutrients available. Beef provides excellent zinc, iron, protein, and B vitamins. (Think of the total cereal commercials...I'd have to eat how many servings of corn to get the same amount of protein in one serving of beef??) Check out this site for more details. Furthermore, it is a common misconception that modern day cattle producers feed grain to cattle almost exclusively except for a few small scale grass-fed producers. In fact most cattle spend only 4 to 6 months of their life on a grain-based diet. The balance of their lives are spent grazing on grass.

The argument that livestock grazing takes valuable farmland out of crop production also needs some clarification. According to, 85 percent of the land used for livestock grazing is unsuitable for crop production. Which means it might look a little like this:

As the world's population continues to grow, agriculturalists will need to utilize all of their resources effectively to meet the growing demand for food. Livestock production is well suited to play a large role in this mission. Livestock grazing enables us to take an otherwise inedible food source (grass) and turn it into a nutritionally superior food source.

Nutritious, delicious and efficient!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tailgate Lectures: This is the Life

I can remember sitting in my grandpa’s office, helping him gather receipts from the fiscal year. I was told to find the receipts from all things related to feeding the cows, gather them together, staple and file. Easy enough. We worked in silence for a long time with an intermittent piece of advice from the old man about organizing your finances so that you can avoid getting audited. He paused when we had gotten through one stack of papers. He said, “Tera, I’ve got a great family, successful farm and beautiful cows. Grew up on a farm and this is the life.”

This is the life.

The idea of growing up on a farm isn’t something everyone can relate to. This is a pretty obvious concept as the cityscapes spill out onto new land making a wider swath of urbanized culture through America’s heartland. Suburban subdivisions that were once surrounded by corn fields become surrounded by more subdivisions and we’ve created an even bigger division from rural America. Don’t get me wrong, urbanization isn’t all bad. With urbanization comes stronger economies, more jobs, higher land prices, diversification of farming practices, easier production methods and the list goes on. Part of our mission with Food for Thought is to keep the idea of farm to fork alive. We want consumers to have a source, close to agriculture; to gain knowledge about where food comes from. So that people who are removed from agriculture can still come back to the farm, per say.

There are other initiatives that are literally bringing people back to the farm! I have to commend several municipal systems for setting up farm zoos so that families and children raised in the city can have the opportunity to see a cow being milked, pet a goat and play with baby chicks. It is things like this that help children better understand where it is that there food comes from. Make it a point to visit a farm zoo near you, I have found several in near and far places:

Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, Overland Park, KS

  •  I have personally visited this farm zoo and it has an abundance of opportunities for children to learn more about agriculture on a farm. You can milk a cow, plant corn seeds, feed goats and during the Fall make apple cider! It’s a wonderful initiative by the City of Overland Park. Admission is $2 to boot!


Queens Farm Zoo, New York City, NY

  • Within the Queens Zoo lies a portion where agricultural animals thrive. Information about cattle, chickens, goats and more. Part of a funding project from the Heckscher fund, a great addition to this park.

Kentish Town City Farm, London

  • Free entrance to this educational and recreational project set up to simulate a town that is based in agriculture. Along with farm animals, stables and gardens there is the correlation of what agriculture can bring to a small town.   


What a way to experience agriculture with your children! Now you can get the idea of what my grandfather was talking about when dubbed growing up on a farm with family as, “This is the life.”

 - Tera Rooney


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