My Little Big Rant

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

My name is Alli Fender and I want to tell you all about beef and cattle. Lately, the cattle Industry has been getting some punches in the face by the media, celebrities and politics and it’s quite infuriating to be honest. Let me explain why you need to know more about cows.

I am a fourth generation cattle producer and have been raised in a historical cattle ranch in San Diego County. Let’s get one thing straight, I’m a HUGE animal lover. I am a Registered Veterinary Technician and help puppies and kittens for a living. I believe in taking responsible care of animals of all shapes and sizes. I also believe in producing high quality beef in a sustainable manner. This topic truly hits home for me. My family works hard to raise quality beef for not only my own family financially, but to feed many other families.

Ranch work is not like you’re typical day job.. especially when it’s family. You’re on the clock 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Every day is different. We might have to pull a calf from a heifer in the snow and the calf may or may not make it. Bottle feed babies that are motherless, haul thousands of gallons of water to empty troughs due to little rain in triple digit heat, rotate pastures to ensure everyone is getting fed and the land is managed properly, fix fence, vaccinations, dewormings, health checks, vet bills.. the list goes on and on and it’s all for you, America. It’s just what we do, and we are proud of our work and love towards these animals.

I really don’t care what choices individuals make diet wise, but what I do care about is facts and how those facts are portrayed to the general public. I bet you a million metaphorical bucks that what I’m about to type up, you didn’t know.. or you will learn something, so please continue to read.

How many times have you heard the statement that cow burps and farts are a big contributor to our deteriorating environment? As well, by eating less red meat in general will help save our planet? Have you seen plant based diet tends sprouting up all over the food market? What about animal welfare? Sustainability? Pump the breaks. Let me fill you in on some other information that you’re missing.

First, cows are sustainable to the environment. How? “If you take care of the land, it will take care of you.” How do we take care of the land? Cows and livestock in general actually contribute when done correctly. Did you know that more than 2/3 of grass land is used for grazing in the US because it can’t be used for anything else? This specific chunk of land is too rocky, steep and unmanageable to build dwellings or grow crops on. What this land can do for us is make us quality protein. And no, not pea protein... BEEF. Humans are unable to digest grass, but when cattle eat it, they turn that grass into delicious meat and milk.

In addition to land management, most ranchers rotate their cattle between pastures year round to generate new and better grass growth and soil health for the following year. Also, when cattle produce manure it is pressed into the ground which helps with growing natural grass in the environment. Today, raising beef requires less water, land and energy and had a smaller environmental footprint because of the newer improvements ranchers and farmers are implementing into their programs. Also, did you know that over 97% of US beef comes from family owned ranchers and farms? Oh and guess what? It’s fire season here in California.. thank those cattle for helping out with fire prevention by keeping grasses at a safe height.

Is beef healthy to eat? Did you know that a 3oz serving of lean beef provides 25 grams of protein for fewer calories (154cal) than a plant based protein? That little steak has less that 10 grams of total fat. Half the fat is monosaturated fat which is the same healthy fat you would get from olive oil. That same 3oz piece of glory also provides 10% of your recommended Daily Value for 10 essential nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, zinc, and of course protein. To have a comparison for protein, you would need to eat 6 tablespoons of peanut butter (564cal) to get the same amount of protein provided by your little 3oz steak, which is a whopping 154cal.

Won’t you clog some arteries by eating too much red meat? New research has shown that eating lean beef daily can help IMPROVE heart health and cholesterol levels when also integrated with a healthy lifestyle and heart-healthy diet. As well, most of the beef you’re buying in the super market is considered natural, which bottom line means no additives and minimally processed. So eat your beef and drink your wine (in moderation of course) guilt free because, your heart, body and soul will be so thankful for it.

Animal health and safety. The general public probably doesn’t realize that ranchers and farmers are like momma and pappa bears when it comes to their livestock. They work hard every day like I mentioned before to ensure their animals are in a safe and secure. Not only do ranchers ensure there is clean water and food readily available, but they also implement safe and calm handling practices (at least most do). As well, the BQA (Beef Quality Assurance) program helps educate ranchers and the public about beef health and handling management. The guidelines specifically indicate that animal abuse will not be tolerated. So, to make it clear... cattle in the US live pretty extraordinary lives thanks to the dedication to these ranchers.

Corn, antibiotics, hormones, steroids...

Cattle graze most of their life on pasture. When they make it to a feed yard, they are fed a balanced diet (provided by a professional nutritionist guideline) and yes, has corn and other renewable feed. Corn is energy rich feed source for cattle. As well, cattle can eat the whole plant from kernel to stalk which allows for more sustainability. Cattle only eat about 30% of corn in the United States, and the rest is used mostly for biofuels and ethanol.

Antibiotics and other drugs are handled very carefully in the cattle world. Well, animal world in general really. Along with professional veterinary advice, drugs are given when a cow is sick or injured. Withdrawal times are implemented which means they are not processed until that time frame has surpassed. The use of antibiotics and other medications provide herd health overall, preventing certain diseases to spread and giving good quality of life to these animals.

Are you wearing shoes? Drive a car? Use makeup? Use medication? Well, thank Ms. Bessy for that. Do you realize how many day-to-day items you own in your house are by-products of cattle? The whole animal is utilized. Here’s a shortened list of products.. this gets people every time...

ready? Tires for vehicles, cosmetics, deodorant, soaps, candles, waxes, cleaning products, marshmallows, jellybeans, inks and dyes, perfume, crayons, dog food, glue, gelatin, insulation, shaving cream, shampoo and conditioner, lotions, antifreeze, biodiesel, biofuel, auto and jet lubricants, brake fluid, shoes, belts, sports equipment, purses, wallets, furniture upholstery.. not to mention hundreds of pharmaceuticals to enhance our quality of life as humans! Don’t tell me you don’t at least 5 of the products I listed above.

I’m going to step off my soap box (oh, thank you cows for my soap in my soap box) and let all that simmer. You might be thinking, “where does this girl get her resources?” Well, all of this has been brewing in my head for weeks after seeing the buzz on social media, news, and political debates. I’m a part of the San Diego County CowBelles and the California CattleWomen and I got alllllll these facts from our lesson tools and research by the California Beef Council, BQA, Beef Check Off, reputable cattle bloggers, College research papers, videos from veterinarians and of course personal experience.

My mission is to educate, advocate and allow the public to really think for themselves prior to being spoon fed ridiculous information regarding cattle that has no research to back it up. As well, I want to raise my kids in this wonderful industry and hopefully give them the tools to be advocates themselves.

So, next time you’re at the supermarket and come across the meat section. Remember, that cow was taken care of. That cow roamed pasture land, ate a great diet, was utilized in every way. That cow lived for me. That cow lived a great life for YOU. Respect that.

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