Recent reporting from Reuters (find the complete article HERE) finds that Americans’ passion for burgers and beef isn’t dwinding – good news for us cattle ranchers – but is shifting from the frozen patties of a Big Mac to the fresh, greasy, finger-lickin beef of a Five Guys cheeseburger (I can almost taste the goodness!) Many, especially millennials, believe that they are eating a healthy version of beef but truth be told, beef is beef is beef, no matter how you slice it.
Let me take a moment to explain how this all works:
- We raise cattle on our farm – starting from birth. When the steers (male cattle) or cows (female cattle) reach about 900 pounds, they are moved from pasture to the feedlot where they stay for about 100 days and dine on a diet of high-end grains.
- Representatives from beef packers (Cargill, Tyson, etc) visit the feedlot, personally inspect the cattle and purchase the animals. My husband prides himself on growing really good looking cattle.
- From there the cattle are processed and given a grade (Premium, Choice, Select) and that determines both the quality grade of the beef (think Applebee’s recent marketing of Choice steaks), and the price cattle owners like us are paid for our animals. The grade only speaks for the marbling and thickness of the steaks. No matter the grade, all steaks and beef processed is antibiotic free and inspected and certified by the USDA before being sold.
- The grade applies only to the steak cuts not to the hamburger, which is marketed by its fat content or its percent lean but if a steer produces Premium steaks then you better believe the hamburger is going to be extra tasty.
- From there customers (McDonalds, Shake Shack, Burger King, Ruth’s Chris and everything in between) purchases the beef to prep to their specifications.
What consumers often don’t realize is its the same cattle owners that produce the beef for Big Macs and Premium, high-end steaks. Cattle produce a wonderfully diverse line of beef products that can be used and served in a variety of ways. My husband prides himself of raising animals that are served at white table cloth restaurants but does so in a way that beef is affordable for those wanting to eat beef on a budget.
So if you think the $10 cheeseburger is healthier or somehow better for you than the $2 Big Mac, think again. It’s all nutrient-rich, protein-packed beef sourced from ranchers like us who invest time, money and a whole lotta energy raising healthy, happy cows. The only difference is the preparation method and the special sauce. So find your favorite burger and enjoy and don’t worry about staying trendy – beef is always in style!