What’s Your Elevator Speech?

At dinner the other tonight, in San Antonio, the team was asked to give our “elevator speech” about what a National Beef Ambassador does. I began thinking about how essential an elevator speech is for practical reasons in terms of professional and student life as a cattleman, a teacher, a business professional or whatever you do. Regardless of your position or occupation, there are components any great elevator speech should have.

Elevator speeches can be a quick and effective way to meet someone and make connections.

Elevator speeches can be a quick and effective way to meet someone and make connections.

Be Concise

The concept of an elevator speech is to be short, sweet and to the point. Don’t ramble about office life or a particular incident on the farm, but instead give a general overview in a quick sound byte.

Know your audience

Avoid a generalized elevator speech because the person you’re talking to may come from a different perspective. For example giving the same speech to a consumer and a beef producer will not yield the same response.

Make it personal

Small personal touches like where you were raised or why you have a current job or passion not only make your speech interesting to listen to, but provide a memorable and ultimately more honest snapshot of yourself.

Your elevator speech is your personal story...dont be afraid to tell it!

Your elevator speech is your personal story…dont be afraid to tell it!

I realize that this was a departure from the usual blog topics, but I thought it had a lot of interesting applications for both beef producers as well as consumers.

Elevator speeches can be a valuable tool to get your foot in the door in a variety of situations and they should be in anybody’s repertoire. However many of these tips require practice, especially boiling it down to the essentials. But with time and practice an elevator speech can be your business card in a few sentences and a valuable to asset to anybody.

Will Pohlman

Game Day Beef

Superbowl XLIX is around the corner and regardless of which team you’re rooting for we all know that the food for the watch party is critical for a perfect Superbowl experience. But preparing the food can be a logistical challenge, especially for families who are used to 30-minute meals. It may be easier to make chips and dip, but beef is much more satisfying not to mention nutritious and with the proper planning anyone can incorporate beef into their Superbowl Sunday. Here are 3 quick tips for beef preparations that flow smoothly.

Slow-cooked chili is the perfect game day food. It saves time and is always delicious!

Slow-cooked chili is the perfect game day food. It saves time and is always delicious!

Slow Cookers

Slow cookers are the perfect time saver… it’s as easy as throw it in and forget about it! Slow cookers also have the added benefit of allowing greater diversity and extra dishes at the table. Instead of trying to simultaneously prepare two dishes at once, throw chili or little smokies in the slow cooker and give those burgers the attention they deserve.

Go Bite Size! 

Whether it is cheeseburger sliders or sirloin kabobs, smaller servings not only cook faster but also are perfect finger food for any watch party.

Sliders are quicker and easier than full burgers and always a crowd pleaser.

Sliders are quicker and easier than full burgers and always a crowd pleaser.

 

Night-Before Prep

Tossing kabobs into marinade or pre-forming hamburger patties the night before the big day will shave off prep-time and let you get back to the game-day activities faster. Remember to keep all beef refrigerated until ready to cook!

Superbowl parties can be a time for fellowship with friends and family, but no one wants to spend more time in the kitchen than they have to. Follow these quick and easy game day tips with your beef preparations and you’ll be sure to get back to the activities sooner.

For new and interesting game day recipe ideas go to:

www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com

Will Pohlman

Enjoying Beef…on a Budget.

Beef is delicious! There’s not much better than a succulent steak or hearty beef dish and most Americans agree. However beef prices are at record highs and many people are turned away by the sticker shock of beef in the meat case. Speaking from the personal perspective of a college student budget, it can be challenging to dish out the money for a nice steak on a regular basis. The good news is, however, there are many ways to incorporate beef in your diet even if you’re on a budget. Here are 5 tips thrifty beef consumers can use at the meat case.

Buy in Bulk: A common money-saving tip, buying in bulk is an excellent way to save on goods…including beef. Look for family packages at the grocery store or purchase larger cuts of beef and hand carve your steaks. While the price on bulk packages may initially be a shock, the cost per pound savings is well worth the larger checkout total. Remember that any refrigerated product that isn’t used within a few days can be frozen and be viable for 6-12 months.

Cuts like the tri-tip are deliciously affordable.

Cuts like the tri-tip are deliciously affordable.

Utilize Lower-End Cuts: While a juicy tenderloin steak or prime rib is always great, they aren’t always within a budget. But many other cuts of beef cut from less valuable primals can yield tender, juicy meals much more affordably. These cuts generally require longer cooking times at lower heats and many are great for slow cookers or roasting. Try new favorite cuts such as the tri-tip or skirt steak!

Buy Direct: While many locally purchased foods can be more expensive, purchasing a quarter, half, or even whole steer directly from a local farmer can yield significant savings even on quality cuts. Buying direct has a number of bonuses as well such as requesting custom cuts and ground beef blends and knowing exactly where your beef came from and who produced it.

Buying directly from local farmers has many added benefits other than savings.

Buying directly from local farmers has many added benefits other than savings.

Buy Select: Many grocery stores sell choice beef, which has added premiums attached to it for its quality leading to higher prices. Select beef, containing less marbling (fat within the muscle), isn’t as highly valued as choice and is a more affordable option. Select beef also has the added benefit of generally being leaner, perfect for consumers watching their fat intake.

Sniff out Bargains: Many newspapers often include coupons for meat counter savings and local grocery stores often have sales and specials, especially for meat that is a little older. These savings, although generally only a few dollars, can definitely add up over time and help any budget.

Sales on beef in grocery stores are always great.

Sales on beef in grocery stores are always great.

Even with these money-saving tips and beef’s record prices, beef is an affordable protein. With beef averaging about $4 a pound and a recommended serving size of 4 oz. raw/3 oz. cooked, the cost of one serving of beef comes about to about $1 per serving. Nonetheless there are still many ways to save money at the meat case and still enjoy delicious and nutritious beef.

Will Pohlman

The Ruminant Recycler 

Growing up I always disliked salads. They never filled me up and I just didn’t feel satisfied. I found out later this was because many of the nutrients in salads are indigestible to monogastrics like humans. But how can cows eat only plants, I wondered? It turns out that ruminants such as cattle can utilize indigestible materials and convert them into nutritious and delicious beef! This expands the land area available for human food production.

Cattle's stomachs have four compartments which allow them to ferment forages with bacteria before digestion.

Cattle’s stomachs have four compartments which allow them to ferment forages with bacteria before digestion.

How can cattle do this amazing feat? Well actually they can’t! Cattle have four compartments to their stomachs and the first few contain bacteria and other microorganisms that utilize plant material as food. These bacteria convert the indigestible material into bacterial protein and sugars, which can then be digested. So really cattlemen are feeding a cow, but they’re also feeding the “bugs” in their stomach as well!

What does this ability to digest forage mean from a practical standpoint? My home state can help provide the answer. Much of Arkansas is dominated by deltas and flatlands perfect for row crop production, specifically rice. However the majority of the cattle in the state are found in the Ozark Mountains, where I call home, furthest west from the Mississippi river and flatlands. The rockier soil and rougher terrain in the mountains isn’t suitable to crop production and pastures dominate the landscape as a result. While most of this land could not be used to produce food fit for human consumption, cattle that don’t mind the hills can graze it. Thus the entire northwest corner of Arkansas, inadequate to large-scale crop production, can graze cattle and produce beef, utilizing more land for food production!

The hills of Northwest Arkansas are spectacular, but not suited to crop production...that's where cattle come in!

The hills of Northwest Arkansas are spectacular, but not suited to crop production…that’s where cattle come in!

Cattle’s ability to increase food production can also be seen in feedlots. While cattle are fed recognizable grains such as corn, they can also be fed by-products from industrial activities such as brewing, converting otherwise wasted material into edible food. I’ve also visited farms near potato chip plants that use wasted or discarded chips as the main source of energy in cattle diets!

Table 1. Common By-product Feeds Derived from Food and Fiber Processing
Raw Product By-product Feed Component Removed
Soybean Soybean Meal Soybean Oil
Soy Hulls Dehulled Soybean Meal
Wheat Middlings (Midds) Flour (starch)
Bran Starch & Germ
Barley Brewers’ Grains Starch & Alcohol
Corn Distillers’ Grains Starch & Alcohol
Gluten Feed Starch & Sweeteners
Hominy Degermed Corn Meal
Cotton Whole Cottonseed Cotton Fiber
Cottonseed Meal Hulls & Oil
Sugar Beets Beet Pulp Sugar & Starch

Alternative Feeds for Beef Cattle by Mark L. Wahlberg

Ruminants such as cattle greatly expand the amount of land that can be used for food production and utilize material that would otherwise be wasted to produce a nutrient-dense and digestible food source. This ability to recycle unusable products into a nutritious product contributes to the sustainability of food production and helps decrease waste. So the beef in local supermarkets is the recycled product of inedible grasses, by-products, and maybe even potato chips!

Will Pohlman

Branded Beef

Brands. Consumers see them every time they enter a store. From Kraft Mac & Cheese to Oreos branded products have become a mainstay, but what about branding commodity products like beef? As I learned from our recent trip to Certified Angus Beef ®, branding commodity products like beef has a lot of benefits for both consumers and producers. Here are four reasons why branded beef is an excellent addition to choices in the meat case.

Branded beef adds quality options to the meat case.

Branded beef adds quality options to the meat case.

Quality

Beef in the meat case can provide a large range of eating experiences…some good and others lower quality. Branded beef programs try to provide a more consistent, quality experience for consumers and create a reliable product that their families can enjoy. This is done through the brand’s specifications and criteria. Some brands have stringent quality specifications and others have looser ones, but the idea of a more consistent product is each brand’s ultimate goal.

Options

There’s a huge variety of beef in the grocery store, but this variety can be hard to tell under identical labels. Branded beef helps make the differences in beef clear and give consumers a greater choice when selecting the beef they want to put on their table. Whether it is options like Certified Angus Beef ® Natural, USDA Organic or the various grass-finished and local beef brands, branded beef provides options for consumers.

 

1-californiara

Branded beef benefits producers too!

Target Markets for Producers

Branded beef programs also provide benefits to beef producers who now have the option to target these brands’ specifications rather than providing commodity beef. Brands such as Certified Angus Beef ® have attached premiums for beef that meets the brands’ criteria and these premiums can help increase profitability for cattlemen and incentivize the production of higher quality beef. Markets such as organic and grass-finished also provide niche markets for producers to target.

Stability

As current events show, the beef market is dynamic and constantly changing. With economic instability coupled with environmental woes such as drought taking a toll on the beef industry, beef prices soared as cattle numbers decreased. Perhaps paradoxically, however, the demand for branded beef products outpaced the demand for commodity beef during this time. Branded beef thus provides a level of stability in the marketplace.

It’s important to remember that all beef, regardless of brand, provides the same nutrition and safety that has come to be expected. But branded beef simply provides more options and consistency to consumers who wish to pay more for a recognizable product that they believe in.

Will Pohlman

New Year’s Resolutions

 New Year’s is here and as 2014 is drawing to a close, many people are considering ways of improvement for 2015: New Year’s resolutions. Some people promise to try harder in school or branch out more, but frequent resolutions include dietary corrections and weight loss. Unfortunately many people try to accomplish this by limiting red meat in their diets. But beef is a great inclusion to any diet! Here are some reasons why beef should be a part of anyone’s New Year’s resolution.

Beef has a packed nutrient profile!

Beef has a packed nutrient profile!

Beef is Nutritious

Many people try to start eating healthier during the new year and beef is definitely an excellent part to any diet focused on nutrition. Beef is nutrient packed! In about 150 calories, a 3 oz. serving of lean beef is an excellent source of nutrients such as protein, zinc and B12 and a good source of nutrients such as iron and choline. Just remember the 10-10-10 rule: in less than 10% of the recommended daily calorie intake, a 3 oz. serving of beef provides more than 10% of 10 essential vitamins and nutrients!

 Beef is Heart Healthy

Surprise! The beef you love has heart health benefits as well according to a growing body of scientific evidence. Recent studies such as the BOLD diet (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) found that lean beef in a healthy diet helped lower cholesterol just as effectively as a gold standard heart health diet. Other studies have found that moderately overweight women who incorporated lean beef in their reduced-calorie diets lowered bad cholesterol levels and maintained good cholesterol levels.

Runners love beef because it provides fuel for the finish!

Runners love beef because it provides fuel for the finish!

Beef Provides Fuel for Exercise and Weight Loss

Many people want to lose weight during the New Year through exercise and beef provides the fuel to do so. The same study that found the heart health benefits in moderately overweight women also found they successfully lost weight and reduced body fat. Also athletes such as the runners for Team Beef can provide testimony that beef’s nutrient packed profile provides the fuel they need to train and finish races and marathons and beef can no doubt help with other forms of physical activity!

There are a lot of ways to love lean beef. Try them all!

There are a lot of ways to love lean beef. Try them all!

 Beef is Versatile

Beef is a nutritious addition to any resolution but many people fail to stick with the resolutions they outline. Beef’s versatility in the kitchen and its myriad of uses will no doubt keep things interesting, helping ensure longevity to any dietary-based resolution. There are currently 29 lean cuts of beef so don’t be afraid to try them all and utilize new spices and recipes!

 Beef is Delicious

New Year’s resolutions can be hard to stick with and most people give up by the end of January. But including beef in a dietary resolution has the double-punch combo of being nutritious and delicious! It’s easy to stick to a healthy diet when it includes tasty meals such as tenderloins, T-Bones, and the always popular ground beef. Yum!

Hopefully, regardless of any resolutions that may be set, the New Year finds everyone in the best of conditions and spirits. I hope that 2015 is a fantastic year for everybody! Happy New Years!

Will Pohlman

Christmas On the Farm

It’s here! The most wonderful time of the year is finally upon us and the countdown to every child’s favorite morning is almost over. Christmas truly is a spectacular time of year filled with family, traditions, faith, and human compassion. However while many kids are eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival or families are opening a present early on Christmas Eve, farmers are still hard at work caring for their cattle among other Christmas traditions. Christmas traditions are a little different on the farm though.

White Christmas on a farm means moving snow for cows!

White Christmas on a farm means moving snow for cows!

On Christmas Eve many people are finishing up their shopping and running last-minute errands to make Christmas Day run seamlessly. Well farmers do the same thing! The only difference is most of the last-minute tasks are focused on making Christmas easier around the farm. My Christmas Eve was always spent feeding hay to the usual pens and pastures but also to ones that would usually be fed the next day so the family could spend more time inside together. We would also have buckets of grain ready to go for the next day as well. But of course we always had last minute shopping to do as well and we made sure to get that done!

 

All work and no play is never any fun...snowballs are!

All work and no play is never any fun…snowballs are!

Christmas morning. Who doesn’t remember jumping out of bed early to see what Santa had left under the tree? Well growing up we had two rules: 1. No presents until the family ate breakfast together and 2. No breakfast for us until the cattle had been fed theirs. So every Christmas morning I got to ponder over my presents while throwing grain and hay, usually as quickly as possible so that I could get back inside! Rain or shine, weekend or weekday, holiday or workday, farmers are always working to care for their livestock, often placing the needs of their cattle ahead of their own.

Sometimes just tossing grain can be a problem!

Sometimes just tossing grain can be a problem!

Of course no Christmas would be complete without the focus on family time and Christmas on the farm is no different. And even though there’s still much to do around the farm, Christmas is a time to slow down (even if just a little) and spend time with family.

Wishing everyone safe travels and the Merriest of Christmases!

Will Pohlman 

6 Reasons I Love Coming Home to the Farm 

The fall semester is over and Christmas is almost here! This is one of my favorite times of the year for many reasons: the Christmas cheer, the relief of finishing classes, seeing distant family etc. But the biggest reason this time of the year is my favorite is that I get to go home to the farm. Now don’t get me wrong I love Fayetteville and the university, but home is where the heart is after all. Here is why I love coming home to the farm.

The Space

Fayetteville is by no means a large city, but a semester of a small apartment, tight parking, and bumping shoulders with other students is slightly claustrophobic. Going home to an open field and being able to just whip the truck in the yard and leave it without fear of a parking ticket is definitely comforting.

The Work

Wait what?! Let me explain myself here. Although farm chores always seemed to get old when I was little, I realized after a semester of papers, reading, cramming for tests, and all the other school and extracurricular activities that the manual labor of throwing grain or feeding hay is cathartic. There’s something comforting about working like I did when I was a kid.

The Cows

Going along with the daily chores, it is great to come home to the root of it all: the cattle. Walking the fields and checking the cows is sort of like catching up with old friends that you haven’t seen in a while. Many of the cattle on my farm have been around for over a decade and it’s great coming home to their familiar faces, not to mention any of the calves they may have had while I was away!

The Food

I am no chef but I can hold my own in a kitchen. Nevertheless I tend to eat out (aka running to Taco Bell at 1 a.m.) more often than not. Even the food I do prepare at home just isn’t the same. I love coming home to a home-cooked meal like when I was kid. Mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and BEEF steaks and roasts… Yum!

The Bed

My mattress at home is by no means luxurious. In fact my apartment’s bed is probably a nicer brand and without a doubt newer. Yet there is something great about coming home to the bed I slept in growing up. And after a hard week of finals and all-nighters it is definitely relieving to be able to rest up in a comfortable bed.

The Family

Of course no Christmas break would be complete without a family and on a family farm it wouldn’t be the same without them. I love coming home and catching up while working cows or moving hay. Sure it’s not the usual break but it’s what makes the farm home.

Wishing everyone the best over the break!

Will Pohlman

Home For The Holidays

Well it’s almost time! Only a handful of tests and papers stand between every college student and the holidays and by this time next week I will be back on the farm. Although I only live ten miles away and frequently return home to help with chores, there’s something exciting about sleeping in my own bed and eating food that I grew up with.

One of my absolute favorite home-cooked meals is roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy. I’m not sure if there is any dish that reminds me more of home and honestly the thought of it is my finish line this finals season. Mom has her secrets for her roast beef (including an antique pan from my grandmother), but there are plenty of fantastic roast recipes. Here’s a great recipe!

Roast beef is a great homey recipe that is perfect for the holidays.

Roast beef is a great homey recipe that is perfect for the holidays.

·      1 teaspoon olive oil

·      1 (3-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed

·      1 teaspoon salt

·      1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

·      2 cups coarsely chopped onion

·      1 cup dry red wine (optional)

·      4 thyme sprigs (optional)

·      1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium beef broth

·      1 bay leaf

·      4 large carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

·      Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a roasting pan/Dutch oven and briefly sear onions then remove from pan. Season your chuck roast (don’t be afraid to heavily season and personalize it with spices like rosemary!)  and brown in the pan. Add the seared onions as well as thyme and bay leaf. Cover with beef broth and red wine and bring to a simmer. Cover and bake in oven at 350° for 1 ½ hours or until meat is nearly tender. Add carrots and bake for another hour or until the carrots are tender. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf and enjoy! The remaining broth is excellent for gravy served over mashed potatoes with garlic.

If your mom objects to trying a roast or new recipe, remind her of some advantages.

·      Roasts are economical and utilize cheaper, less tender cuts of beef such as those from the chuck and turn them into a tender and delicious meal.

·      Roasts are time efficient and require little prep time and the time in the oven is the perfect time to catch up with family.

·      Roasts are the perfect dish for larger, family meals. One roast can easily serve 6-8 people, perfect for holiday gatherings!

·      Beef is just as nutritious as it is delicious! One 3 oz. serving of beef is a good source of 10 essential vitamins and nutrients in less than 150 calories.

Don’t be afraid to try new beef recipes over the break! I wish everyone the best of luck with finals.

Will Pohlman

 

5 Recipe and Snack Ideas for Finals

It’s here. That dreaded time of year when you are still trying to recover from the food coma that is Thanksgiving and get ready for Christmas. No I’m not talking about getting Christmas presents for all of your extended family or getting ready to visit in-laws. I’m talking about the time of year that has every college student in a non-stop caffeine-induced zombie state – finals. With the crazy all-nighter cram sessions and nervously calculating grade averages and required test scores, it can be easy to let your diet fall by the wayside. But beef can be great study food! Here are some quick and easy recipe ideas that any college student can make that are great for a time-crunched dinner or snack.

Nachos

1.     Beefy Nachos 

Beef, cheese, chips and taco seasoning. What can go wrong?! Nachos are a great meal or study snack that anybody can make during a study break. They are quick and easy and always delicious. Make them your own by adding salsa, guacamole, or sour cream.

2.     Sloppy Joe’s 

Whether you use canned mix or a great Pinterest recipe, sloppy joe’s are a hearty meal that can be made in less than 30 minutes. Personalize them with bell peppers or onions or try them spicy!

Chili

3.     Chili 

Chili is the perfect chilly-weather pick-me-up…no pun intended. I love throwing it together in a slow cooker in the morning, going to class and coming back to a warm snack and dinner.

4.     Fajitas 

With so much room for customization and a quick prep-time fajitas are great for any quick meal!

5.     Beef Jerky

A classic. Carry a stick in your backpack for a protein fix anytime! Try new flavors and branch out your snack food.

Hopefully these recipe and snack ideas can help you make it through the finals season! Wishing everyone the best of luck.

Will Pohlman