.....A view from "down the lane" ....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The MYTHS about "cow burps" continue......

Cattle Are NOT the REAL threat when it comes to METHANE...

Why does the MYTH continue? Why do people -- whose obvious agenda is to denigrate cattle because they are vegetarian and hate agriculturalists -- continue reporting what is not the clear truth?

There's a report out by the EPA that has been overlooked or ignored by the media......

The FACT IS: CATTLE are not the big contributors to methane and global warming that some would have you believe.

Since the release of a United Nations (U.N.) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report in 2006, people talk about carbon footprints and the green house gases generated by livestock, particularly cows. That report claims that globally, raising livestock generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide and somehow equates to the use of fossil fuels, eg: driving cars and trucks. This story has appeared over and over again in the media.
It's not ACCURATE....there is MORE to the story -- as put out by the EPA:

A second study released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) SHOULD have received media attention, but didn't. The EPA report, entitled "U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks", actually calculated the numbers and has determined that 80 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions come from the combustion of FOSSIL FUELS. ONLY 2.3 percent comes from food animal production.

Although the EPA report clearly shows that the FAO statistics are unsubstantiated and should be re-evaluated, the media and other online sources have directed Americans to reduce their meat consumption in order to save the planet.

The fact of the matter is, that cows -- like the American bison/buffalo -- is environmentally friendly and aids in the seed dispersement and balance of nature. Their hooves act to stir the soil, move and transplant grass seed. They do not overgraze, by nature; they roam naturally and continually. They are also creatures of habit, crossing streams in a line, not damaging the banks like many people assume. MOREOVER, according to recent studies, GRASS-FED BEEF ARE BELIEVED TO HELP REVERSE THE GREEHNOUSE EFFECTS. Pastures and grasslands store carbon, vs. releasing it into the atmosphere!

More than 85% of all grazing lands are not suited for crop production, according to the USDA. Grazing rangelands is an environmentally SOUND management tool; it converts dry matter, that could be called FIRE HAZARDS, into a food source; ruminants can convert the roughage easily into muscle/meat. According to one Oregon range manager, "Without controlled grazing, the forage on public lands will become wolfy (Not succulent), [and] big game will move to private lands." Moreover, grazing protects the environment by "building soils, protecting water and riparian areas, and enhancing habitat." In Canada, ranchers and farmers are PAID to take cattle, sheep, and goats into the mountains to help protect from major wildfires.

In addition:
More than 75% of ALL WILDLIFE IN the continental U.S. (excluding Alaska) is supported by PRIVATE, NOT PUBLIC land. Private land, eg: ranches and farmlands, provide habitat, water, wetlands, and food for big game and waterfowl. In the eastern U.S., that figure increases considerably; almost all wildlife is dependent on private lands. Most of the spawning and rearing habitat for migrating fish occur on PRIVATE ranch lands.

From 1960 – 1990, it was estimated by BLM that public lands (rangelands) had seen a marked improvement in habitat and herd restoration: elk populations had increased by nearly 800%, big horn sheep by 435%; antelope, by 112%, moose by 500%; and deer by 33%.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Staking out Beef: Know Your Steaks, their values, their cuts

If you're learning about cooking beef, it's important to STAKE out the proper information about STEAKS, in general. Steaks come in all shapes and sizes and from low price to higher-priced. Lean beef is as healthy as skinless chicken breasts, so there is no reason to avoid all beef steaks! Here is some basic information about steaks. Do check out recipes and study the steaks listed so that you capitalize on flavor and tenderness while preparing easy and great menus.

Much of the appreciation for beef comes through the cuts you select . Most important to remember? A steak is not just a steak!

There are a number of types:

The most tender cuts of beef come from the rib, short loin, and the sirloin. Steaks from the chuck, plate, and flank are tougher, although wonderfully tasty. Cuts from the brisket, shank, and round are by far the toughest and leanest of all beef cuts, which make them perfect for slow-cooking dishes. Cooking methods for these cuts include braising, roasting, stewing, but not grilling. One important note about the tougher or leaner cuts of beef: lean steaks don't have much protection against overcooking, but lend themselves to dishes that use marinades.

Getting to know the cuts of beef are important if you want to be able to select the right cuts. The rib-eye or rib steak comes in boneless or bone-in cuts: Spencer steak, Market steak, Delmonico steak are boneless. The rib steak (a favorite among steak eaters!) is a bone-in steak. These steaks are generally tender and juicy. From the sirloin comes a number of favorite cuts: from the Top sirloin comes a London broil, center cut sirloin, top sirloin butt steak. While flavorful, this cut can vary in tenderness; the Top sirloin is the most desirable. These cuts are usually at least 1 1/2 inches thick and many people like to marinade these cuts. Also from the sirloin comes the Tri-tip, a favorite in the west, but harder to find in the east. These are smaller, leaner steaks, and it's important to slice the meat thinly ACROSS the grain for maximum tenderness. Great for serving guests, the Tri-tip is featured at many barbeques and should be kept fairly thick.

From the Chuck (or shoulder), this boneless steak has good flavor, though it may carry a fair amount of fat and/or gristle. Again, these steaks should be sliced thinly when serving and many cooks prefer to cook these as pot roasts. The Top blade steak, another cut from the chuck, is quite tender and moderately priced, making it a good choice for the value. There is a line of gristle that can be cut out and this steak is great to marinade.

From the Short Loin (or back) comes the tenderloin steaks that people pay high prices for in restaurants or supermarkets: these are tender and flavorful. Included in these cuts are the filet mignon, the filet steak, tournedos, and filet de boeuf. Also from this cut comes the T-bone and the Porterhouse, characterized by a T-shaped bone; the Porterhouse has a larger tenderloin "section". Both are popular restaurant selections. Finally, from this cut comes the Top loin steak, including such selections as the strip steak, New York strip steak, boneless club, and others -- all boneless. Bone-in selections include the New York strip loin, club sirloin steak, and the Delmonico steak. All of these cuts feature marbling, which is the element that gives beef its greatest flavor and tenderness.

There are a number of other cuts, as well, from the Flank & Plate (or underbelly), which tend to be leaner but well-flavored. Great cuts for marinades or quick grilling. These include the London broil, the flank steak, the hanging tenderloin, and the skirt steak, or Philadelphia steak. These steaks are often used in fajitas or sliced in cold salads, etc.

In my next post, I'll share some information about cooking steak, about marinades, and more about beef nutrition!