AMY KIRK: The ultimate meat skepticsTo clarify whether or not beef is safe to eat, I would encourage people to dine with the world’s biggest meat critics: ranchers. Trust me, having lunch or dinner with a rancher will cure all skepticism.
To clarify whether or not beef is safe to eat, I would encourage people to dine with the world’s biggest meat critics: ranchers. Trust me, having lunch or dinner with a rancher will cure all skepticism.
What’s tainted about hamburger is the lack of accurate information shared with the public and especially the people handling and preparing it. Preventing food-borne illnesses simply takes some precautionary measures but most importantly, cooking the meats at the proper internal temperature: 160 degrees for hamburgers, 145 degrees for roasts and steaks.
For those who don’t have a meat thermometer, I’d be willing to bet the South Dakota Beef Council would send one along with correct information answering any questions regarding what people have “heard” about beef.
Ranchers are notoriously finicky about their meat. I have firsthand experience dealing with such behavior but my conversations with other ranch wives verify that meeting any ranchers’ high expectations of meat doneness is a standard marital challenge.
Cattlemen are the ultimate connoisseurs of beef. Besides potatoes and maybe bread, beef is pretty much all they eat and the last thing they want to do is jeopardize their dinner. Cattle-producers know their product and ranching families rarely experience food borne illness from beef because they know how to properly prepare and cook it.
My family has high expectations of meat. It should be beef. My husband wants his beef cooked to his specifications regardless of where he eats it. If there’s any question, it gets the fork lift and cut apart for further inspection. Beef is king in our home and for good reason. It’s satiating, tasty, and provides necessary nutrients (zinc, iron, and protein among others) for energy—very important around here but beef reigns over all other meats with most ranching families.
If people need proof that American beef is safe to eat then they should read the label’s expiration date, ensure it’s been kept cold, wash their hands before handling, use different platters and utensils for cooked and uncooked meats, and cook the meat until it reaches the right internal temperature. Still, any skeptic’s best bet is to find out what a rancher orders when he goes out to lunch or dinner. Producers believe in beef because they’re the ones producing it. Regardless of what else is on the menu, 99% of ranchers will order steak or prime rib. The other percentage will order a hamburger.
There is no stricter or more obsessive meat critic than cattlemen. Going out to dinner with them can be just as aggravating as cooking for them. Once they’ve eaten steak or prime rib at a restaurant that cooked it to their satisfaction and met their high expectations, they become loyal patrons. They’re not interested in trying out new restaurants if they’ve found a place that serves beef consistently cooked the way they like it. Any restaurant that a rancher patronizes regularly is getting the highest compliment and seal of approval it can receive.
The best way to reassure those who question beef’s quality, healthiness, and safety is to dine amongst ranchers. Notice what the cattlemen are eating at a restaurant and tell the waiter “I’ll have what they’re having.”
Visit www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com or www.sdbeef.org for accurate information about beef.
P.S. Last week, I received an e-mail from Stetson/Resistol hat sales representative Jim Shaykett regarding my column about cowboy movies, in which I criticized Wall Drug and the kind of cowboy apparel sold and purchased there. Shaykett described a different viewpoint from what I’d written. His words humbled me and opened my eyes to the fact that Wall Drug is also a place locals patronize and some work at. If you’re someone like me who’s taken Wall Drug for granted, I encourage you to do what I’m going to do and make an effort to see Wall Drug with a different set of eyes. At my earliest opportunity, I plan to stop at Wall Drug to do some Christmas shopping, view the art gallery, peruse the western clothing and merchandise that Shaykett mentioned to me, and have lunch. Wall Drug’s coffee is good, but I don’t recommend ordering the humble pie.