Celebrating National Beef Month: May the beef be with you all year!

May was National Beef Month, but why limit celebrating this wholesome, delicious food to just one month of the year?

Fresh steaks on the grill make a delicious and healthy summer meal! Photo credit: PicJumbo | MSU Extension

Fresh steaks on the grill make a delicious and healthy summer meal! Photo credit: PicJumbo | MSU Extension

May is a month of many celebrations: Mother’s Day, graduations, Memorial Day and many more. What better way to honor these events than by celebrating National Beef Month at the same time with a hamburger, steak, ribs or your favorite cut of beef? Yes! May is National Beef Month, but why limit your celebration to just one month when you can feast on this wholesome, delicious food all year round!

Beef is a powerful ally in our diets, supplying ten essential nutrients, including protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. These nutrients are important for building muscles, keeping your brain healthy and maintaining a strong immune system. In addition, lean beef is a heart-healthy food that can help in lowering “bad” cholesterol when included as part of a daily diet. A 3.5 oz. serving of lean beef packs a lot of punch and 18 of the 25 most popular cuts of beef do just that!

Locally, the combined beef and dairy industries are significant contributors to Michigan agriculture and the state’s economy. As of January 1, 2013, there were 113,000 beef cows and 28,000 replacement beef heifers counted as part of the 1.2 million cattle in Michigan being raised in 80 counties. In-state production of beef meets about 33 percent of Michigan’s consumer demand for this savory meat.

Michigan youth are also involved with beef production through the 4-H Beef Project. More than 4,500 dedicated youth select the finest animal, care for and raise it before showcasing their hard work at local county fairs and state level events, including the Michigan Livestock Expo. Youth caring for livestock projects not only learn the commitment and hard work necessary when raising an animal entering the food supply, but also valuable lessons that will help them in all future endeavors.  Communication with peers and adults, accountability, financial responsibility and marketing are just a few of the life skills youth learn through 4-H.

In addition to fairs and exhibitions, another great event for4-H’ers showing livestock is the 4-H Beef, Sheep, and Swine Teen and Adult Leaders Workshop hosted at the Kettunen Center every February.  Youth and adults from across Michigan come together for this two-day event to learn from Michigan State University faculty, large animal veterinarians and industry experts about a wide range of topics in the livestock industry. Look for more information on joining this weekend of learning, fellowship and fun in December!

If you want to gain first-hand knowledge of how beef cattle are raised,why not join Michigan State University Extension and Uphaus Farms on September 6 for Breakfast on the Farm in Washtenaw County?  Breakfast on the Farm is a unique event where farmers open their doors to the public so they can see exactly how and where the food on their tables is produced.

Just because the calendar says May is almost over for 2014, it doesn’t mean celebrating beef can’t continue throughout the rest of the year.  May the beef be with you all year long!

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