Would Removing Beef from the Diet Actually Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Happy Earth Day! Today is generally a day for us to be involved in doing something constructive for our community and our planet. It is also a time to reflect on the sustainability of the Earth and our resources.

The consumption of meat, specifically beef, gets a bad reputation for being perceived as a high emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG). This article share other sources of GHG. More importantly, it challenges you to think about food waste as a consumer, and the role you play in global concerns.

Facts About Beef

Ashley Broocks, Emily Andreini, Megan Rolf, Ph.D., and Sara Place, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University

This is a topic of discussion within the beef industry. The following article does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Beef Checkoff or the US Department of Agriculture. 

Many people have suggested that removing beef from the human diet could significantly lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In reality, completely removing beef from the diet would likely not result in huge declines in GHG emissions and would have negative implications for the sustainability of the U.S. food system.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), beef cattle production was responsible for 1.9 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions in 2013. Comparing food production (essential for human life) to transportation and electricity (non-essential for human survival, but important to our modern lifestyles) is problematic. Electricity and transportation produce much of the GHG emissions in the…

View original post 393 more words

Advertisements

Meat, poultry, and eggs: What does the USDA test for? Fun Fact Friday

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just released the annual U.S. National Residue Program for Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products, a.k.a. the “Blue Book” which summarizes the process that the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) will use to sample meat, poultry, and egg products in 2015 for chemical contaminants of public health concern (i.e. pesticides, hormones, heavy metals, antibiotics, etc.). The chemical compounds tested for include approved and unapproved veterinary drugs, pesticides, and environmental compounds.

Not only is testing done on meat and eggs raised/grown in the U.S., but also on imported goods. However, the testing is different and somewhat limited on imported products (page 9 for more details).

————————————————

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Meal Planning: 10 Tips from a beginner’s perspective

A lot of things I have read recently about food waste have referenced that having a plan for food is a main component to reducing food waste. It is estimated that Americans are wasting about 40% of food grown for human consumption! Wow.

Collectively, we can all contribute to reducing food waste, decreasing methane emissions of rotting food in landfills, and leave more money in our pockets. Today I want to chat about meal planning. I have been a come-and-go meal planner over the years. But in 2015, one of my goals was to be better at it. I want to share some of the things I have found that work for me.

1. Start small. I do not plan each and everything thing we eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks 7 days a week. I just plan our evening meals, and usually just for five nights.

meal list2
Our menu for the next week.

2. Align your menu with your week. There are some weeks I have two to three night meetings, during those weeks a strict menu is not in the cards for me. If possible, I try to do the bulk of the cooking on the weekend prior to my week of meetings. It is a win-win in our house, I can take leftovers during the week and the Hubs has dinner on the nights I am gone.

3. Make a list. Have you ever gotten to the grocery store, just to realize you left your list at home? Ugh me too (I know what you are thinking, just make your list on your phone and then that is not a problem, I use my phone for a lot of things, but as my grocery list, it is just something I just have been able to do yet). For me the list is very important. I rely heavily on it for remembering what I need to get. I have also been that person that goes to the store with my mental list of four items, and I come home with $80 worth of stuff! Creating a list helps to just shop for what you need (reducing waste) and it keeps more money in your pocket by limiting impulse purchases. When I buy canned vegetables or dry goods I will also buy an extra here or there to keep a healthy supply in the pantry.

4. Don’t beat yourself up if the menu changes. I write down a list of things I plan to make during the week and decide the day before what we will be having, some people I know assign food items to each night. There is no right or wrong way to do it, do what works best for your family. Sometimes during the week something else comes up and I don’t get around to making something I had planned, we just move that item to the weekend (one of the reasons I usually just plan for five meals a week).

5. You don’t have to always cook. Some nights I come home and I just want to have a glass of wine and kick my feet up. Luckily no little people depend on us for food in those cases. On those nights I will just cut up cheese, fruit, vegetables, and gather some crackers. If we have french bread for dipping (sliced wheat bread just doesn’t do it for me), I will bust out some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This meal is perfect on the nights where you don’t want to cook, clean your kitchen, or even be in the kitchen.

6. Have fun with it. I like to cook and try new recipes, so I challenge myself to try one to two new recipes a week. Some of these new recipes have turned into family favorites for us. Even with this goal, we still get stuck in the rut of having some of the same things over and over, that is when I start increasing the amount of new recipes I try.

7. Don’t forget the staples. As I said before, I only plan for our dinner meals, however I know our eating patterns and shop for those. Breakfast items usually consist of things like oatmeal, yogurt, milk, string cheese, toast, smoothies, fruit, or any combination. Lunch is either leftovers or sandwiches (meat/cheese or PBJ). Plus I always make sure we keep stuff on hand for spaghetti, which is great for a quick and easy meal and one meal the Hubs has mastered. Additionally, I always purchase fruits and vegetables that are great in a main dish or by themselves as a healthy snack. In our house having these things always on hand makes food prep for all meals easy.

8. Embrace your leftovers. With just two people in our household leftovers are pretty common. But we love leftovers. They are great to take for lunch in the following days. Sometimes we also have a “leftover night” where we eat all of the random leftovers, think of those nights as a 5-course meal nights 🙂 If you are not a leftover person, I encourage you to work on cutting your recipes so that you are only making what you can eat in that one setting, thus reducing food waste.

9. Random ingredients left at the end of the week. Sometimes you may not get around to making something you had planned, or you bought more of an ingredient than you needed for your recipe. It seems that every week I use up these random ingredients by making soup, stew, chili, smoothies, or salads. All of these are handy for using up leftover fruits, vegetables, meat, broths, and other ingredients.

10. Involve your family. When I bust out 10 new recipes a week, I ask Hubs to choose a couple he would like me to try. This works out well because I have already picked the ones I want, but he also gets a voice in choosing the final menu for the week. It is a better shared experience for both of us.

meal list
A list of what we have had in the last month.

I have found that by planning out evening menus we are saving money when we go grocery shopping, we very rarely throw away any food, and we are having fun cooking and tasting new recipes.

Do you plan your meals? What other tips do you have?

———————-

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

The most influential man you may have never heard of…

This week is National Agriculture week, and today (March 25) is National Ag Day! For those of us in agriculture, this is our week to geek out if you will. I believe agriculture is important enough to be celebrated daily, but since it is not, here are some fun facts for you…

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) is responsible for conducting the National Ag Day annually as a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Both the ACA and National Ag Day were founded in 1973! There are four key values, they believe every American should:

– Understand how food and fiber products are produced.

– Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant, and affordable products.

– Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.

– Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food, and fiber industry.

Heifers
Heifers thinking I may have some special treats for them…

Before the ACA and National Ag Day, there was a man named Dr. Norman Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009) who was called the “Father of the Green Revolution”. He was also called the “Man who saved a billion lives”! Those are some amazing and powerful titles. Dr. Borlaug was born on a farm in Ceresco, Iowa; he studied forestry, plant pathology, and microbiology; and was a practical, energetic, hands-on researcher who worked side-by-side with farm workers, students, and interns. Dr Borlaug spent 22 years in Mexico, and during that time a dwarf variety of wheat was developed that produced large amounts of grain, resisted disease, and resisted lodging (bending and breaking of the stalk on high producing varieties). This wheat variety was not only planted in Mexico, but also in India, Pakistan, Central and South America, Near and Middle East, and Africa – and was responsible for feeding a billion starving people!

borlaug-young
Dr. Norman Borlaug

Norman Borlaug received many prestigious awards in his lifetime including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal (the last two medals are the highest a civilian can receive). In 1984 he went to Texas A&M University as a Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture. The Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture has been established at Texas A&M, with the mission “To employ agricultural science to feed the world’s hungry and to support equity, quality of life and mutual respect among peoples.”  

norman_borlaug
The man credited with saving a billion lives – Norman Borlaug

As you may have noticed, today, March 25, would have been Dr. Borlaug’s 100th birthday. To honor this legend, a statue of his likeness will be unveiled tonight at the U.S. Capitol by congressional leaders and Iowa lawmakers.

1nborlaug
Dr. Norman Borlaug

Today, on National Ag Day, and your 100th birthday celebration, I salute you Dr. Normal Borlaug, for your tremendous advancements in plant breeding and genetics!