Burger Love… Fun Fact Friday

Hamburgers are a culinary delight. Every time I travel internationally, a big, juicy hamburger is always on my list of things to have when I get back in the States (and ice, and iced tea, and Dr. Pepper – and I digress). But seriously, it is hard to beat a good hamburger.


The Nebraska Beef Council is in search of the 2014 Nebraska’s Best Burger. If you have a favorite, be sure to nominate them!

Best Burger Logo 2014

Did you know that hamburgers account for roughly 40% of all sandwiches sold commercially each year! That is a lot of burger love!

Bacon and onion ring? Yes please!

What is your favorite way to enjoy a hamburger?


Jello, lipstick, and marshmallows – oh my!

Crazy weather across the country has me thinking about making a stop by the grocery store on the way home and getting a few essentials in case we get snowed in… And s’mors seem like a great weekend snow/comfort food! And s’mores are great because you can make them in the microwave, and you can watch the marshmallow get big and puffy…

Mmmm s’mores!

Marshmallows are obviously an essential ingredient of s’mores. Fun fact: did you know that marshmallows are a byproduct of cattle?! Yes, you read that right. Marshmallows, ice cream, canned meats, candies, and jello all contain gelatin – which is a beef byproduct! Additionally, from animal fat we can get such products as cosmetics, shaving cream, candles, and detergents! Bio-fuels, methane, pet food, paints, rubber, and so much more also come from beef byproducts!

A few examples of inedible beef byproducts.

If this shocks you or disgusts you, I challenge you to consult this list or this list, and decide where in your daily life of transportation, health and medicine, personal care, or entertainment you could cut something out?! I bet it would be very challenging.

While we typically think of meat as the only product from cattle, there are many, many more things can come from a beef animal. The beef industry wastes very little of an animal. I encourage you to find out more about rendering from National Renderers Association website (there is a great video that explains the rendering industry). Rendering reduces waste and public health concerns – it is sustainable and environmentally friendly!

I hope you continue to enjoy your beef byproducts, I know I will!


A little Sochi for your home… Fun Fact Friday

As the Winter Olympics get underway, it only seems this blog post should be about Sochi. The USA received its first gold in snow boarding!

If you are an adventurous cook or eater, some of these recipes may interest you. Not all of them will be unfamiliar, there are crepes, beef stroganoff, and well, vodka! Some of them do look tasty, and I think I will give them a chance in our house.

The Olympic torch traveled 40,300 miles – the longest to date! It also took a “space walk” on the International Space Station! Read more fun, and not so fun facts here.

While the Sochi Olympics have received their fair share of bad press, the Olympics are still an amazing display of athleticism, dedication, and hard work. I am excited about so many new events this year! What are your favorite events?

Super Bowl Fun Fact Friday

It is no surprise that the Super Bowl is this Sunday, February 2. So I thought today I would bring you some interesting Super Bowl facts.


The first Super Bowl was played in 1967, and tickets sold for $6! Price increases have outpaced inflation and the face value for tickets this year range between $500 and $2,600.

In the U.S., spending on Super Bowl-related merchandise, apparel, and snacks is expected to reach $12.3 billion, or an average of $68.27 per consumer!

The game will be broadcast live in over 180 countries and territories and in more than 25 different languages. Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and the United Kingdom all will have crews on-site for the game.

Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest day for consumption of food and drink for Americans, behind Thanksgiving Day!

The most consumed foods are dips and spreads, followed by chicken wings and pizza. Americans will consume an estimated 50 million cases of beer on Super Bowl Sunday! (I wonder how many people call in sick to work on Monday?!)

I really enjoy the commercials, the sneak peaks have not yet disappointed – I look forward to seeing what other great ones will be highlights this year.

And of course let’s not forget the food! This year in our house we narrowed our menu to four items: the classic spinach dip (my Hub’s favorite), a Black and Blue pizza (steak and blue cheesey goodness, you know how much I love pizza), veggies with an onion dip, and BBQ Pulled Pork Pepper Poppers that looked amazing when they were featured on Good Morning America.

BBQ poppers

What snacks will you be preparing for the Super Bowl? Do you have a favorite commercial yet?

Flat Iron Fun Fact Friday

I know, I know, it is Saturday, but I wanted to still bring you a fun fact. I have been in a suburb of Chicago for the last several days as a Nebraska representative of the North Central NELD (National Extension Leadership Development) program. Our meeting location has had some pretty amazing food, and one evening the Flat Iron Steak was an option.


Did you know the Flat Iron (aka Top Blade Steak) was discovered by meat scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Florida, respectively? It comes from the shoulder. The Flat Iron is also the second most tender steak based on results of shear force testing with a Warner-Bratzler, and offers a great eating experience!

If you want to learn more about the beef carcass and meat cuts check out the UNL Bovine Myology and Muscle Profiling site.


Quick reference guide on meat labeling terms

Meat labeling terms can be confusing and daunting to understand. Over the last few days I have provided information on grain-fed vs grass- fed, organic vs natural programsno added hormones or antibiotics, and humane certification programs.  I also wanted to wrap-up the meat labeling series with a user-friendly chart for you.

Quick reference guide on meat label type and attributes

This chart is designed to provide you with information needed to make the best decisions for you and your family.

Do you have questions or need more information/clarification on any of these meat labeling terms?

Why is there a hole in that steer? … Fistulated Fun Fact Friday

At UNL we have several fistulated steers which are used for research and education. Traditionally, these fistulas (also called a cannula) were inserted for research purposes. The fistula can either be on their neck (esophageal fistula) to monitor what they eat, especially when grazing to determine grazing and forage preferences OR it can be on their left side, which goes into the rumen, the largest compartment of their stomach to monitor feed and diets, ultimately making livestock rations more efficient. I talk more about ruminants (livestock with one stomach which has four compartments) here.

But today I want to introduce you to the UNL Mobile Beef Lab!

The Mobile Beef Lab, if you see us on the road be sure and wave – we are a friendly bunch!

There are actually two of these labs in Nebraska, with the intent to educate! Each lab has one steer and a team of Educators. The Educators all have livestock backgrounds, so they know their way around an animal and a trailer. Additionally, everyone on the teaching team has been IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) certified. Every University that does research or education with animals will have an IACUC Office and people who regulate all use of these animals. The primary purpose is to ensure that the animals are well cared for; are not in pain or danger; and are being provided the best possible care at all times. To learn more about IACUC at UNL check out this page.

These labs go to schools, fairs, festivals, and other community events. When we take the lab out we talk about microbiology, ruminant nutrition, food production, forage resource management, anatomy and physiology, animal care, and more! And the best part…you can put your arm through the hole to reinforce what you learned!

Heather helping a student understand what he is feeling inside the rumen.

At schools we can set up microscopes. Students have a chance to remove a small portion of the rumen fluid and look at it under a microscope to see all of the microorganisms and their activity!

The microscope can be set up in the trailer for close convenience…
…or it can be set up in a classroom as Steve is assisting with here.

The Mobile Beef Lab is an excellent way to start conversations. We have been to some great places with it, such as –

Husker Harvest Days near Grand Island, Nebraska.
The Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island, NE.
And Werner Park for a baseball game near Omaha, NE.

So now you probably have some questions, we get asked several of the same ones repeatedly, so I will do my best to answer what you may be thinking…

Does it hurt? No, once healed it is like having an earring or a gauge in your ear. The steer doesn’t know it is there and he lives a completely normal life. He sleeps, runs, and eats just any other beef animal would. Fun fact: there are no nerve endings in their stomach, so they can’t feel our arms and hands in their rumen!

The steer eating from the bunk and hanging out with the State Fair Breeding Pavilion Heifers. He is very happy and healthy as you can see!

How was that (aka the fistula) put in? When the steer was about 500 pounds he underwent a procedure at UNL with veterinarians and veterinary students. Our teaching team was present and viewed the procedure (I didn’t think to get pictures when it happened a couple of years ago). They numbed the entire area with a local anesthetic (similar to what they would do to you at the dentist for a procedure) so he couldn’t feel anything. A small circle of the hide was removed, the muscle tissue was teased apart to get to the lining of the stomach. A small slit was cut in the lining of the stomach, and then the hide and stomach lining were stitched together. The fistula was inserted, and is a soft, pliable plastic devise that most similarly resembles a spool that thread comes on. It is larger on the inside of the stomach and the outside of the body to hold it in place. Then a plug is inserted into the middle, which comes out and goes in (it very rarely ever falls out on its own, we have to always manually removed it and put it back in) to seal up the fistula when the steer is not being used. The steer’s pain was monitored until it was completely healed.

An example of what the fistula looks like.

But I am scared to put my arm in there… There is nothing to be scared of. Our teaching team is by your side the entire time, our steer is very mellow and does this a lot. Additionally, there is nothing in there that can hurt you. It is like putting your hand into a warm bowl of soup, that is churning 🙂

How long will you keep the steer? We will keep him for years if we can. By having this procedure done the steer has become more valuable. He is also very tame, and he gets to meet lots of new people every year. As long as he stays healthy and maintains a good temperament we will keep him. We never want to put him or anyone who meets him in danger or harm.

What happens when he is harvested? When he is harvested (slaughtered) for meat, it will be like any other beef animal. The fistula will be removed and the persons who harvest him will have to be very careful that none of the rumen content gets on the carcass, so as to maintain a safe food source. He will be harvested and processed just like any other meat production animal.

What other questions 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)

Dairy product consumption…Fun Fact Friday

Did you know the average person consumes 612 pounds of dairy products a year?! The USDA indicates that we consume the most fluid milk/cream and cheese! Dairy products are high in calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Something I thought was interesting, the consumption for butter and reduced fat ice cream has increased, while fluid milk consumption has decreased.

Just for fun we pulled all the dairy products out of our fridge for a photo – how many products are in your fridge?


What is your favorite way to consume dairy products?

Bacon makes everything better! Fun Fact Friday

One of the gifts. I received for Christmas was a 2014 bacon calendar! I know pretty awesome, but it gets better. This calendar comes with recipes, fun facts, photos, and more! So today I bring you some bacon fun facts in celebration of this awesome calendar!

Starting the day with a high protein, high fat breakfast such as bacon and eggs improves metabolism and further facilitates circulation and digestion!

70% of all bacon in the U.S. is eaten at breakfast; and 59% of bacon is consumed on weekdays!

Bacon is addictive! It contains 6 types of umami, umami produces an addictive neurochemical response.

Women who are pregnant should eat bacon! Bacon contains choline which helps in fetal brain development.

Three slices of cooked bacon contains about 100 calories! And almost half of the fat in bacon is “good fat” that can help lower cholesterol (all in moderation).

The B.L.T. name came from a waitress who used shorthand to speed up orders!

I hope you know feel like a bacon whiz, I think I might go try out a new bacon recipe…or three!



Bee-utiful Honey…Fun Fact Friday

Last night a neighbor brought over several 3-pound jars of honey from bee hives on their ranch – what a treat!

A hive of bees flies over 55,000 miles to bring you one pound of honey!

A honey bee can fly 15 miles per hour. Honey bee workers must visit 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey!

Source: Agriculture Council of America (agday.org)