Category Archives: Beef Facts

They have arrived!!! Beautiful, friendly and RED!

This is a day on the farm I will never forget and I hope my 3 year old doesn’t either.

First, let me share with you some history.

As I was growing up on the farm, our cattle operation consisted of a wide variety of cows my grandfather would find at the sale barn. We had tall ones, old ones, black, white, grey, red and sometimes down right mean ones. And some were a little of everything.  Grandpa had a great mind for business and he focused on how to make a quick dollar here and there to sustain the crop production side of farming.  It was admirable and it was so much fun to sit and watch him work the sale barn while bidding.

My father on the other hand was and still is equally wise for business but had a different, much longer term perspective. Dad saw the big picture and instead of a quick dollar he envisioned an operation that would fit the evolving market and sustain the beef production side of farming.  This meant investing in good genetics and creating a herd that was pure, black Angus.  It has been incredible to see this dream become a reality for both Dad and my brother.

Our hodge-podge pasture groups have transformed into healthy, black beauties who both calve well and have a much more efficient weight of gain. Dad and Ryan have built great relationships with breeders and have a good eye for the market demands.  It has changed the entire dynamic of our beef cattle operation.  We now do rotational grazing and are expanding into direct-sales with our freezer beef.  The genetics and feed have come together to fashion tender, flavorful beef that has given us returning customers year after year.  Not every year is a stellar market but with the crop production side of our farm we are able to ride it out and stay in the game.

Now, how does that lead to my big announcement today?  Well, one more fun little story.  As I shared, my dad prefers black cattle. They tend to bring a higher price in the beef industry and he simply likes the velvety look of them. I, on the other hand, prefer red cattle. Specifically Herefords (red with white faces) but any red cow will do.  When I was younger and dad began customizing our herds, he reminded me that he will never purchase a red cow.  He didn’t want me to get my hopes up.  I appreciated his honesty even though I would tease him about it year after year as the time drew near for me to begin my SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) for FFA.  I specifically had requested Hereford calves.  He again reminded me that we do not raise red cattle on our farm.

When I thought all hope was lost for my red herd, I saw my beloved Grandpa drive in pulling a goose neck trailer. He had come straight from the sale barn. I peeked in the holes of the trailer and couldn’t believe my eyes.  He had purchased, just for me, not one but five Hereford heifers. I was beyond excited. They were the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. Their white heads curled just right and they were so sweet and friendly.  I named them after my favorite childhood book series that Dad used to read to me at bedtime, “Little House on the Prairie”.   Laura, Mary, Cary, Grace and Nellie (she truly was a little ornery) were here to stay on our farm.

Every time I think back to that day and those heifers I wish I could try one more time to convey to my late grandfather how much it meant to me.  The funny thing is, I hand fed those babies into large cows and we bred them to one of our black Angus bulls. My dad again didn’t want me to get my hopes up so cautioned me that their calves would be black and white. The black is almost always the dominant gene. Guess what I did? I prayed. Yep, I prayed about cows. I asked God to please bless me with at least one red and white calf from my sweet heifers.  He answered this farm girl’s prayer in a big way. Four out of the five heifers calved and more than one was red and white!   I love how God cares about the small stuff and gave us all something to chuckle about for years to come.

Now,  15+ years later, my dad and brother informed me that we were purchasing a group of red Angus cows and one of them even looked like a Hereford!  Once again, I couldn’t believe it.  They were almost sheepish in telling me.  It was great. They do have very logical reasons in making this purchase. It wasn’t really about my hair preference.  You see, red cattle do not get as hot as black cattle so they will not be spending every warm day huddled under the trees.  What’s the big deal in that you may ask?  A few main issues arise when they spend a majority of their day under trees. It makes it harder to check them and their calves, fly control is nearly impossible and it doesn’t spread out the manure over the pasture to naturally fertilize the grass. We rely heavily on healthy, well maintained pastures since a majority of our cattles’ lives are spent on grass.  So the red really does have an efficiency value, not just a photogenic aspect.

I’ve waited weeks for these girls to be delivered with their new calves.  As I was rushing around feeding breakfast to my daughters and getting us ready for a trip to town my husband walked in the door, knowing I would be very excited, and informed me that my red herd was finally on the way!!! I quickly dressed the girls, grabbed my camera, thanked God and ran out the door just in time to see the trucks drive in pulling goose-necks full of the most beautiful red headed creatures you have ever seen. Okay, so maybe the most beautiful red headed cows and calves you have ever seen.

They have been well fed, worked with and loved by the Swallow family. We will do our best to carry on that same affection.  I keep looking out the window grinning and wishing my grandpa could see them. Enjoy these first pics of their new home at Britt Farms.

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Beautiful!!! I’ll keep you posted on how they are doing and I’m sure you will see many more pics in the days to come on our Facebook page! Today was one for the books!

Love always,

Kara

Yes, Daniel Tiger, beef is healthy!

My two year old is a huge fan of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and I have to admit, I’m fond of the show myself. We often sing the opening song together…

“It’s Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the land of make believe….won’t you ride along with me? Ride a-looong….won’t you ride along with me?!”

Of course, it is reminiscent of my days watching Mister Roger’s Neighborhood as a child. The writers have done a remarkable job blending the two shows and carrying on Mr. Roger’s values.  I credit Daniel Tiger for getting us through the “potty training setback” with the creative song and instructions when Daniel and Prince Wednesday learned to use the potty. “If you have to go potty, STOP and go right away…flush and wash and be on your way!”   It was also Daniel Tiger who taught us to “clean up, pick up, put away” with a another catchy tune we could all sing and our neighborhood tiger even explained why big storms don’t have to be scary as long as you are safe inside with a grownup. Our daughter eats these lessons up like they are the gospel truth. That’s why when Mrs. Tiger made veggie pizza and also veggie spaghetti my eye brows went up.

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Daniel Tiger, Miss Elaina and Mrs. Tiger eating their veggie spaghetti. Photo credit: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Children’s Show

I’m all for teaching our children to eat healthy, take care of their bodies and to help them receive good nourishment. Which is why it bothers me that they leave beef out of the picture.

Angela Santomero is the Creator, Executive Producer and Head Writer of this new favorite show of ours and I recently read her reasoning behind this “healthy” eating focus. Here is what she said,

Since the Tiger Family was dining at a restaurant, I got to choose what my four year old little Daniel Tiger would order to eat. So, what did Daniel order? Pizza? Burger? Chicken fingers?

Daniel ordered grilled chicken and broccoli.

Then I got THE notes.“This is not what real kids eat. We should show him eating like a normal four year old.”

First of all, Daniel is a tiger.

Second of all, I have millions of children and parents every day learning and (hopefully) modeling what our characters do. We carefully test our episodes to maximize learning of our life lessons curriculum. If making a good food choice is not a major life lesson, then I don’t know what is.

(Excerpt from Modeling Healthy Eating Habits by Angela Santomero)

Both of her arguments completely fall apart at the seams and here’s why. First of all, she is correct Daniel IS a tiger. No, she cannot have the tiger tearing into a zebra on children’s animated television. However, she also can’t say that is it the reason he is isn’t eating like a “normal” 4 year old when she is trying to get all “normal” 4 year old children to eat like Daniel Tiger. Her argument is a never ending circle. If she wants to argue that he is a tiger and not human then why does it matter what he orders to eat? Oh, that’s right, because he is modeling what a human child SHOULD eat. Then wait, he isn’t just a tiger is he? No, he’s a role model for young minds.

Which leads to her next argument. I agree with the premise on this one. Making a good food choice is a valuable life lesson. Which is why we should be HONEST with children and teach them all of the health benefits available to them through their food. Did you know that if Angela would have added beef to her vegetable rich spaghetti, little Daniel Tiger and Miss Elaina would have received much needed protein and iron to strengthen their muscles and blood flow, vitamins B6 and B12 to help their growing brain functions, Zinc for their immune systems, Phosphorus which helps build strong and healthy teeth, Selenium which helps protect cells from damage and Riboflavin to give them the fuel and energy their active bodies need? And that’s just SOME of the health benefits of beef. There are several more! I understand her wanting to introduce kids to new foods and focus on food groups they might not want to eat very often, but why leave beef out altogether?

Some parents may ask, “But what about the fat content?”

All lean beef cuts have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5 oz cooked serving. Some cuts of beef are as lean as a 3 oz skinless chicken thigh!  When I brown our hamburger (raised on our farm) I rarely have to drain off any extra juice or grease. We have corn-fed beef and it is still lean and heart healthy!

“But what if  my child only eats beef if it’s covered in gravy or cheese?”

So I’m assuming based on that argument that we are only feeding kids chicken that hasn’t been fried or covered in gravy or cheese?  :) What if they ate the cheeseburger or roast beef with gravy and cut down on the potato chips and only had one cookie after dinner?  How about we teach our kiddos that vegetables, ALL meats, cheeses and carbs are HEALTHY! Even dessert is a fun treat!  Maybe the life-lesson on children’s television and also around the dinner table should be that it’s all about self-control, listening to our bodies and not over eating anything, including vegetables. I would love to see Angela use her creativity to mesh the food groups together and represent ALL farms and the gifts they bring to the table. Maybe they could even visit their local farmer’s market and come home with conventional corn-fed beef, all-natural chicken, organic veggies, fresh eggs and buttery homemade bread along with a scoop of homemade ice cream and share the importance of the nutrients and safe ingredients found in each food group. Maybe, just once, a television show could praise ALL of America’s bountiful harvests and brag on the safety and health of our food! Now that would be a “major life lesson” worth watching!

 

Ready to introduce beef at the table? Here’s an easy, kid-approved recipe thanks to my dear friend and mother of 4, Cindi Glenn! I think Daniel Tiger would LOVE it! :)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb browned hamburger
  • 1 packet Ranch Dip seasoning
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese
  • 6 tortillas

Directions:

  1. Brown your hamburger and stir in the packet of ranch seasoning until it is well mixed.
  2. On a George Foreman grill or your handy, lightly sprayed skillet, lay out one tortilla and cover it with a nice layer of browned, Ranch flavored beef.
  3. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and cover with another tortilla.
  4. Cook until cheese is melted and quesadilla is heated through.
  5. Repeat process 2 more times or until you run out of ingredients!
  6. Serve with sour cream or salsa and enjoy!!!

 

Post written by Kara Edwards of Beef Stew with a Twist

 

 

 

 

Michelle Obama’s “Red Meat Secret”

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During Growth Energy’s Executive Leadership Conference held in Orlando following the Daytona 500, Randy and I were attending the reception and watching the live auction when he noticed we were standing a few feet behind the table where Iowa’s Governor Terry Branstad and his wife and son were seated. Randy went on to enlighten me on the fact that Gov. Branstad is the longest nonconsecutive serving governor in the nation and that he has been a tireless supporter of ethanol. (Just ask Sen. Cruz about that.) I nodded like wives do and continued watching the stage where The Bachelor star Chris Soules, American Ethanol driver Austin Dillon and Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway were helping the sponsors by “Amping” up the auction. As the three hunks were hamming it up on stage, the Governor stood up and looked around, walked over to where we were standing, introduced himself and began visiting with us. His sincere and friendly demeanor made me realize why Iowans elected him to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1972, 1974, and 1976, then as Iowa’s lieutenant governor in 1973. He was Iowa’s longest-serving governor, from 1983 to 1999, weathering some of Iowa’s worst economic turmoil, during the farm crisis of the ’80’s, while helping lead the state’s resurgence to a booming economy in the 90’s.  Following his four terms as governor, he went on to serve as president of Des Moines University for a six-year tenure. Seeing a need for change in the way state government operates and wanting to “lead Iowa’s comeback”, Branstad retired from DMU, began campaigning and  was re-elected governor in November of 2010 and again in 2014.

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Randy Britt, of Britt Farms with Iowa Governor, Terry Brandstad at the Growth Energy’s Executive Leadership Conference

There we were attending an outdoor barbecue at Whispering Creek Farm on the property of the J.W. Marriott Hotel and visiting with the nation’s longest serving governor. Party lights were strung across the rustic tables and candles flickered in lanterns hanging from trees with the mouth-watering aromas of beef brisket, chicken and pork and roasted on open flame grills and tempting deserts of cobblers and puddings beckoned. There was even a campfire for the fanciest s’mores I’ve ever seen.

I asked the governor if he had enjoyed his dinner. He smiled and said, “I had dinner in the White House last night. It was a banquet for the nation’s governors. I was fortunate enough to be seated at the First Lady’s table.”

I was visiting with someone who had eaten a meal with Michelle Obama, the woman who has changed school lunches and had a very different definition of “healthy” foods than most dietitians I have heard comment.

I gasped!

“What was it like?” I asked.

The kind governor must have thought I meant the ambiance or the decor because he answered, “The centerpieces were huge” and I don’t remember what else he said.  As soon as I could I tried again I asked,

“What was on the menu?”

“We had seafood as an appetizer.”

I nodded. Yes, I would expect that from the woman whose priority was taking red meat out of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.  The guidelines that would be used in every hospital, school and government office that receives federal revenue.

I held my breath and my tongue.

The Governor continued.

“And we had beef for the main course.”

With great self-control, I made sure I had heard him correctly. “Mrs. Obama served beef at the banquet?”

The kind and patient Governor nodded and added. “There was dessert, too, but I didn’t eat that. I have to be careful about my sugar intake since my parents had diabetes. He went on, not once disparaging the First Lady’s diet, merely stating the truth of the matter. “It is not harmful to eat small portions of red meat.”

Thank you, Governor Branstad! And thank you, Mrs. Obama for serving red meat in the White House. As a former hospital administrator, the First Lady surely recognizes the dietary value of red meat after all!

– Karla Britt, wife of Randy, mother, grandmother, blogger for Beef Stew with a Twist and staff writer at CV News Press.
P.S. Need a new beef recipe to try? Check out our recipes section on the blog!
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No, I have never milked a cow. Yes, I am an American farm girl.

Nearly every time I share with a non-agribusiness person about our family farm, I am asked the following question immediately, “Did you wake up early to milk cows?”

No, I did not. I did, however, wake up early to take buckets of corn out to my beef calves. Does that make me a unique farm girl?

No, it does not.

97% of today’s farms are family owned and operated. There are more than 2.1 million farms in the US (Ag Census.USDA) and out of that 2.1 million only 47,000 are dairy farms (Dairy Management, Inc).

You have a much higher chance of meeting a farm girl who showed pigs or goats in 4-H, than one who has milked a cow on her farm.  Before you feel bad for ever asking a farm kid that question though, please know that you are not alone in your thinking.  Have you ever opened a child’s coloring book about farm animals?  Rarely have I found a cow that wasn’t white with black spots (a Holstein dairy cow) or at least didn’t have a farmer knelt beside it primed for milking.  Has your child brought home an assignment from school about agriculture and it had a cow on the page? What did it look like? My guess is a dairy cow. Here’s what happened when my adorable farm girl niece was asked to color her assignment page in 1st grade…

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It was seriously a very proud moment for all of us. Definitely Facebook worthy!

A couple of months ago an exciting food chain opened up only an hour away. I have been a loyal customer of this chain ever since we moved to Louisville back in 2009. However, once we moved back to the farm I no longer had access to that rich southern sweet tea, perfectly breaded chicken nuggets or peanut oil fried tators. That all changed when one opened recently in Columbia. I have visited three times already and my taste buds were satisfied. I was treated with such gracious hospitality and they even offered free mouth wash in the bathroom which was perfect for my niece who was headed to an orthodontist appointment.  Yes, I’m talking about Chick-Fil-A. Their “eat more chicken” slogan doesn’t offend me as a cattle producer because I support all farmers. What does offend me though is that they use the wrong breed of cow to promote their chicken! If I was served a steak from a Holstein I would “eat more chicken” as well! Thankfully, I’ve only been served tender, mouth watering black Angus steaks. The breed American’s prefer for their choice of red meat. My brother thinks it’s just funny they have to use a cow to sell their menu.




One last example to prove that we do have a problem, Houston, comes from an incident on my husband’s iPad last night.  He was lovingly showing our toddler some cute animal videos to entertain her while I made dinner and she asked to see the one about a cow.  This comes as no surprise because she has been “mooing” since she was 9 months old and daily she asks to go out to see the cows. While watching the video together my husband realized it wasn’t just a cute cartoon, it was actually supposed to be educational. Great! It’s rare to find agricultural education on the toddler level. However, as they watched together he heard them rattle off what a cow is used for such as milk, caramel, cheese….NO BEEF!  Beef was not even mentioned when listing what a cow is used for! You may be asking right now if this is really that big of a deal….. ummmm, yes! Not just for our livelihood but for your health.

You see, beef accounts for iron, vitamins, protein and essential nutrients that are vital to your family’s health.

“Beef is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and very good source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, selenium, zinc, and phosphorus. It is also a good source of choline, pantothenic acid, iron, potassium, and vitamin B2.” – www.whfoods.com (World’s Healthiest Foods)

Please, do yourself and your kids a favor and print out the included coloring sheet for them to work on while you cook up a delicious beefy meal and explain to them that a majority of cattle are used for beef and they taste yummy! Praise God for beef!

Fun Farm Facts Coloring Page on Cows (click me!)

Need a beefy new recipe? Try our family favorite, Cheeseburger Soup!

Enjoy!

Blessings,
Kara

 

 

Pizza

Choose Your Battles Wisely

Last month a group of us went through a “detox” together. The 8-day challenge consisted of a specific protein filled diet, lots of water intake and some specific supplements (shake, pills and juice).  It was grueling at times but we came out the other side with a better taste for real food and a harsh realization of the bad eating habits we had developed over time. We all managed to lose weight and did so without following one particular suggested guideline. We ate beef. That’s right.  The menu for the week suggested NO RED MEAT due to….I honestly can’t tell you what their suggestion was “due to”.  They didn’t give a reason.  Upon further investigation I found a post on their “weight loss testimony” page where someone had asked if anyone had eaten beef during the 8-day cleanse and still lost weight. More than two dozen people had quickly replied stating that YES they had eaten red meat including steak, hamburger, roast, etc. and had STILL lost weight!  Several in my group also enjoyed red meat during the diet and we lost just as much as those who stuck with chicken, fish and turkey.  This only served to confirm what we already knew…red meat is not the problem.  Our seemingly inability to say no to sugar, caffeine and carbs IS the problem.  Red meat provides specific nutrients that many diets are lacking.  The battle against red meat is untruthful propaganda attacking conventional agriculture. Will I attack the company over this? Have I mentioned their name so we can smear them as beef producers? No. At the very most I plan to send them a respectful, kind letter sharing the facts regarding beef and that we still lost the weight while enjoying red meat.

Also, the packaging of the detox supplements stated they were “GMO FREE”.   Now as conventional farmers did we send the products back when we saw the labeling?  Did we take to social media to degrade the company and seek to prove them ignorant? No, we did not.  There are MANY different opinions regarding GMO labeling, usage and marketing. You can stir up more discussion and negative tones regarding our food sources and farming methods on social media than you can about ISIS and their treatment of women and children.  Why is that? Why do we get emotionally riled up over our abundance of food choices when our time could be more wisely spent raising concerns, praying and educating others about sex trafficking, homeless people, starving children and ransacked homes?

Imagine with me for a moment what it could look like if organic farmers and conventional farmers shook hands and decided they were all in it together.

Andy Barr wrote this in 2008 for Famers Weekly,

“GM may horrify organic advocates, but it could (after a rigorous testing and approval process) reduce chemical and fertilizer inputs and deliver health benefits. And wouldn’t a splash of glyphosate reduce organics’ carbon footprint?”

And you know what? That’s exactly what GM (genetically modified) seed has done. It has created a way for farmer’s to use LESS CHEMICALS!

Can we shake hands? I’m not talking about some happy place over the rainbow. I’m talking about the attacks on one another ending. I’m suggesting we recognize that each method has a place in this world and that we can support one another. We can agree to disagree for the sake of the bigger picture.  One method provides opportunities for families in the cities to watch how a seed comes forth from the soil, how the soil content matters and how that plant can produce a delicious tomato. This movement called “organic farming” has created roof top gardens in the middle of New York City. It has provided another option at the grocery store and it has given job opportunities through weekend Farmer’s Markets to those who longed for an environmental occupation.  On the other hand, conventional agriculture continues to feed millions upon millions of families across the globe through their effective and safe methods.  Family farms have been able to stand the test of time thanks to these proven techniques and people are given a healthy yet more affordable option in each city. We can argue if GMOs are safe. We can argue if not killing the bugs, worms and diseases on the plants is safe.  What we can’t seem to argue about it is how to best support one another in agriculture. We each have our markets. There is room for both parties under the same tent.

Still not convinced?  Check out Unfounded Frankenfood Fears by Steve Forbes, Editor-In-Chief Forbes Magazine.  In this article he states,

“One shudders to think of the global misery that would have ensued had these forces (antiprogress extremists) been around in the 1960s, when Norman Borlaug spearheaded the breakthroughs dubbed the Green Revolution, which enormously increased crop yields, particularly in India. There and elsewhere more than a billion lives were saved, people who would otherwise have been lost to hunger.  Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Today he’d be attacked as an antinature technomonster.”

Let’s choose our battles wisely.

The other night my mom made this flavorful, “clean”, pizza!  May be a great addition to your weekend menu! Below is her recipe. Bon appetite!

 

Garden Pizza

Pizza

 

  • Crust of your choice (I like Food Nanny’s)
  • Roll out crust to fit 16 inch pizza pan
  • Layer with:
  • Drizzle with olive oil (rosemary or basil infused is good!)
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese slices
  • Hamburger, cooked and crumbled
  • Fresh arugula leaves
  • Fresh basil
  • Cherry tomatoes (or whatever you have)
  • Drizzle with more olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Bake in hot oven (475*  5 – 10 minutes)