Talking Points of Interest to Beef Consumers

December, 2022
Lauren Butler, Livestock Agent & Director, UF/IFAS Extension Okeechobee County

We sure are spoiled! How many of us grew up eating the beef we raised ourselves? Never having to buy anything in the meat case besides “those other” protein sources that we like to support as well. I am not protein biased, I like a good chicken sandwich from chic-fil-a as well as the next person! But how blessed I was to eat the beef my family raised and fed, my entire life. It only makes sense that consumers want that same benefit.

The trend of farm-to-freezer custom-wrapped beef has happened for decades, but it recently gained more traction during the covid pandemic. It can be attributed to consumers wanting to know exactly where their food comes from and consumers’ desire to reduce the energy cost of transporting products. What I love about this trend is the opportunity to educate consumers on the benefits of eating beef and the environmental benefits of cattle production for our beautiful state.

Beef is one of the most nutrient-dense proteins while keeping the calorie count low. It provides 10 essential nutrients including Zinc, Iron, B12, Niacin, Riboflavin, Phosphorus, Choline, Selenium, B6, and Protein[1]. Here is a breakdown of the nutrients by daily value and function:

table of nutrients

It’s easy to list these nutrients and describe what they can do for the body, but to drive the point home, in a study completed in Kenya found that animal-sourced protein, such as those in meat and milk, increased school children’s exam scores by 45% compared to students who solely relied on a vegetable diet[2].

Besides the nutritional benefits of including lean beef in a healthy diet, cattle production in Florida is essential to our state’s environmental health. Ranchlands provide green space (oxygen) for residents to enjoy, carbon sequestration services, and water filtration services. Cattle are able to utilize land not suitable for crop production. Cattle can convert, not so nutrient-dense, grasses into an edible product. The grasslands serve as a water filter, cleaning the heavy nutrient loads from other areas as it moves through the watershed.

In addition to the natural resources services, ranchers provide habitat for native and endangered wildlife and plant species. Open spaces and natural environments are crucial for animals such as the Florida Panther, bald eagles, gopher tortoises, and the American alligator. Plant species such as wild orchids, ferns, and cypress trees also thrive on ranchlands.

Selling this nutritional and environmentally beneficial product is trending. If you already sell directly or are considering it, take the opportunity to educate the consumer about the healthy product they are consuming and the environmental benefits ranches provide.

[1] US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service. USDA National Nutrient Database. Pulled July 5, 2022. Website:

[2] Hulett, J. L., R. E.Weiss, N. O. Bwibo, O. M.Galal, N.Drorbaugh, and C. G.Neumann. 2014. Animal source foods have a positive impact on the primary school test scores of Kenyan schoolchildren in a cluster-randomised, controlled feeding intervention trial. Br. J. Nutr. 111:875–886.

Return to top