PHOENIX - U.S. consumers have nothing to gain (and potentially a lot to lose) by taking the advice of Bruce Friedrich. Recently Friedrich has been traveling to college campuses spurring debates with students about animal agriculture in relation to the environment and animal care. He argues that vegetarianism is an ethical imperative. Talking about what is right and what is not, there is some information that needs to be set straight.

Contrary to Friedrichs claims livestock operations benefit the environment. Cattle ranchers livelihood is closely connected to preserving a healthy, safe and clean environment for food production. Not only do cattle ranchers manage the lands, water and plant health, but their efforts also positively affect wildlife. A California based study (Conservation Biology) shows cattle grazing plays an important role in maintaining the wetland habitat necessary for some endangered species.

Recently a group of Arizona teachers were taken on a week-long tour of Arizonas diverse agriculture operations. At the end of the week one of the participants who teaches sustainability at a University said, I˜m glad to see that there are still people paying attention to the signs of the earth and maintaining the balance thats ever so important for continued productivity. Another teacher remarked, One of my biggest misconceptions were about the ranchers; they are the true stewards of the land and the environment.

In addition to caring for the environment, cattle ranchers are in the business of caring for animals. Providing an optimal environment for cattle with ample food, water and health care is the right thing to do and creates the ideal setting for them to grow. Another teacher from this trip said, The one thing that Id say about this week that Ive come to know is passion. People in this industry really love what they do and they care for their animals. This is easy to learn when you see hardworking families passing on the tradition of caring for their animals from one generation to the next. It is not just their family that gains from increased productivity as a result of great animal care, but yours as well. Consumers can expect and enjoy safe, healthy and wholesome beef.

Nutritionally, think of beef as natures best tasting multivitamin. It is a naturally nutrient rich source of 10 essential nutrients that are needed for optimal health through all stages of life. More great news is that there are 29 cuts of beef that meet the governments guidelines for lean. What this means for those of us who are keeping an eye on our calorie count, is that a serving of lean beef (3 ounces) provides only 154 calories. Try getting that much nutrition from 154 calories of any other protein.

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