Summer means warmer temperatures and longer days, which in turn means barbecues fire up across Kansas. At my home, the choice for outdoor cooking will be beef and pork.
For some, beef isn’t the food of choice these days. Others believe it isn’t healthy. For a few, the jury is still out.
But be honest, have you ever thrown a couple pounds of linguine and watched it grill while you sipped a Gin Rickey?
Look closely someday, real close, and decide for yourself whether you want to take it seriously as a food source, free-range or otherwise
While I like it on occasion, it’s not robust. Not strong in flavor – unless it’s a very old fish. And if it’s so doggone good, why is it called fish?
Truth is, nothing in the animal kingdom comes close to matching the smell, sound and taste of a hamburger or steak over an open fire.
Sirloin, T-bone, porterhouse or my favorite the Kansas City strip.
Thick. Juicy. Red.
So, eat up.
While some of today’s diets have rekindled this nation’s love affair with beef, for years Americans have been eating less beef. This has resulted in a drop in income for our livestock producers.
The question has become whether the charges and concerns about red meat are scientifically sound. Dietary guidelines are supposed to tell us what we should eat for good nutrition. Depending on whose recommendations you follow today, few agree.
Today, some guidelines are overly dogmatic. They contain specific recommendations for everyone and overlook allowances for individual differences.
Our nation is made up of individuals who need to adjust their diets to allow for their own states of health, risks of chronic disease and personal tastes.
Most U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines are generally a good bet to begin with. Here goes:
*Eat two or three servings – a total of 5 to 7 ounces – daily of lean meat, poultry, fish and alternatives.
*Choose lean cuts of meat.
*Trim fat from meat before or after cooking.
*Roast, bake, broil, grill or simmer meat, poultry and fish.
*Cook meat or poultry on a rack so the fat will drip off.
To reduce sodium intake, USDA suggests eating one or two servings or less per week of cured or processed meats, such as ham, bacon, sausage, frankfurters and other luncheon meats, depending on other sources of sodium in the diet.
No matter how you cut it, all lean meats are high in nutritional quality.
Beef, pork and lamb have been recognized as good sources of top quality protein, as well as thiamin, niacin and vitamins B-6 and B-12. Red meats are also excellent sources of the trace elements iron, copper, zinc and manganese – minerals not easily obtained in sufficient amounts of diets without meat.
Well-trimmed, lean meats contain about four to nine percent fat when uncooked, according to USDA. Lean meat consists of approximately 65 percent water.
Depending on whom you talk to or where you read about it, some folks warn against too much saturated fat. The problem with this is, animal fat often is erroneously equated with saturated fat while vegetable fat is equated with unsaturated fat.
Another misconception about meat centers around cholesterol. Meat is not high in cholesterol.
Meats of all kinds, whether fat or lean, are low in cholesterol – between 70 to 90 milligrams per serving. This amount is too small to have a significant effect on the blood or serum cholesterol of most of our population, which includes those with normal blood cholesterol levels and who are not genetically likely to respond abnormally to dietary cholesterol, so says USDA.
Lean meats, eaten in moderation as part of a varied diet are not expected to become a cause of heart disease or cancer, nutritionists believe. While there will be changes in production methods and processing techniques, the beef steak, pork roast and lamb chops are here to stay.
So, fire up that grill, roll up those burger patties and drop another steak on the grill. Beef and pork taste good and they’re good for you.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas.