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What’s For Dinner?

Recently The Ellen Show raised some good points about eating healthier. But menu planning is not that simple in my reality.

One son is not a fan of beef and we are beef producers. Hubby refuses to eat “nasty chicken”, but I love Chic-Fill-A (rated the #1 fast-food in America in a recent survey). Another son loves the dollar menu at McDonalds, and sometimes makes a late-night run if he’s out and about after dinner (yeah, I know.). I usually fry something because that’s what my mom and grandmother did. And just like them, meat is on the menu because I come from a family who got up from the table to go back to work after dinner. Just because the clock said 5:00 did not mean all the chores were done.

We own a cow/calf Angus herd on 22,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle. On a voluntary basis, we pay a fee and agree to an inspection as part of the Where Food Comes From program, raising all-natural, age verified, hormone free animals for you, the consumer. Please rest assured they are NOT in pain, diseased, or “pumped with antibiotics”, but raising healthy offspring. We depend on our environment to feed our herds. We rely on the native grasses of the Texas Panhandle blessed with rain and sunshine to grow food for the cows which enables us to produce nutritious beef for human consumption. We are stewards of this environment, a job we take very seriously, because it also sustains a variety of animals including white-tail and mule deer, bobcats, antelope, coyote, wolves, and too many birds to mention in this one blog.

Cows now thrive on the grassy plains of the Texas Panhandle, once inhabited by the American Bison at an estimated 30-60 million prior to 1600, in addition to a abundance of other wildlife.

We have white-collar-technology blessed with blue-collar to-do-lists, spending time behind a desk AND outside doing manual labor. Meals have to be hearty and filling for my guys, if and when I get a chance to cook. I got home at 9:00 PM last night starving. Lunch had been a protein bar on the run, dinner was coffee at a meeting, so when I got home I scarfed down a bowl of cheerios and just happened to see leftover pizza as I reached for the milk. Thanks to the hullabaloo this week, I did pause to think about my choices. Instead of eating that slice of cold pepperoni pizza, why didn’t I grab a handful of carrots or a lowfat yogurt? I gave up my daily Dr. Pepper fix ages ago. And yes, I do buy fresh produce, but meal planning is crazy around here. I’ll probably end up tossing the lettuce after it wilts, but hopefully someone will notice the grapes and nectarines I washed and sat on the counter.

Me: just trying to do all the things and feed all the bellies, and make it to the next week, just like everyone else that I know. Life is a whirlwind.

Black Angus cattle. Texas Panhandle.

In the meantime, these momma cows keep doing their job, producing a healthy crop of beef, and Registered Angus Bull genetics play a part as well.

One steer produces about 24 roasts, 28 T-bone steaks, 10 sirloin steaks, 28 rib-eyes, 8 filet mignons, 12 round steaks, as well as short ribs, several briskets, stew meat, and 150 pounds of ground beef.

One hide from that steer produces enough leather for 18 shoes or 20 footballs or one comfy, bucket seat in a luxury car.

Cow leather is the most widely used source of leather around the world because of its durability.

Your favorite restaurant probably has meat on the menu, and that’s because meat. Tastes. GOOD. How lucky are we to have such a wide variety of foods in this country to choose from? Meat or no meat? It’s really up to you.

Big shout out to the growers, harvesters, farmers, ranchers; all who work hard to produce the food we consume. Yes, I could do better in making healthier choices and as a parent, it is a constant concern. But no matter how heartfelt the message from Hollywood, I’m not giving up my cheeseburger or my BBQ pork ribs, and I’ll take my diced green peppers, onions, and squash with a rib-eye, medium rare.

All pics by N. Bright.

Natalie Bright is the author of a western adventure series for kids, an easy reader series about rescue horses, and she is currently working on a book about cattle drives and chuckwagons, to be released in September 2020.