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What’s For Dinner?

I have never been to a Hollywood red carpet event, and wouldn’t know the first thing about making a movie. I don’t feel compelled to tell anyone how they should finance a Hollywood production or how one should act a certain part when the director shouts “Action!”. Yet the coastal elites continue to feel compelled to raise issues about farming, managing our land and livestock, and what we should be feeding our families. They are misleading new generations of consumers with false assumptions.

I do know a bit about the rural lifestyle. Both of my grandfathers were cotton farmers, my dad owned a welding shop and designed plows, I grew up in a farming community, and I married a man who knew about raising cattle. Today we run 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 beef.

Rest assured our animals are NOT in pain, diseased, or “pumped with antibiotics”, but are raising healthy offspring in a stable environment (as stable as it can be considering the crazy Texas weather). We are producers of beef steak, just as farmers who might produce corn, strawberries, or oranges.

On the subject of what’s for dinner, it’s not that simple in my reality. One son is not a fan of beef even though 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 McDonald’s, 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 needed hearty meals because we got up from the table after dinner and went back to work. Just because the clock says five, doesn’t mean all the job is done.

We depend on our environment to feed our herds. We rely on the native grasses of the Texas Panhandle, blessed with rain and sunshine that grows food for our livestock and enables us to produce nutritious beef for human consumption. We are stewards of this environment and the livestock under our care. A job we take very seriously because our pastures also sustain a variety of animals including white-tail and mule deer, bobcats, antelope, coyote, wolves, armadillos, opossums, raccoons, wild turkeys, 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, and I absolutely feed my kids the beef that we raise. The 3.2 million American farmers, ranchers and agriculture related labor force is knowledgeable and efficient. Today’s farmer grows twice as much food as his parents did.

Me: just trying to do all the things and feed all the bellies, and make it to the next week, like everyone else that I know. Life is a whirlwind and I feel confident in the choices I make for my life and my family. In the meantime, our momma cows keep doing their job, producing a healthy crop of beef.

Black Angus cattle. Texas Panhandle.

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, because it tastes good and people like it. How lucky are we to have such a wide variety of foods in this country to choose from? Dine in or dine out? 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. 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 the upcoming book, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook. With over 100 recipes, cattle drive history, archival photos, and her own Texas ranch photography, you can bring a taste of the old West to your kitchen! Available now for preorder at all online bookstores. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas series for middle grade readers and an easy reader series about rescue horses.