The Nebraska and California Beef Councils recently collaborated on a program to provide culinary dietitians with a taste of beef production practices set in the ranching communities of Napa and Sonoma County California. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ conference focused on the link between nutrition, cooking and the enjoyment of food.
“Beef has a unique and versatile culinary appeal,” said Mitch Rippe, Director of Nutrition for the Nebraska Beef Council. “We wanted to showcase those aspects, but also hear from the farmers and ranchers who produce our beef to learn how the nutritious and responsibly-raised product gets to our table.”
The program began with an interactive session entitled Plates and Palates. The Plates and Palates presentation included beef cut identification, an interactive taste and flavor session, and suggestions on creating nutritious meals with beef. The session was led by Chef Laura Hagen, Senior Director of Culinary and registered dietitian Erin Weber, Associate Director of Health Communications Outreach, both from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. Subject matter was delivered via a carcass diagram with retail cuts of beef and appropriate cooking methods, a hands-on exploration of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami (savory) and fermented with umami-rich beef and tastings of two checkoff-developed recipes to show how beef fits in a balanced and healthy dietary pattern.
“It was so nice to talk to a group of foodies who were really interested in the beef umami tasting exercise,” said Hagen, who is responsible for the Beef Culinary Center and works alongside culinary staff members to implement food production, recipe testing and food photography. “Hearing what attendees are doing with beef in the kitchen validates the current work we’re doing testing new recipes and preparation methods like sous vide and pressure cooking.”
In the afternoon, 22 dietitians travelled to Kunde Estates, home of the Sonoma Mountain Hereford ranch. Jim and Marcia (Kunde) Mickelson, fourth generation ranchers and winegrowers, provided a tour of operations at the ranch. At the center of the discussion were the production practices that contribute to meeting a growing global beef demand while balancing environmental responsibility, social diligence, and food safety. The dietitians were provided a tour of the ranch and given a direct approach to understanding the production cycle by handling a sale bull.
Regrouping at the Kunde family winery, the dietitians were treated to a tasting of five Kunde wines. During the tasting, the group also took a walking tour of the wine caves and discussed the barrel aging process of premium wines. During the event, Rippe and Weber also led a nutrition presentation on the health aspects of lean beef.
“We are helping people to learn more about their food, not just about the nutrients in it, but how all the hard work and efforts by our farmers and ranchers contribute to the high quality, nutritious beef we all enjoy.” As the trusted health and nutrition resource, consumers look to registered dietitians to help them in choosing and selecting the most beneficial foods to feed their families, Rippe said. “Therefore, it is important that we provide dietitians the opportunity to join us in the production experience, so they can see and understand the direct correlation between beef production and beef nutrition.”