All living things need specific amino acids, but people can't synthesize all of them. No worries—cattle provide them by upcycling proteins from rough forage into nutrious beef.
“If you try and consume all of your amino acids or meet your amino acid requirements from a grain source like corn or sorghum, you're going to have to over consume calories. And so that'll contribute to obesity and those types of problems,” says Tryon Wickersham, Ruminant Nutritionist at Texas A&M University.
Enjoying those amino acids within the nutrient density of beef delivers more than a healthy diet.
“If we really want to look at pulling people out of poverty, one of the best things we can do is feed them well so they can get better education and then go contribute to their societies. And a challenge we have is in a lot of countries we have access to sufficient number of calories. There's ample calories available for the people, but calories don't really allow people or toddlers to grow and develop properly, ” says Wickersham.
Research shows U.S.-produced beef cattle contribute more of the proteins we need than they consume, and that kind of efficiency is good for the planet.
“The US is really efficient at producing beef. And the demand for beef is more global now than it ever has been. And so if we just said, ‘We're done. We're done producing beef, we don't like the cost of it being produced in the United States.’ People are still going to demand the beef and we might produce it somewhere else where we don't have the same controls over how the animals are produced. We can't assure product quality and safety and might actually produce more negative effects on the environment across the globe,” says Wickersham.
Quality also plays a part in sustainability – providing the beef people want with greater efficiency.
“We do know that producing those higher quality products positively contribute to the economic sustainability of the beef industry as well as helping consumers from a social standpoint, get the products they actually desire and want to consume and enjoy consuming. So I think on those two fronts you're definitely benefiting sustainability from a social and then from an economic,” says Wickersham.
Protein upcycling goes beyond nutrition. It’s an economic and sustainability benefit cattlemen can be proud of.