NY Dietetic Interns and RDs Explore Sustainable Beef at Two Farm Tours

C. Chan-Phillips | September 16, 2019

Forty-eight dietetic interns and RDNs learned how beef is sustainably raised during two separate farm-to-fork tours, at the Thorpe Farms and SK Herefords Farms in LaFayette and Medina, N.Y. Sept 5th and 6th, respectively. The farm tours were hosted by the Thorpe family and the Keppler family, and presented by New York Beef Council (NYBC).

The attendees included RDNs and dietetic interns from Syracuse University, University at Buffalo, D’Youville College and Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The farmers led the attendees on a tour of the farm, and discussed the daily practices of caring for the cattle, the land and water. They discussed rotation grazing, how cattle improve soil health, and Beef Quality Assurance training. Dr. Mike Baker, the beef specialist from Cornell Cooperative Extension, led a discussion to clarify common misconceptions about antibiotics use. After the pasture tour,the attendees watched a beef cooking demonstration of an American Heart Association® certified heart-healthy beef recipe. They explored beef sustainability, and learned that cattle are unique in our food system because they upcycle inedible grass and plants into high-quality protein that families enjoy, which was presented by Cindy Chan Phillips, RD, director of nutrition education at NYBC. The attendees gained deeper insight about grass-fed and grain-fed beef, and participated in a taste-test to enhance their learning experience. 

The attendees were very engaging, and had a strong desire to know about cattle care and the environmental impact of beef production. The discussion continued over a nutritious lunch of beef sandwiches and salad. Survey results of participants showed a very positive shift in their view of the environmental impact of beef farming. Those who are concerned about cattle farming practices dropped from 73% to 13% after the tours.  After the tours, those who would recommend beef consumption 3 to 4 times a week increased from 10 percent to 28 percent. “Makes me more comfortable with recommending beef to clients,” an attendee expressed. “The tour settled many of my concerns regarding cattle farming,” wrote another attendee. “As future RDs and experts in nutrition, I commend them for joining us today to learn how food is grown,” said Phillips. “They will have a very busy internship year. So glad they get to enjoy a day on the pasture watching the cattle roam!” 

Phillips’ work with the NYBC is financially supported by the Kansas and Nebraska Beef Councils. For more information on the event, contact Cindy Chan Phillips, R.D.,