CHARLESTON, W.Va.– The West Virginia Division of Agriculture held its annual Beef for Father’s Day event at the Capitol Wednesday and wants to remind consumers to buy local if they are planning to grill out for dad this weekend.
Beef for Father’s Day works to highlight the importance of the beef industry and its impact economically, the various types of beef and the quality raised in West Virginia and what cattle farmers have to look forward to in the future.
Deputy Commissioner of the WVDA Joe Hatton said events like this help consumers learn about where they are getting their meat from.
“So this is an opportunity to go and help reach new markets in West Virginia,” he said. “We’re a small agriculture state; we’re small farmers in West Virginia, so this is a great opportunity for the consumer to know their farmer.”
Hatton said that Father’s Day is typically a holiday where people like to grill out, so promoting the campaign before the holiday weekend helps spread the word about the importance of buying local.
“A lot of times your memories of Dad is at the grill, grilling a nice steak and that preparation for Sunday dinner,” he said.
There are 21 WVDA inspected commercial meat and poultry establishments in West Virginia which makes finding local meats fairly easy for consumers. Lacy Davidson is a project coordinator for the Department of Agriculture and said that there are other ways to find out who is selling local meat near you.
“Some people can just go to church or go to their employer and notice that other people around them are farmers and are raising beef, so that’s another way to find out. So, I think just asking questions is a great way to start the conversation to find out, because it’s not always broadcasted loud and wide,” she said. “But, just starting with a local processor or just asking friends and family works.”
According to Davidson, buying locally actually increases the quality and can decrease the price of the beef being purchased.
“The number one thing is quality. It’s, of course, a much better product,” she said. “It’s not travelling thousands of miles to get to you. Normally, the price point is less, as well. If you’re buying from your neighbor or farmer friend down the street, he’s probably going to cut you a better deal than if you go to the grocery store and pay by the cut.”
While some people worry about the nutritional value of red meat, Davidson is also a dietician and said that beef is important in your diet for many reasons.
“Over the years it’s gotten a really bad rap; that it’s high in saturated fat and high in cholesterol and all of that was based on a lot of not-really-strong science. We know now that it’s a rich source of a lot of different vitamins and minerals,” she said. “It’s a great source of protein, and the marbling in meat is where you find those really good omega-3’s. It’s a nutrition powerhouse in my opinion.”
One thing consumers should keep in mind is that grass-fed beef is typically healthier than beef that isn’t, and most West Virginia beef is grass-fed. Eating this type of meat can be very beneficial.
“If it’s a grass-fed beef, it’s going to have more of those omega-3 fatty acids than a piece of salmon that you might get from the Atlantic or Pacific,” Davidson said.
This weekend if beef is on the menu at your house, Hatton said to go with a local cut for the best flavor.
“This is an opportunity this weekend to enjoy West Virginia beef on the grill for Father’s Day,” he said.
Story by Jordyn Johnson