Sirloin or tenderloin? Is steak good for you? How does the care of ranch animals affect the taste and marketability of beef cuts?

Those are a few of the questions that can be answered through a new program supported by the South Dakota State University Extension Office that gives beef producers and consumers a chance to learn more about their favorite meat.

Created under the umbrella of the National Beef Checkoff program, the SDSU "Beef University" allows interested people to learn about beef from their convenience of their home computers.

The free program is geared more toward the state's many ranchers and beef producers, who are generally located in West River South Dakota. But consumers — or anyone with even a passing interest in beef and cattle — can learn a lot by signing up for the curriculum.

"This is an excellent learning opportunity for beef producers to learn more about the product they produce," said B. Lynn Gordon, assistant professor and SDSU Extension agricultural leadership specialist. "Or, they can simply take this course to brush up on production facts, beef labeling issues, beef inspection and grading."

Each section of training lasts about 15 to 20 minutes and features a quiz at the end to reinforce the lessons located at beefu.org. Additional resources to learn more about the topic at hand will also be offered for those who want to dive in deeper.

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Gordon added that the program can also be useful to grocery retailers and those who serve beef at restaurants or in other food service venues.

Among the key topics covered will be raising beef, beef nutrition and health, basics on beef, explaining different cuts of beef, and how the modern consumer is using beef.

"With today's consumers interested in knowing more about the way agricultural products are grown, this online training program will equip anyone associated with the beef industry or other areas of agriculture, with added knowledge on the latest industry information," Gordon said.

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