Not only is the Canadian beef sector an economic driver, but it is also a source of nutritious and culturally-appropriate protein for Canadian consumers. Internationally as well, Canadian beef is a highly-sought after product. With beef’s ability to sustainably turn Canada’s grasslands into a food source, beef contributes to both domestic and international food security.
CCA advocates for a healthy balanced diet, which for many Canadians, can include lean meat that is high in nutrient quality but moderate in calories. Very few foods can match the nutrient density of beef. Beef is one of nature’s best sources of iron, zinc and B vitamins, all vital nutrients essential to human nutrition.
On average, fresh red meat (including beef) accounts for just 5% of our total calorie intake. The amount of beef Canadians eat is in keeping with the global recommendations from organizations like the World Health Organization. To reduce the amount of nourishing beef that women, children and aging adults eat, would leave them vulnerable to deficiencies in protein, iron, zinc and B-vitamins.
CCA supports work to increase the knowledge and implementation of healthy eating for Canadians, which includes options of healthy proteins including beef. CCA emphasizes that any development of initiatives to support healthy eating be based on balanced, scientific evidence.
Ruminants turn products that are inedible by humans into a nutrient-dense protein option. In the Canadian context, there are several examples of this at the regional and national level. Regionally, participants pointed to examples of taking food loss such as weather damaged crops, expired potatoes, apples, and other agricultural by-products (malting barley from the beer brewing process) and using these feedstuffs for feedlot cattle. At the national level, an inedible product that Canada has a natural abundance of is grass and forages. Grasslands which may be either unsuitable for crop production and/or are critical to habitat to wildlife populations are grazed and converted into a protein source. Finally, grazing livestock play an integration role and can increase the efficiency of existing systems. For example, sheep and goats graze marginal lands or orchards, thereby increasing the efficiency while ‘giving back’ in the form of manure.