Beef Sustainability: Balancing Environmental, Social, and Economic Impacts

Sustainability is not a destination. It is a continuous journey being carried out by each generation of farmers responsible for raising and supplying beef across the world. To the beef community, sustainability comprises much more than environmental considerations. Today, a sustainable food supply balances efficient production with environmental, social and economic impacts. 

Let's take a look at how the beef industry continually focuses on a more sustainable food supply. 

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Sustainability Fact Sheet

beyond the Beef

Beyond delicious and nutritious steaks, roasts, and burgers, there are hundreds of uses for cattle by-products. Do you own a car, take a bus, or ride a bike? If so, you're utilizing by-products in the tires on your vehicle and the asphalt on the road. Event items that may seem trivial, such as dyes, inks, adhesives and plastics are made from cattle by-products. 


Here are a few ways in which cattle by-products touch our lives:

  • Hides from cattle are tanned into leather becoming shoes, purses and wallets. 
  • Cattle organs and glands are used in the production of medicine, insulation, and antifreeze, shampoos/conditioners and instrument strings.
  •  Photo film, vitamin capsules, charcoal and glass are all derived from bones and horns of cattle.
  •  Inedible beef fat provides us with airplane lubricants, hydraulic brake fluid, biodiesel and medicines.

food waste

Your Role in Sustainability

You also have opportunities to contribute to a more sustainable food supply. Approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted. The food an average American family wastes translated to about $2,500 per year. According to the USDA, beef is one of the least wasted foods, with 20 percent spoiled or not eaten, but that still leaves a lot of room for improvement! If beef waste were cut in half, the sustainability of the whole industry could be improved by 10 percent. Consider how you'll use leftovers and make sure your appliances are running efficiently. Also, make sure to check out our tips for safely storing and preparing beef at home.

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