jars of m and m's

M&M’s and Nanograms and Beef

Two years ago, I watched beef farmer Mike Martz explain marbling and steak selection to Chicago moms and I told anyone who would listen that it was one of the best demonstrations I’d ever seen.

Until this year.

Mike outdid himself. Last time around, he talked about hormones in steak and how a 3 oz. steak from a steer not treated with growth promotants (hormones) had 1.3 nanograms of estrogen in it; how a 3 oz. steak from a steer treated with hormones had 1.9 nanograms of estrogen in it. And then he pointed out that the baked potato sitting next to the steak contains 225 ng of estrogen. And a birth control pill? 29,400 nanograms of estrogen.

This year, he borrowed a page from Nebraska cattle feeder Joan Ruskamp, a Nebraska CommonGround volunteer. Mike took four jars, enlisting the help of his grandson, and filled each with an M&M to represent each nanogram in the following: a jar for a treated steer, an untreated steer, a baked potato and a birth control pill. And he noted the jar representing the birth control pill held 980 M&Ms…and it would take 30 jars to equal the amount of estrogen in a birth control pill.

It’s a brilliant visual and it drives home the point: you simply can’t eat enough steak to equal the amount of hormones many women take every single day in a birth control pill.

“To blame myself as a cattle producer for these two? That’s way out of line,” Mike said.

Check out the difference between those last two jars. And that’s what we’re making such a fuss about?

Originally posted on Prairie Farmer: My Generation.

Holly Spangler

About Holly

We grow about 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans and have a 100-head cow-calf herd in Marietta. We have three children: Jenna, Nathan and Caroline. Holly is an associate editor for Prairie Farmer magazine, a publication dedicated to sharing information and technology for improving both farm life and farm business.

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