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Redwood Falls cattleman promotes beef at grocery stores

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 04/25/2013 7:03 PM

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REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — Mark Malacek normally goes to Tersteeg's to get groceries, but last week, he was greeting customers at the door.

The Redwood Falls cattleman was in his hometown store to promote beef. He wasn't alone.

Conrad Kvamme prepared flat iron steak samples near the meat case.

Kvamme, who works with the Midwest Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Program and coordinator for special projects at the Minnesota Beef Council, visits customers in 20 to 30 stores per year to talk with customers about beef products and cattle production.

Such events are important, said Malacek, a director on the council. Store appearances create dialogue between producers and consumers and presents an opportunity to talk about the healthy attributes of beef.

Kvamme prepared the next steak for grilling. A little olive oil and seasoning was placed on the flat iron steak, which is one of the industry's newest meat cuts.

After a few minutes on the grill the steak was cut into bite-sized portions. Customers flocked to the table waiting their turn to try the steak.

"People are coming in and their tastebuds are working," Kvamme said. "As they pick up a sample, you can talk to them about beef. It's a place where you can educate the public and help the store to sell the product."

Often questions turn to beef production. Some ask how farmers really treat animals. Others have asked Kvamme if a mean animal will taste different than a nice one.

Each question is answered. Kvamme's easy-going manner puts people at ease. He takes time to talk to people.

It's also a win-win for the store, said Bruce "Curly" Garrison, Tersteeg's meat manager

"We hand cut everything," he said. "It's not injected with anything. It's all natural. The beef we carry is all top of the line."

The flat iron steak is available at the store.

"You wouldn't think there would be any other meat cuts, but the staff at National Cattlemen's Beef, with their kitchen staff and nutritionists, have a lot of enthusiasm for the product," said Malacek.

That carries to the store. Tersteeg's takes a top sirloin, cuts the cap off the top and cuts that across the grain. The final offering is a top sirloin finger steak.

Meat department staff learn about the cuts and meat preparation through seminars featuring people from the beef industry.

Kvamme points to research that finds growing evidence that lean beef, trimmed of visible fat, can be part of a balanced diet that doesn't increase heart disease risk. A nine-month clinical trial also suggests lean red meat can be part of a cholesterol-lowering diet.

As Kvamme ends his work late in the afternoon, he talks about the next store that he'll visit in a few weeks. No matter if its Roseau or Worthington, he'll be prepared with his little grill, seasonings and brochures.