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Cornell Dining is now serving local, natural beef

As of March 29, Cornell Dining began serving local, natural beef, initially using three head of cattle per week that are raised at the Cornell Research Farms in Dryden, N.Y. That equates to about 1,000 pounds of ground beef, along with 128 pounds of rib section, 108 pounds of short loin and 120 pounds of sirloin.

"This new program drastically reduces the food miles and carbon footprint Cornell Dining was experiencing under its former beef program," said Gail Finan, director of Cornell Dining.

The local beef program was started in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County and the Department of Animal Science, through funding from the New York State Farm Viability Institute.

The cattle at the Cornell Research Farms are owned by local regional farmers; the meat is processed at Leona Meats in Troy, Penn.

"We were getting our processed beef patties from a company located in the Bronx. Now with this new program, the cattle travel less than 65 miles to be processed and delivered to us," Finan said.

The beef burgers are being served in the Ivy Room in Willard Straight Hall, Bear Necessities in Robert Purcell Community Center, Trillium in Kennedy Hall and West Side Express in Hans Bethe House.

The local prime cuts of beef (sirloin, short loin, rib) will be served in Cornell Dining's all--you-care-to-eat dining rooms and Cornell Catering. Thus, the entire animal will be used, something that is often talked about but rarely demonstrated, Finan said.

All the beef is raised without hormone growth implants or daily antibiotics. Only beef breeds are being used in this program because of their efficiency, high yields and high-quality eating experience. The beef patties will be an industry standard -- 80 percent lean meat and 20 percent fat.

"This is an ongoing program that we intend to continue to grow," Finan said. "Not only is it part of our commitment to sustainability, but it will put thousands of dollars in the hands of local farmers and businesses."

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John Carberry