Proving the Power of Beef One Race at a Time
by MATT COBBLE
For a long time, beef was considered the king of meats. A certain fast food chain once asked its competitors “where’s the beef?” A particular grocery chain proudly proclaimed themselves as “the beef people.” The Yeoman Warders, guards at the Tower of London, are commonly referred to as ‘beefeaters,’ and particularly muscular men are called ‘beefcakes.’
However, through the lens of a very fat-conscious society, the last two decades have seen a shift in the perceptions of red meat in general, and beef in particular.
In light of this mounting bad press, a group of Floridian athletes, with support from the Florida Beef Council, have set out to shift this paradigm by founding “Team Beef Florida.” These runners, cyclists, and triathletes, located around the state of Florida, compete under the name of Team Beef, unified by the belief that beef provides “fuel for the finish” to support them in their endeavors.
Team Beef is not limited to Florida. “I ran the Marine Corp Marathon in October 2015 and saw Team Beef was a sponsor/supporter,” said Erin Freel, founding member and one of two current Team Ambassadors. “I found out then they had Team Beef teams in various states. Florida didn’t have one, so I set out to get one established.” Her efforts were, obviously, successful, and Team Beef Florida came together in February of 2017.
Freel, who grew up on a cattle ranch, was an ideal candidate for Team Beef. “I grew up loving cattle and eating beef.” In her day job, Freel owns an agricultural marketing company, but that does not mean all team members have to work in the ag industry. Nicolas Blaser, who also serves as Team Ambassador, works as a commercial banker. “All of our athletes are weekend warriors,” Freel told us. “While none are professional athletes, Nicolas is a four time Ironman and has the All-World Athlete designation from Ironman. I’ve qualified for the USAT National the past two years and am an Ironman finisher. We’ve had dozens of podium finishes around the state from our athletes.”
The team attributes their success to their diet of healthy cuts of beef as their ‘fuel for the finish.’ (“Pasta is overrated,” Freel joked.) According to their website teambeefflorida.com, consuming any of the 29 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines to be considered lean (less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3-ounce serving) contributes to bone health; building muscle, which in turn may help prevent Type 2 Diabetes; and helps to maintain a healthy weight.
Although the 2018 team has been selected and have already participated in numerous events, the team has a waiting list of potential team members. Team Beef Florida members do not need to have a background in agriculture or substantial knowledge of the beef industry – just a love of eating beef! Team Beef Florida does provide their athletes with online modules in their “Master’s of Beef Advocacy” (or MBA) program, so that members have the proper talking points for conversations and social media. Other perks include a Team Beef Florida jersey and compensation for one race entry fee, provided the member completes all requirements.
Members serve a one-year term, and as long as they’ve met all requirements, may apply for a second year of membership. Aside from signing a waiver, team members must compete in at least one race/event wearing their Team Beef Florida jersey, post at least once to social media, using talking points provided in the MBA modules or the Team Beef Florida website, or posting race photos in their Team Beef Florida jersey, and lastly, complete at least one module of the MBA program — although about a third of the 2017 team completed all five modules, showing dedication to the cause.
In addition to their website, Team Beef Florida has a very active social media presence. Those interested can follow them on both Facebook and Instagram, or follow the hashtags #fuelforthefinish, #teambeef, #teamBeefFL, #powerfulprotein, and #beefitswhatsfordinner on most social media platforms.