One insightful and one spiteful news items have been the talk of BEEF's staff these last two weeks. The first is a video series depicting Temple Grandin, the latter a New York Times article bashing meat production. Here's why:

BBC's Temple Grandin video series (available on YouTube; www.youtube.com/results?search_query=temple+grandin&search=Search) details how this animal behavior guru came to be. The extensive four-part video (broken into 10-min. segments) also sheds light on autism -- a brain developmental disorder that impairs social interaction and communication -- which has seen an increase in diagnosis since the '80s.

Grandin -- named one of BEEF's Top 40, and National Hog Farmer's 2007 Masters of the Pork Industry award -- is inarguably the most accomplished and well-known autistic person in the world. In case you're not familiar with YouTube, it's a website where anyone can upload and watch digital video.

Second is Sunday's New York Times article, "Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler," by Mark Bittman. In the commentary, Bittman blasts meat consumption, stating "Like oil, meat is subsidized by the federal government. Like oil, meat is subject to accelerating demand as nations become wealthier, and this, in turn, sends prices higher. Finally -- like oil -- meat is something people are encouraged to consume less of, as the toll exacted by industrial production increases, and becomes increasingly visible." His reasons span everything from global beef demand, Brazil's deforestation, increasing production capacity and factory farms to water quality and methane emissions from cattle.

"Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens," Bittman writes.

Solutions he offers include: better waste management, improved farming practices, in vitro meat production and consuming less meat. "Perhaps the best hope for change lies in consumers' becoming aware of the true costs of industrial meat production," the article states.

In the office, we anticipate reaction from the National Pork Board and National Beef Cattlemen's Association, not to mention other ag industries feeling the burn from such a scathing article. To read for yourself, click here (www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=beef&st=nyt&oref=slogin). It's what's been buzzing in our offices lately.