I could hardly believe it. There on my television screen was Mike Wallace, handing the nation a line that seemed downright incredible: If we would feed our beef only a little less grain, the grain saved would be enough to keep everybody in the world from starving. Obviously someone had gotten carried away. How many listeners would write to “Sixty Minutes” and challenge this extravagant claim? I decided that one, at least, would.

DEAR MR. WALLACE:
I could hardly believe my senses when I heard you say that if we would grain feed our beef only ten days less (causing a hardly detectable difference in the quality of the meat), we could save enough grain to preserve the lives of all the starving people in the world.
I find this almost incredible. What is your documentation? If what I heard on “Sixty Minutes” is true, it would seem to place an absolute moral obligation on Americans to save the world from starvation. I would really like to have this information, because I would certainly put it to use. If true, this information should be preached from every pulpit and proclaimed by every voice capable of speaking to the American collective conscience.

I received a prompt reply from Paul L. Loewenwarter of CBS News, the producer of “Sixty Minutes.”

DEAR MR. BALDWIN:
Mike Wallace has passed your letter on to me because I was the producer of our report on grain-fed beef.
The documentation on our story is quite simple, and it comes from readily available publications at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and confirmed by the Beef Industry Council and the American National Cattlemen’s Association.
In short, 48.3 million tons of grain of all kinds are fed to beef cattle (1973–1974) per year. UNICEF ...
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