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000148 Ostrich Producers Want Letterman to Be Front Man

January 30, 2000

Washington - Ostrich producers, wanting U.S. consumers to get their heads out of the sand and eat more ostrich meat, said Wednesday they think they've found their ultimate representative -- CBS talk show host David Letterman.

Letterman, 52, was released from a New York hospital last week, five days after undergoing quintuple-bypass heart surgery to clear a major blockage in one of his arteries.

The American Ostrich Association thinks that “The Late Show” star should stay healthy by eating a diet of ostrich meat, which it says has less fat than the other red meats.

The group is offering Letterman a year's supply of ostrich meat and cooking lessons so the comedian can soon be eating a number of delicacies, including “ostrich steak with balsamic vinegar and honey,” “honey-glazed ostrich shish- kebabs” and “ostrich and tortellini soup.”

“What we would like to do is to get ostrich in the eyes of the consumer and primarily in the eyes of the people with health problems,” AOA President Dr. Amy Raines said.

Raines said she has not heard back from Letterman's staff.

U.S. ostrich farmers produced more than 1.6 million pounds of ostrich meat in 1998, double the amount produced the year before, Raines said. U.S. ostrich consumption has also jumped, in part due to the growing popularity of ostrich leather.

The typical U.S. ostrich meat eater is educated, makes more than $65,000 a year and dines out a lot. About an equal amount of men and women eat ostrich meat but men are more likely to eat it in restaurants whereas women are more likely to cook it at home, Raines said.

According to the association, an ostrich steak at a restaurant sells for up to $35 per-dinner, while ground ostrich can be purchased for $6 per-pound, costs that Raines says are comparable to high-end beef prices.


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