Friday, December 23, 2011

Buying meat

Being raised on a dairy farm, we raised our own meat for the most part, what we didn't raise, we bought from the butcher, all top quality stuff. Today, the stuff we'd have fed dogs seems to be what qualifying as restaurant grade (typically they get the bit between choice and select) I prefer higher end choice, and can't justify the price fore frome unless doing a crown roast (which is mistakenly called prime rib, even if not prime beef, usually are choice or select depending on store, a certain major department store says prime, and then they are select grade, so they are just using the style to tell about the meat, and misleading the customer) Grading is based in the fat content, marbling is good. Best way to tell a good cut is find a real butcher, and ask his opinion, they won't sell you crap, due to pride. Also check the store you buy at, ask if they have someone that can cut you something special in house, a trend started by a big general retailer that really harms quality. Meat is removed from chryosealed packs that have a life of about 30 days, they open them, and slice the parts into take home containers, and seal with a cellophane label. Once removed from chryo quality falls quickly. At one meat market I worked at, we had 3 days to sell it, or it was sent back. Now this all goes on a truck in Arkansas, then travels to you. Comes off the truck goes into a back room. There it may sit 2 -5 days easy based on sales.This doesn't even get into the meds used on the cow at the farm, or how it was fed. Everyone today wants grass fed, growing up, ours at grass, and oats, and the flavor was awesome. Something else with the mass production is quality control is lower, especially at store level. I have seen people with a cart full of perishables over in tv's, and then back swapping out all the stuff that got warm from nice cold stuff. Makes me feel safe. Then they try and tell us it's better priced, but if you look at what you get a filet runs within a few cents of the place that has meat cutters, and some guys who can give clues on cooking that chunk of beef. Talk to the butcher, and ask why they are cut at certain thicknesses, and that tells why it's cooked a certain way too.
If possible buy a side of beef in the chryopack and cut it yourself, you'll save money, and the quality is much better (you may not need all the cuts, but need more burger, just grind what's left into burger. (I have done burgers from a tenderloin when nobody wanted a filet, and it was great, do have to add a little fat though to balance it out) What I am saying is please don't buy at the big box store because it's easy, buy from the local place, that has fresh, and probably a healthier version
. Something else to keep in mind is ask the meat manager what he does with returns, most places assume returns are bad, and send them back. Some say, well it was still cold so we made hamburger from it, and that is where a lot of the contaminated burger came from. As a people we need to be smarter about our purchases. Now I don't say you have to find the butcher that does this out of his barn, some regular supermarkets still cut meat. Some better than others. Just go in and talk to the butcher see what he thinks of what he has available. When I have the chance U buy at Winn-Dixie they started as a meat house, and grew the store around it. I also miss Kroger for the same reason with their meat, the cutters knew their stuff (and ia won't drive 6 hours to buy meat)


  1. Very interesting, now I'm really thinking of becoming a vegetarian. Is it safe to assume that meat bought from a 4-H sale would be better quality meat?

  2. I love getting meat at the meat markets here. It just tastes better, and if you but a couple Weeks at a time they give a slight discount and label it a package. I find its not much more expensive than a grocery store, sometimes out works out even less when figuring a pet person meal cost. Love the article- I always wondered about the"manager special" meat, now I'm thankful I haven't purchased any!

  3. I have been a meat cutter for 43 years - Still in the thick of it. It is a fact that eye appeal = buy appeal. This fact is even supported by scripture Gen. 3:6. Everything that looks good is not necesarily quality, as the "Single Mormon Dad" pointed out. The surest way to get quality meats at a value price is to make friends with your local butcher.