Beef Grades

A few months ago I was in our nicest local grocery and asked the man dressed in white behind the meat case stocking the meat case what grade of meat beef they sold.  He looked up at me and answered Angus.  I was shocked.

Angus is not the correct answer.  Angus is a breed not a USDA Grade of beef.  Any breed could probably be any grade as the grade system is based on quality.  What you feed the cattle and how they are tended to will determine  the amount of fat, marbling, and quality of the meat.

After that I started paying a lot more attention to the newspaper ads and the advertising.   Generally I only buy meat from our local butcher, Randy Pearson of Rivertown Butcher Shop in Newburgh, Indiana.  He carries only the top two USDA grades of beef, Prime and Choice.  Although the Japanese Cobe Beef is considered to be above our grading system.  Those cattle are not allowed to roam and form muscle but rather are massaged daily and fed a special diet.

There are 5 USDA Beef Grades and they are top to bottom as follows:  Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, and Institutional Grade.  The quality becomes less as you descend in the lineup.

The reason I am spending my time and attention on this is that as this recession we are not having any more drags on and our grocery dollars shrink I want you to know what you are paying for.  Then you can spend more wisely. 

For example in recent weeks as the temperature warms and people cook out more steaks are being advertised.  In the small print the word Select was noted.  You are getting farther than I want to go down in the grading scale depending on the cut of meat specifically.   So that price may not be such a great deal.  It certainly is not if you are comparing a select steak to choice or prime cuts.

If I was having a special dinner and wanted really good steaks I would be asking for Choice for sure.  Depending on my budget I might even go Prime!!

On the other hand if I was in a money pinch I might consider buying fillet as you might be able to get away with select just because of how very tender the beef is going to be in that cut. 

It pays to do a bit of research and find out about about meat grades if you intend to get the best for your food dollars.  It also pays to learn how to cook the less tender but very flavorful cuts too!

1 comment:

E said...

Thanks for the info, they certainly try to sell those products! I am so disgusted by the meat at my grocery lately I am in a tizzy and almost refuse to eat meat, and I am a meat a potato, southern IN chick. I am trying to find a local butcher and in Nashville TN if anyone has a reference !! Elaine