Wednesday, March 11, 2015

USDA Prime, Choice, Select Grade, and Certified Angus Beef

Well, to some folks out there (especially the meat gurus), this is a very interesting subject. The grades of beef set by the USDA are there to help distinguish between the highest quality all the way down to the poorest bovine known to man. Whether you are munching down on a succulent Certified Angus beef Rib-Eye steak, chowing on a choice grade New York Strip, devouring a cheap select Club steak or pondering over the other lower standard cuts of meat like Standard and Commercial grades that are found at certain thrifty food markets or the Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades that may be found in some of your processed foods or cheap hamburger patties, this topic may arouse your interest.

At any rate, instead of me rambling about each grade of beef set by the USDA, I'll mainly provide some resource links. I currently work as a butcher and, when it comes to beef, I mainly cut Certified Angus Beef. Which is kinda cool because it is the only meat market around here that offers it within miles and miles. The shop/store must first spend thousands of dollars to get licensed to even sell the Certified Angus, and when you do get licensed, nobody can sell the stuff within a certain radius of your store. Pretty neat, eh?

The 8 primary grades of meat set by the USDA are as follows: Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner. Where's the one I mostly work with? Well, according to these standards, Certified Angus Beef is a cut above the rest. Read more about that, here:

Read more about the other grades, here:


Now, am I buying into all of this hoopla & ballyhoo from the USDA? Of course not; ha! Sure, the Prime and Certified Angus has more marbling and fat, juice, and sometimes flavor, but how did they get that way? Were they force-fed corn toward the end of their fat cow life? What if I like leaner cuts of meat from a lower grade and actually know how to cook a steak? LOL! What if a healthier steak from a farm-raised and grass-fed cow that hasn't been injected with antibiotics and growth hormones but has less marbling, is much leaner, and tastes way better, doesn't pass the USDA's test? Ha-ha! You see what I mean?

Plus, doesn't Japan suppose to have the best, most fattiest beef on the planet? I don't know much about Kobe beef or Wagyu, but just saying...

Here is an excellent starting (menu) page that covers various subject like this:

The bottom line: Before you sell out and spend a lot more money for extra fatty beef from overly fed young cows, you may want to do your homework first. Is this seemingly interesting subject overrated or what? Speaking of that, what's for dinner?

Image Credit: Fair Use - The logo image is being used solely for non-commercial reasons and is also found on millions of meat packages, magazines, and websites online. In fact, you can buy these stickers online; ha!

---End of Post "USDA Prime, Choice, Select Grade, and Certified Angus Beef"

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