Posted 04 November 2003 - 10:04 AM
Also, are there particular times when you find yourself using "lesser" classified meat, and for what? I mean they describe the classifications (Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner) in some confusing ways. It's a measure "quality" but also "wholesomeness", but also "fat content". Huh? How does this all work out with changing and confusing notions of proper fat content, where maybe on sites like this we want fatter meat, but everywhere else the public is always begging for "leaner" meat?
Posted 04 November 2003 - 04:08 PM
There's two things to remember about the USDA system. One is that its criteria for prime are subjective and have changed over time. Not just marbling, but color, firmness, and other qualities go into determining what is prime and choice. Primarily, though, it's about the marbling. In 1950, the USDA started its long history of defining deviance down by collapsing Prime and Choice into Prime, and calling what had been "select" Choice. Today's Choice is probably the Select of the 50s, and only Kobe meat really resembles the prime beef Jack Dempsey and Jackie Gleason used to enjoy.
Almost all the meat you buy in restaurants is either prime or choice; unless it's stew beef or ground meat of some kind -- and that would be in a seriously divey restaurant. In supermarkets of the kind I shop in, like C-Town, you see Select meat. But that's about it. I'm actually fascinated by the concept of Utility, Cutter, and Canner meat, which I've never seen, but which must be truly awful. And remember that all USDA grading is voluntary -- plants have to pay to get their meat graded. So you can only imagine how bad some of the stuff that doesn't get graded is. (Inspection, as opposed to grading, is mandatory.)
As for lean-meat pathology, that usually comes up more with cuts than with grading. People will buy choice or even prime filet, round, ground sirloin, and other lean cuts; but whether they wouldn't do just as well with lower grades of the same unmarbled meat is open to question.
To sum up: what they call prime today is a crime, but we can all agree that the more marbling there is, the better the meat.
Does that make sense?
Posted 04 November 2003 - 04:42 PM
Does that make sense?
Posted 04 November 2003 - 05:26 PM