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USDA Prime beef quality over the past few decades


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Evan, I have been suggesting you to Steven Shaw, for a future eGullet Q&A for a mighty long time. Thanks for joining us here at eGullet. My #1 question to you, is could you run down any quality differences of the USDA Prime beef supply in the several decades you have been at Lobel`s butcher shop? As an example, is the US Prime beef as a general rule, less marbled than it was decades ago(USDA seems to have lowered the standards for their USDA Prime designation gradually over the years)? If I can ask you a side question. Have you ever tried Canada Prime beef(the Canadian equal to US Prime beef).

Steve

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Hi Steve, thanks for suggesting me, it’s truly my pleasure to be here. I remember when I started in the business 27 years ago my father (Leon) would often say things like; “boy, they sure don’t have beef like they did in the old days”. I think quite often the memory of moments in time, events and such seem to stick in ones head and over time that memory is greater then it actually was some time ago. Over the years much has changed in my business, in the early 80’s the Cryovac machine was invented which made it easier for markets to buy large quantities of meat and hold it for a long time. That is one of the reasons there are not to many skilled butchers anymore, the meat is already broken down so there isn’t the need to do it in the retail shop. Also in the 80’s there a widening of USDA Choice beef. As far as I know it didn’t affect Prime. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that even with the shortage of Prime right now, there’s still some great beef around. I have not tried Canadian Prime.

EL

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