Local butchers serve up quality, personal service
USDA Meat Grades:
According to "The Joy of Cooking," in 1927 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) instituted a voluntary system of meat grading. Meat processors hire meat graders to judge the meat based on uniform standards for tenderness, juiciness and flavor. The grades from highest to lowest are:
- Comes from animals raised under special conditions to create a high degree of marbling.
- Meat is tender, finely textured and well flavored.
- Rarely purchased by consumers, prime is usually only sold to restaurants.
- Comes from young animals with moderate marbling.
- The highest cut of meat usually available in butcher shops and supermarkets.
- Some meat producers will use unofficial terms such as "high choice" or top "choice," to further grade cuts within this category.
- Leaner, less tender meat from lesser breeds or less well-fed animals.
Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner:
- Meat with a coarser appearance and no marbling.
- These lower grades are rarely sold in retail, and are mainly used for manufactured meat products.
Since grading is not mandatory, a small percentage of meat sold in supermarkets is ungraded. When evaluating ungraded meat, the consumer should look for "well-shaped cuts with clean, pure-looking fat and compact, evenly grained muscle."
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