I heard an ad on the radio for beef for sale… sides (half a cow) and quarters. The ad said a side of beef would provide approximately 90 meals for a family of four for a year. The ‘reason’ given was the high price of feed corn, and this is true – corn farmers are selling their crop to for methane production and methanol additives to gasoline. This is also the reason world hunger is on the rise – you can LIVE on corn. (I blogged earlier about Brazil using sugar cane for ethanol and they are having great success with it…. But you cannot live on sugar cane. You CAN live on corn.)
I’m rambling…. But my point here is… like a carton of orange juice has dropped from 64 oz to 59 oz, the beef you are buying in the grocery stores now is literally THIRD RATE, and has been for some time. The best beef you can buy (or can’t buy any longer) is PRIME – and there are three subgrades. This is 99% only available in fine restaurants (unless you’re the president and can pay $100/lb for Kobe beef – but that’s another blog). Two or three years ago, you could get CHOICE grade beef in high end supermarkets and butcher shops. Choice also has three subgrades.
Today, about all the regular consumer can buy is SELECT, which has two subgrades, and neither has significant fat marbling – the thing that gives beef its flavor and tenderness. Select is one grade above STANDARD (or commercial, which I call ‘dog food grade’) Beef sellers lowered the grade they sell rather raise the price/pound. And I’m sure you’ve noticed – that price continues to creep up. My local store puts a big SELECT grade stamp on their beef – like it’s something special. Let’s hoodwink the consumer. Easy enough – many of them voted for Obama! (Yeah – I’m still all about politics!)