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Best place in MSP for ground beef

Today's New York Times has a really eye-opening story about common practices in processing ground beef.

It talks about how trimmings from multiple locations are combined by big processors. Some of these trimmings are more likely to carry e coli. Processors are even taking cheap trimmings, warming them, then centrofuging off the melted fat, treating the remaining meat with ammonia and using that.

Apparently Cargill does this. The article traced meat and trimmings from three locations including Uroguay that went into a burger with e coli that paralyzed a young Minnesota woman from the waist down.

We don't use a lot of ground beef. But where would you go for it?

The recent thread on best MSP places for steak recommended a few places, including Hill and Vale meat that is cut and processed by butchers at Steward. Does anyone know if they have H & V ground beef? Any other places you would go?

(Here's that recent thread on steaks in MSP: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/640231

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  1. I tend to get my ground beef at the Wedge. They have meat from "Country Natural Beef" co-op (finished on grain and potatoes - but not corn) and Thousand Hills (100% grass fed). I like both of these - the Thousand Hills more for meat sauce or other sauce applications and the Country Natural (which comes in a wider variety of fat ratios) for burgers. To be honest, I have never asked exactly how they process the ground beef, but the butchers there are nice and helpful.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LauraB

      What's the difference in taste between the Country Natural Beef and the TH? I'm not sure I like the taste of 100% grass fed.

      How would you compare the two?

      1. re: karykat

        I personally think they both taste a bit "beefier" than supermarket beef (to me the taste is not much different, but just a bit stronger). I like the flavor of both and without a side-by-side test cannot really tell you the difference between the two (especially given the different applications I have used them in recently).

    2. When I saw this thread I just had to check it out even though I'm not in MSP(anymore). I saw that piece in the NY Times. It totally disgusted me. I thought, I'm never eating ground beef again! The market I go to here in metro Detroit(Hillers) claims they grind their own beef several times a day. I hope that makes a difference!

      1. I get mine at the Saint Paul farmers market.

        1. We get ours from Farm on Wheels at the St Paul Farmer's Market. We love their ground beef. However, it is grass-fed with no grain. Since you don't like that...I would try Bar 5. I've not had their ground beef but I've had their steaks (their beef is prairie-raised but they also get some grain), which are very yummy, I think more conventional taste.

          I'm a big believer in buying my meat directly from the (small) farmer. More accountability, less of these crappy shenanigans. I know that as long as they are not too mobbed both Bar 5 and Farm on Wheels will be happy to talk to you about their practices. I think they both participate in the Winter Market, for sure Farm on Wheels does.

          1. Pardon the interruption folks, but we've split a discussion regarding grinding your own hamburger to the Home Cooking board. Please continue that portion of the discussion here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/657309

            1. I can avoid buying supermarket hamburger for home cooking, but where can I eat out and be sure of a safe burger in the Twin Cities area?

              1. I'd try Clancey's Meats and Fish in Linden Hills. (4307 Upton Ave. South, 612-926-0222) Local beef, etc. and I believe they grind their hamburger in-house. As for grass vs. corn fed, I know Clancey's has a lot of grass-fed beef, but I've always found the staff to be very helpful. Even if they don't have corn-fed beef, they'd be able to steer you in the right direction. Kristin Tombers, one of the owners, would be a great person to talk to. She can tell you exactly which local farm a particular piece of meat came from. Good luck!

                3 Replies
                1. re: Gr8Marlys

                  Great pun. :)

                  And yes, I think I would be able to get good advice there.

                  1. re: Gr8Marlys

                    Thanks, but I'm looking for a safe cooked burger, not ground beef.

                  2. Widmer's grinds their own ground beef. It is excellent. Farmer's market is hard to beat as well. The Golden Fig on Grand carries products from many of the producers who sell at the Farmer's Market. I know they have chickens and pork chops. I bet they have ground beef too.

                    1. The NYT article was well written but did not really explore the difference between commodity versus source verified meat. This is essentially a trust based question. Does your beef/meat supplier offer traceability? The farms that sell at the farmer's market have to process their livestock at State or Federal inspected facilities. It is generally well outside of the commodity stream. Processing for small growers is not economical for large scale slaughter and processing operations, because they're too focused on through put to offer individual attention.

                      To credit the big guys, both Whole Foods and Costco do a lot to verify the quality of the meat they sell by paying a large amount of attention to the upstream processors and their methods. They hire independent audit companies to come in and review the businesses who supply them. The standards are much higher than State or Federal and they often require upgrades in order to maintain the relationship (mandated bacteria testing, metal detection, stronger policies and procedures). McDonald's can also be credited with establishing a very stringent supply stream.

                      Ask your butcher (if there isn't a butcher on site, you're looking at commodity level product at best). Where's your ground beef from? How often do you grind it? From what primal cuts of meat? Is the product ground from fresh or frozen? If you get flakey answers, you've got your answer. Farm direct suppliers will almost always have a ton of information about the product and generally be proud to talk it up (if the queue isn't too deep). Cheap product in a discount retailer setting would be highly suspect if I were not cooking it to 160 degrees, which is a terrible thing to do to red meat.