HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Can I insist on the exact weight of meat and fish? Should I?

  • a

A poster on my local board is furious that a fishmonger didn't make his salmon fillet exactly .5 lb as requested and didn't say "it's a little over, is that ok?" This got me wondering - how exact should the weight at the meat or fish counter be? How much over/under is acceptable? Is it ok to insist the butcher or fishmonger trim your purchase down to exact weight even if that means more waste trimmings for them?


In the case on the local board, the poster asked for .5 lb of salmon at $13/lb. The fillet initially weighed in at .85 and the fishmonger trimmed it down, and wrapped it up. The poster later discovered that it was over .5 lb by $2, which by my calculations means it could have been .6 lb or thereabouts. To me, this seems close enough and I wouldn't expect the fishmonger to waste .1 lb of fish to make my piece exactly .5 lb, but maybe others would? Should they tell you it's still a bit over? Is it ok to tell them "no, it's not ok that it's a little over" and insist they trim the piece of fish further?

Does it matter how expensive the item is? Either because the customer shouldn't have to pay for more than she asked for or because the store shouldn't have to waste expensive items?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think it's being overly anal-retentive to ask them to trim another 10th of a lb. from a piece of salmon. What - is that maybe a bite or two of salmon? And how did the poster "later discover" it was over a 10th of a lb? Did she not look at the price when the fishmonger gave it to her?

    If I ask for a half lb. of rare roast beef and they give me three-quarters? No, I don't want that much. But if it's .60? Yeah, that's fine. If I ask for a lb. of jumbo shrimp and it weighs 1.15 lbs? What's that - maybe an extra shrimp? I'm OK with that. As for seafood in the fish case, I usually point to the filet I want and take it all - unless my eyes were bigger than my stomach and it weighs a LOT more than I had assumed.

    I can only assume that the OP in the other thread is on some diet that has specific weights of food to be used. In that case, I'd eat less of whatever else was being served to countermand the 2 extra bites of fish.

    ETA: I read the beginning of the thread and saw the OP saw the weight differential was not down to the half lb., but they chose to not say anything. Tough tooties, then. IMO.

    1. Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh.
      Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more
      But just a pound of flesh: if thou cut'st more
      Or less than a just pound, be it but so much
      As makes it light or heavy in the substance,
      Or the division of the twentieth part
      Of one poor scruple, nay, if the scale do turn
      But in the estimation of a hair,
      Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate.
      -Merchant of Venice

      Immediately this came to mind when I read this title.

      4 Replies
            1. re: maria lorraine

              Quintuple awesome. (once to add to the others and once to acknowledge the fact that viperflush's creative response lasted three and a half years - wouldn't happen today)

      1. It does not matter how expensive. It matters what my friends, family and I am going to eat.

        I ask for four slices of Mortadella, 6 slices of Proscuitto, ground pork that will fit into my hand (which is smaller than the butcher's hand), 8 jumbo shrimp.

        I will point at that already cut steak, which looks wonderfully marbled or a piece of fish which looks very fresh and ask the weight, knowing I can take it home and cut it into two or three portions. I have knives and a freezer at home.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Cathy

          I agree about the specifics when possible. I also ask for slices and exact number or shrimp or scallops.

          1. re: melpy

            Until this thread I didn't even know I *could* ask for a piece of fish or meat to be cut down! I always just pick out the steaks or fillets I want and ask for those.

            What do they do with the small pieces of meat leftover???

            1. re: bluemoon4515

              I generally don't ask for actual cuts of meat trimmed down. I get one large and cut to size myself. At the meat counter it's usually for ground meats. I know I can grind my own in the food processor but I have a hard time getting the fat residue out of the bowl when I clean it. Perhaps very small pieces get ground?

              1. re: bluemoon4515

                Sometimes the butcher will weigh the piece of meat, cut off whatever it is that you don't want and then charge you for the original weight. Or they might charge you for the trimmed weight.
                Trimmings generally go into either ground beef, off to the renderer, or into the trash which is why the original posting is so egregious. She's expecting the fish monger to take a loss on food just so she can save money. It's typical entitlement thinking. More for me, less for you.

                1. re: Big Eater

                  If somebody wants exact weight with seafood they need to look at frozen portion cut pieces. Want fresh, take what the monger has and be glad he is there to provide fresh.

          2. I always tell the fish or deli guy "a half pound, or a little more", or "a half pound, or a little less". That usually solves the problem of trimming, as s/he knows exactly which I'd prefer if s/he can't hit it on the nose.

            1 Reply
            1. jfood is sorta in the try to get it close category. One time he asked for a 6 oz salmon filet (one person sized) and the fishmonger (a new guy) placed close to 2# on the scale and asked if that was close enough. The he cut it in half, "close enough?" getting closer, then half again and asked if that was OK. Good to go at .60.

              Thjen jfood realized that the fishmonger did not know how to convert oz to decimals on the scale. He wondered over to the customer service counter and mentioned that he should tape a list of ounces to decimals on the scale at the fish station. Not very pleasantly he told jfood that it was his job to know. Okeedokee, no good deed goes unpunished.

              Next time jfood asked for "0.40 on th scale please." Over / under the fishmonger could handle.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jfood

                I find this a common problem at the grocery store.

                1. re: jfood

                  I guess that's why I always ask in fractions of a pound (we're easy because "just under a pound or so" is just right in our case. Or I would ask for half a pound or a pound and a half of something. I think expecting our poor guy to handle ounces is just too much :)

                  1. re: jfood

                    I've had the conversion problem before too, and for fractions of a pound, which I think is simpler yet then converting ounces to decimals (e.g., I say something like 2/3 of a pound and he cuts something vastly different). I try to remember to just say a little less than .7 or whatever now.

                  2. There is nothing more annoying than being behind the guy in the deli line who keeps making the poor person behind the counter adjust the weight because it's .05 of a pound over.

                    I always want to kill that guy.

                    3 Replies
                      1. re: bookhound

                        Just what I was thinking!

                        The only time this kind of pickiness would be acceptable, IMHO, is if you only have $6.50 and therefore you cannot pay for any more than 1/2 lb of the $13/lb salmon. Then say so.

                        1. re: visciole

                          It's true. If you are on a budget asking for what you need versus getting what's prepackaged helps a lot. For example for many recipes i only need a tiny but of pancetta. 1 -2 slices is plenty and I pay less than $2 for what I need rather than saying 1/4 of a pound etc.

                    1. The next time an anal-retentive customer comes in, he or she will be treated to individual slicing and weighing, and the order will take a looooooong time (after all, the counterperson is not paid by the head, but by time, so it doesn't really matter if the line backs up). In other words, be careful what you ask for.

                      1. I have problems with this all the time. Especially with deli meats and cheeses. I just buy for myself, but I get "are sure you only want two slices?" or "why would you need so little?". I did meet one astute deli person when he asked if I meant 8 oz or 1/8 lb. As for seafood if it is .1 over, no biggie. But I have learned to watch the fish counter staff closely and tell them when it is enough before it gets long and involved.

                        1. In Japan, it is standard practice to say "about" or "around" when asking for a quantity of meat or fish at the counter. However, they usually get very close to what you ask for.

                          1. For one thing, at $13/lb three and a half years ago, that must have been truly amazing salmon.

                            In many industries (and I think food should be one of them) the buyer specifically agrees that 10% over or under is acceptable.

                            33 Replies
                            1. re: wayne keyser

                              $13lb for farmed salmon 3 1/2 years ago may seem high, but in our area of Southern Connecticut, Wild Alaskan caught salmon topped $20 lb about 5 years ago (and has stayed there).

                              10% over/under is acceptable in many industries for special order production, BUT I don't find it acceptable for food.

                              If I want a 3lb ribeye from the butcher, because I plan to cut 6 8oz steaks to serve the family for supper, giving me 2.7 lbs will leave one person very hungry.

                              Similarly, I have a 91 year old mother and do her grocery shopping. I am very explicit at the deli counter that just under is acceptable, but over cutting will be rejected. Mom eats a very limited amount at her age and does not want to be throwing out deli items gone bad because too much was packed (she lives alone).
                              For our home, the overage doesn't go to waste (4 dogs plus kids).

                              As for Fish, my fish monger will show me the fish, and if I say I want 1/2 pound, he will show me where he proposes to cut and says this should be close, it's up to me to accept or change where he'll cut. BUT once I give the OK to cut, the fish is mine to pay for.

                              As a side note: I don't buy supermarket meat for our consumption (not kosher) but do buy it if sent to shop for MIL. In our area it's not possible to get a 1lb package of ground beef in the supermarkets. They now package them 1.3 pounds (that 20% over). The store employees get real testy when you tell them that you want 1lb ONLY. They don't want to open and repackage. BUT MIL is in her 80s, lives on her own and doesn't need that extra 20%.

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                Maybe you need to change your approach with the butcher. Have you told them it's for your mother in law? I find that even the grumpiest person becomes much more understanding when you explain who you are buying for. If that doesn't work, move to a friendlier part of the country. The butchers here in Iowa, if they don't have what you need, they'll go pull out a new primal and cut it for you while you wait. And they're all amazingly skilled--it's like watching meat ballet.

                                And thanks for the information about how ground beef is sold in your area. That is the craziest thing I've heard today. Does anyone know why they have bumped up to 1.3 lbs as the standard?

                                1. re: Big Eater

                                  Because despite the 80/20 or whatever ration, they put so much fat (and/or maybe water?) in it that you have to count for what you will be pouring out of the pan to get to an even pound!

                                  1. re: Big Eater

                                    You are conflating parts of my post.
                                    I buy from a butcher, the meat for MIL comes from the supermarket. The supermarket meat dept personnel are NOT butchers, they are merely meat packagers. They are union employees who really don't give a damn who you are buying for.

                                    Why they bumped up to 1.3 lbs? Because they can get away with it.

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      <the meat for MIL comes from the supermarket. The supermarket meat dept personnel are NOT butchers, they are merely meat packagers. They are union employees who really don't give a damn who you are buying for.>

                                      May I suggest that you solve this problem by also buying the meat for your MIL at the butcher shop, where you apparently find the service satisfactory? (thereby avoiding your perceived difficulties with the supermarket meat dept)

                                      1. re: MrsPatmore

                                        Your suggestion is well intentioned BUT will NOT solve the problem.

                                        My wife and I keep a kosher home and buy meat from a kosher butcher. MIL does NOT keep a kosher home and wants regular meat from the supermarket. It is NOT possible for example to buy ground sirloin or ground round (items she asks for) at a kosher butcher in the USA.

                                        We live in a suburban town of about 30,000. Unfortunately, there is only one supermarket left in town (Stop and Shop). Without competition, they know they can provide bad service at high prices.

                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                          buy a grinder and grind the beef for her (at her house if need be)

                                          Then you can package it in whatever size you want it, to whatever degree of accuracy you can find a scale to measure.

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            I think you've baked too long in the sun. There is nothing wrong with expecting to be able to buy ONE POUND of ground beef in the supermarket and NOT be forced to buy 30 per cent over.

                                            I don't need to set up and grind beef on any given day MIL decides she'd like a pound of ground beef. Supermarkets exist for shopping convenience.

                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                              <Supermarkets exist for shopping convenience.>

                                              Actually, supermarkets exist to create profit for proprietor or shareholders. Customer convenience is not the purpose of any store, nevermind the grocery business that operates on notoriously slim margins

                                              1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                All businesses exist in hopes of turning a profit. The concept of a supermaket instead of individual butcher, baker, greengrocer, fishmonger shops, etc. was to provide shopping convenience and turn larger profits with economies of scale.

                                              2. re: bagelman01

                                                Ok since you can't get the store to work for you and you won't grind your own you need to get creative. I find that when I accept that some things are out my control it's best to let it go instead.

                                                It terrible you have only a single store in your town otherwise you could "vote with your wallet" but since you can't :

                                                Couple of ideas:

                                                1) don't buy prepackaged. deal ONLY with one of the meat guys and insist on the exact weight you want.

                                                2) buy the the 1.3lb packages, separate out the extra and freeze until you have a full pound. buy the 3.3lb pound packs and break it into 1.1lb packs. Still over but a single oz shouldn't be over the top

                                                3) does your MIL have any friends in the same boat? Maybe start an ersatz co-op. Chicken livers, ground beef, etc. You could buy bulk and split up between them.

                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                    Apparently, no. I'm disappointed. I sincerely wanted to know if his MIL would accept 1 lb ground chuck, which I think he can get at his favorite kosher butcher shop (he already visits this butcher each week to get his own kosher meats, according to his posts, and this butcher will pack to order).

                                                    Out of curiosity and randomly, I called the butcher dept of the Stop 'n Shop in Trumbull, CT, and asked if I could get a 1 lb pack of ground sirloin. The guy said no problem, when did I want to pick it up? I picked Trumbull only because it fit BM's stated demographics and it (allegedly) has a kosher bakery. I have no way to know if BM shops at this particular store

                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                  you don't want to buy the extra .3 pounds
                                                  you don't want to buy and grind your own.
                                                  The store doesn't repackage for .3 pounds (because why should they then waste 30% of their inventory?)

                                                  You drop insults on people who are making suggestions without any snark.

                                                  When you find that incantation that makes 1.0000 pounds of ground beef appear on your countertop, let us know.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Corrections to your assumptions....................
                                                    I don't want to buy any supermarket meat. I am shopping for MIL who wants only ONE pound of ground beef at a time, NOT 1.3.
                                                    The store would not be wasting product by packing ONE pound on request. This is not the same as saying cut off .3 lb from a steak, then the store is stuck with the small amount. The store grinds huge vats of beef throughout the day and can package in any size (if they wish).
                                                    This is about BAD customer service, when all the competitors have closed in town.
                                                    4 Miles away is another branch of Stop and Shop and there is a Big Y (competitor) across the street. That branch has no problem packing 1lb of ground beef when requested.
                                                    There is talk that a regional chain is negotiating for the now empty IGA location in our town. If competition opens Stop and Shop will have to improve service to keep market share.

                                                    and before you say why don't I just go to the Stop and Shop 4 miles away. I shop in the local one because the bakery is kosher and under supervision and they stock many kosher items, neither of which exists in the stire in the next town. Different demographics.

                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                      We all have to adjust our personal preferences to what is physically available. We'd all like to be able to buy exactly what we want, when and where we want it, but reality doesn't often hand us that, and we have to either adjust our expectations, or learn to accept the limitations.

                                                      There's only so much angst time allotted to us in this life....why waste so much of it on 4.8 ounces of hamburger?

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        Exactly. Often I only need a few tablespoons of tomato paste for recipes. I can buy the squeeze tube, but they are harder to find in my areas AND more expensive. I could raise hell against the tomato canning industry and request they start making even smaller cans, but that would be silly. Besides, I am sure there is a perfectly good (i.e. - profitable, they are a business after all) reason why manufacturers and supermarkets choose to package things the way they do. This is why I have a freezer. Extra tomato paste? Freeze it. Extra meat? Freeze it. I am so confused why an extra 1/3 pound of meat is such a big deal. If you shop every week, save the extra 1/3 pound in the freezer and once a month you don't have to buy any ground beef at all. Problem solved.

                                                        A little flexibility goes a long way - both in how much stress you cause yourself and how others perceive you.

                                                        1. re: Justpaula

                                                          sorry if this aggravates you....but one of the many things I miss about France is the tomato paste -- they actually make a tiny little can of tomato paste that's half the size of a US tin of tomato paste...exactly the right amount of paste for a recipe.

                                                          I can't imagine why they won't sell that size here.

                                                      2. re: bagelman01

                                                        After getting the kosher goods at one store, why not drive to the other one?

                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                          Isn't it funny how faith (and for that matter mothers-in-law) can be such a source of strength, comfort, meaning, and general wonderfulness in life, yet at times can have the opposite effect?

                                                          Even though it's causing tsuris for poor bagelman01, if people keep pitching ideas we're going to come up with a solution sooner or later.

                                                          I personally would be happy to call the doggone store manager out there in Conn and tell him or her that their butchers need to lighten up (so to speak) with the ground beef and to be nicer about special orders. Just because you're the only store in town doesn't mean that you can run a crummy operation.

                                                          1. re: Big Eater

                                                            I had the same thought! Stop 'n Shop has that (free) Pea Pod shopping service . . . So I don't understand why BM or MIL couldn't just place the order for one lb of ground beef along with whatever other groceries are needed that week. We don't have Pea Pod shopping service here, but I understand that there is no fee unless you actually have the groceries delivered. If they just gather your order and bag it (you pick it up), I do not think there is any fee. Hopefully this helps!

                                                            1. re: Big Eater

                                                              "I personally would be happy to call the doggone store manager out there in Conn and tell him or her that their butchers need to lighten up (so to speak) with the ground beef and to be nicer about special orders. Just because you're the only store in town doesn't mean that you can run a crummy operation."

                                                              Let us know how that goes :-).

                                                              With the GB, the only thing I can think of is that there are fixed costs such as packaging & labor and they would have to charge slightly more for a quantity under a given weight to maintain a certain profit margin.

                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                I guess I've always wondered with something like ground meat, why they don't do some with a few different weights. Why is 1.3 some standard? I would think there would be people who want 1.5, some who want .75, and so on. Certainly with most other meats (flank, short ribs, steaks) you can get packages that are small, and some that are large.

                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                  Very few things in business are done without a reason. I wish an executive w/in the grocery store industry would chime in and tell us.

                                                                  My "guess" is that its meeting a certain profit per oz margin.

                                                                  LABOR: It probably takes about the same amount of time to portion 1.33 lbs as it does 1.00 lb so the labor cost per oz would be higher for a 1 lb pack.

                                                                  PACKAGING: Both probably fit on the same size tray and require the same amount of plastic wrap and labor to wrap it and transfer it to the display case so again the 1 lb unit probably has a higher per oz cost.

                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                    If there were all different sizes, then there would be all different sizes leftover every day. This way they only have to track and forecast how many units they sell per diem, not 10 different sizes. 1.3 lb must be the exact average of all the sizes that sell in the trackable universe.

                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                      That could be Coll, standardizing size makes sense for the reasons you mention. I don't think its some sinister plot to force people to buy a larger quantity. Truth is we only buy grocery store GB for things like taco dishes. Everything else is either fresh ground by me or a butcher friend.

                                                          2. re: bagelman01

                                                            Your MIL wants ONE lb. of ground beef at a time. So freeze 1/3 lb. for each 3 purchases, and on the fourth "purchase," they get put together for 1 lb. Boom. Done.

                                                            You've said you want what you want, but as the Stones said, you can't always get what you want.

                                                            But a little adaptation can get you there.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              That's actually what I do for ground turkey which often only comes in 1.3 lb packages. Use a lb, save 1/3 and eventually 1/3*3=1 :)

                                                              A few days ago they didn't have any ground turkey breast on the shelf so I asked and the butcher brought out a whole cart full and asked what I needed. I said I only needed a lb, he plopped a container on the machine which was 1.25lbs. It hadn't been labeled yet and they will split them if asked but I figured I'd just save the 1/4 lb to join another pack, throw it in a soup or eggs or feed it to the cat. Anything less than 1/3 lb difference I don't really bother.

                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                I have teenaged boys in the house. An extra 4.8 ounces (1/3 pound) is just one more bite....

                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  So true, around here too. We're protein fanatics so usually I want less so I don't end up eating it but if it's over I often just eat it. It's amazing how small 4 oz really can be. I used to bother with fish to have them trim it but then I realized it's like a few bites so not worth it.

                                                    2. re: bagelman01

                                                      This is very interesting! I learn something new every day. If I understand correctly, ground chuck is kosher (from the fore quarter) but ground sirloin and ground round is not kosher? I wonder if your MIL would agree to use ground chuck to make your shopping for her easier? And make her happier (at least in the sense you'd be able to purchase *exactly* one lb of ground meat for her)?

                                                      Is there that much difference (taste-wise) between ground chuck/sirloin/round? I understand that she does not choose kosher food for religious reasons, but is she actually opposed to consuming kosher products? I would hope that if she understood the problem this creates for you - since you generously do her weekly grocery shopping - she'd agree to this proposed compromise

                                                  2. re: bagelman01

                                                    Here on Long Island too, chop meat is always 1.31 lbs (or 1.36 and so on). Always! I guess if you save all the third of a lbs, after three times you'd have another lb for "free"!

                                                    We have Stop and Shop a few minutes away in my town, but we also have Waldbaums, Best Yet, King Kullen and BJs; with Costco and Super Walmart opening in the next month or two. All within five minutes of my home, ridiculous! Funny though, no dedicated butchers in the immediate area. At least I can shop around, and I never buy meat at Stop and Shop since their prices are always the highest. Their sale prices are what the other stores charge normally.

                                                    However their meat is very nice and the butchers here are very friendly, they roam around and start conversations even, asking what you're going to make with that cut and so on. I know people who shop there just because is IS the most expensive, they think that means it is the best. Little do they know all beef comes from only one or two factories in the whole USA!

                                                2. re: bagelman01

                                                  I like how the dogs came before the kids!

                                              3. It's interesting that this thread just got revived now. I had a related issue this past Christmas. My immediate family was hosting the annual holiday get together for the extended family and I asked my parents to do some of the grocery shopping so I could start cooking when I arrived on Christmas eve. (This is SOP for us, I like to cook, they don't. So when we host it's my show.) I asked them to purchase a 4-5 lb tenderloin, which was just the size we needed since we would also be having ham. When I unwrapped the meat, I saw a 7.87 lb tenderloin. We don't even have a pan big enough for me to sear that!! I asked them what happened and my mom said they went to the counter, saw a HUGE chunk of meat, told the guy they wanted a 4-5 lb piece, he went to the back, cut it, and came back with this, which he proceeded to wrap up and hand them. I blame my mother for not being more assertive, for sure, but I also blame the meat guy for his apparent inability to cut meat to size and his willingness to take advantage of customers who don't know better. I cut it down and we ate the second half for NYE dinner (and it was delicious both times), but still... they ended up spending over $80 on tenderloin, which had NOT been my intention.

                                                1. I would just like to say that I find this thread fascinating. As a Canadian I'm used to going back and forth between imperial and metric, however trying to figure out decimals in a pound is making my head spin! Oz to g and back again. Oi vey!

                                                  24 Replies
                                                  1. re: LexiFirefly

                                                    .2 lbs is a bit over 3 oz
                                                    .4 lbs is about 6.5 oz
                                                    .6 lbs is a bit under 10 oz
                                                    .8 lbs is a bit under 13 oz.

                                                    Haddock filets average in the .6 lbs mark. Not uniformly, but preponderantly.

                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                      Thank you. The need to convert these strange numbers was hurting my brain. :)

                                                      1. re: LexiFirefly

                                                        It is rather odd that, because prices are decimalized, customers can't still have a display of lbs/oz...

                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                          Usually prices are per 100 grams or by the pound. At European stores it's per kg or g. I fairly often need to do the math between lbs (or oz) and grams in recipes and such.

                                                    2. re: LexiFirefly

                                                      Metric is just a passing fad. If it was good enough for Good Queen Bess it is good enough for me.

                                                      1. re: LexiFirefly

                                                        I was thinking "Thank God for metric!

                                                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                          I'm sorry but the metric system has been around for less than 400 years while the imperial system has been traced at least as far back as the Roman occupation of Britain. Imperial is going to outlast metric in the same way that Saturday Night Live outlasted SCTV even though SCTV was not only a far better show, it was 100% Canadian.

                                                          1. re: Big Eater

                                                            Older isn't always better. As someone who was never taught imperial, I can't for the life of me figure out why someone would prefer it. Whenever I have to do some calculations for a recipe, it's just so complicated. The idea of a base ten number system is relatively (in the grand scheme of civilization) new too, but it's better than the ones that were used previously.

                                                            1. re: Big Eater

                                                              I have no problem with the imperial system, but an imperial ounce is now officially measured in grams, and they are trying to standardize it. I will find the (super cool) video showing it.

                                                              eta here it is.

                                                              1. re: Big Eater

                                                                having lived under both systems (in the US and in Europe) I can unflinchingly state that Metric is easier to buy things, easier to manipulate in your head, and I wish that the US would wake up and join the rest of the world.

                                                                How can it possibly make sense that 28g=1ounce, 16 ounces equals one pound, but 8 ounces =a cup, but 2 cups doesn't necessarily make a pound?

                                                                1000 grams = 1kg. Easy.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  We lived in the UK in the 1970s when the currency was (as it is today) the pound divided into 100 pence. Just like dollars and cents. What could be easier?
                                                                  So it always struck me as hilarious when elderly people, when deciding on a purchase, would go through mental gymnastics multiplying and dividing by odd numbers like 21, to convert the pounds and pence into shillings and guineas.

                                                                  1. re: helou

                                                                    but yet they do...every once in a while, I come across a senior citizen in France who still thinks in OLD francs, which were replaced by NEW francs in 1960.

                                                                    And grocery signs in the UK now have both the per-pound and per-kilo price.

                                                                    When we moved to Europe, I found it much easier to just forget about imperial and jump headlong into metric. Trying to convert back and forth just made me crazy.

                                                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                                                    The saying "a pint's a pound the world around" applies to H20. Most fruits, vegetables, and meats are mainly water so that's why it works there but not for drys like flour.

                                                                    1. re: Big Eater

                                                                      er, no it isn't.

                                                                      A US pint is not the same as UK pint.

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842


                                                                        But for cooks here in the land of measurement sanity, the fact that 16 fluid ounces of water weighs 16 ounces is incredibly helpful when you're in the produce section or farmer's market.

                                                                        Here's why: Since fruits and vegetables are mostly water, it is easy to estimate how much to buy when you need a certain cup measure of an ingredient.

                                                                        For instance the standard kitchen yield on 1 lb. of carrots is 2 cups sliced, 1 lb. of tomatoes yields just over 2 cups diced or sliced tomatoes (peeled and seeded the yield goes down to 1 1/2 cups).

                                                                        Of course you have to buy extra to account for waste and to nosh while cooking, but this little fact will help you estimate more accurately how much produce to buy.

                                                                        1. re: Big Eater

                                                                          how is this the land of measurement sanity -- the only G20 country (and one of only a handful of countries worldwide) to still use a less-accurate, more confusing system?

                                                                          Do remember that people from all over the world read this board, and the vast majority of them have been happily using the metric system for decades now.

                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                            You're right. No sanity about it. But the US has always been a country where people will happily embrace bleeding-edge technology in some areas of their lives and cling tightly to obsolete or outlandish ideas in others. It's just the way we are here.

                                                                            For myself, I find imperial charmingly quaint and I like the way it connects my cooking to the cooking of people hundreds of years ago. Continuity is a beautiful thing. (I also love recipes that use measurements like three-finger pinches and scant handsful).

                                                                            And, I enjoy the challenge of doing fractional math in my head when it's time to scale a recipe. For instance, if you want to bump up a recipe by a third, and it calls for 2 cups of flour, how much flour will you need...

                                                                            Intellectually, I believe that metric is much more efficient and easier to use, but having lived through the era that followed The Metric Conversion Act of 1975, I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen here for at least a few more decades.

                                                                            1. re: Big Eater

                                                                              I agree. Metric is easier in a lot of ways. But if Imperial is what you're used to (and you have an innate sense of what a mile is, and a foot, and a pound), there's really *NO* good reason to change. We don't regularly drive across a nearby country boundary to have to deal with another system. So let us be our old-fashioned selves.

                                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                                because we deal with the rest of the world every single second of every single day, and the US remains the sole holdout of an antiquated system.

                                                                                You might not deal with other countries every day, but darned near everything you buy is linked to another country on some level.

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  True indeed. But metric is almost 400 years old so it too is an antiquated system. It is making inroads to the US. For instance all wine and spirits purchases are now metric. All food has dual labels. About the only thing I don't see changing is building products. I somehow think that cooking will be the last to go. Too many treasured recipes.

                                                                                  1. re: Big Eater

                                                                                    you really need to make up your mind whether metric is newfangled or antiquated.

                                                                                    You've stated both within a few posts.

                                                                                    (and as a long-time veteran of the construction industry -- you haven't seen many building-product labels lately if you think they don't use metric)

                                                                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    I remember back in the day Metric was taught in grade school in the US but it never made the leap to practical use.

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                      (you don't need to school me on the flat earth btw). I'm just making the point that whether or not we use cups or grams in our recipes, or oz or grams on our cereal boxes, or label our highways with km or miles, is not an earth-shattering issue.

                                                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                                                        but it matters -- a few years ago, they realized that a major component of the Hubble telescope was rendered inoperable because there'd been a mistake. Someone used imperial measurements when they should have used metric.

                                                                                        Machinery and technology failures are critical and affect lives...

                                                                2. I just went to the butcher to buy a pound of meat for steak tartare. The guy went to the back to grind it, brought out, and it was about 1.25 pounds. I would have been happy to take that and continue on my way. Amazingly enough, he grabbed a "handful" off and it went to exactly one pound, and that's what he wrapped up and gave to me.

                                                                  Overall, though, I would say that within +/- 10-15%, it's OK. I would never stand there and make them continue trimming to get to the exact weight.

                                                                  I do agree that it's best to be as specific as possible..."I'll have that piece and please trim it about there." or "20 jumbo shrimp."

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                    I can only imagine how hard it is to cut a piece of fish to a particular weight. I'm not very fussy, but usually say something like "a pound or a bit less" or "a pound or a bit more" to let them know which side I'm not going to give them a hard time about. For the former, .9 would be ok; for the latter, I'd probably be ok up to 1.2.

                                                                  2. I cannot imagine being so picky, or even on such a tight budget that .1 lb of fish should make a difference, If the weight is within reason (and my "within reason" may vary from others) I am not going to make the butcher or fishmonger keep shaving something down until I get my EXACT request fulfilled. That said, I am pretty sure the butchers at my meat store are magicians who seem to know EXACTLY where to cut to get me nearly the precise amount I have requested. If they *do* err and the weight comes in an ounce or two above (or below) what I requested, I work with it. If two dollars is going to make or break me (and it times it may have) I just buy pre-packaged where I can see the price and buy it without having to embarrass myself over two hundred pennies or make the guy behind the counter keep pinching off pieces (to his employers loss and other customers' annoyances) until I get the EXACT number of ounces I asked for. There is a balance here, but I think it all works out in the end. Be happy you can afford meat at all, is my motto.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Justpaula

                                                                      First: Any butcher who's an actual butcher can size-up what 1/2 pound of beef/salmon looks like within a couple of ounces.
                                                                      If you get a chance watch a butcher break down a beef carcass. He is trained to cut pretty close constant weights of meat thousands of times.
                                                                      I always ask for "about" a pound etc. knowing my butcher will get the weight VERY close if say I want some whole chuck/shoulder from a large cut. They always say "This is a few ounces over/under. It that OK?". Of course it's 'OK'.
                                                                      The main reason butcher shops pre cut fish fillets/steaks etc is so thy don't have to deal with customers who are never likely to be completely happy about anything anyway.