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Sep 4, 2010 08:48 AM

Chow issues that make you just say, "Why?"

Off the top of my head, I have two, and for some reason they both happen to involve fat content:

WHY is it that one main reason cooking pork these days can be a challenge is because the meat is so lean BUT, bacon seems to be coming with more fat and less meat?

WHY is it that dairy products with a higher fat content cost more than those with a lower fat content? - it seems to me that making 1% milk is more labor intensive than making whole milk and should therefore cost more money.

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  1. Probably because they sell more 1% than whole milk. Not enough people bake, I guess.

    1. Maybe when they finish the hogs before slaughtering, all the fat goes right to their belly. I know it does with me when I pig out!

      1. IMO, lowfat milk goes bad quicker than regular milk, so maybe there's more spoilage? Still, the company is getting two products from the same milk pail, so to speak, ... they must be selling the cream separately that they remove from the milk

        When people eat pork they usually want to be virtuous so choose low fat types. As to the current bacon trend in EVERYTHING ... well, bacon is viewed as a naughty pleasure, so people are more willing to pig out on fat.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rworange

          IMO, lowfat milk goes bad quicker than regular milk

          In my experience, just the opposite is true. I've seen skim milk last way past its expiration date.

          1. re: al b. darned

            Okay.... Gonna split some hares here and maybe end up with a pot of hassenpfeffer! I have never seen a container of milk with an "expiration date" on it. I have only seen milk with "Sell By:" dates on them. Milk is normally good long past the sell-by date. No one can predict at what point any milk will go sour, or "bad." There are a whole bunch of variables that come into play. Has it been kept uniformly cold its whole life? It will last a lot longer than milk that is taken out of the fridge for an hour or two at a time. Then drinking from the bottle will sour it over night. Enzymes, you know, and I'll stop there. And then whether the milk is raw, pasteurized or super pasteurized makes a huge difference in shelf life. Super pasteurized organic milk will last for months. And then there is irradiated milk sold in bags that requires no refrigeration until opened, but it's pretty hard to find in the U.S., though common in Europe.

            MORAL: Do NOT trust the date on cartons. Trust your nose. Or your taste buds. When milk goes bad, it will tell you about it. My mother used to bake great bread and cakes with sour milk.

        2. First Question: Pigs store fat differently than cattle. You will find pork chops with fat around the meat, but you will not find pork chops with marbled meat. Different animals. So it's fully possible to trim all the fat away from a fresh country ham and come up with some very lean pork. Impossible to do that with a USDA prime roast!

          Question Two: Have you priced butter lately? Butter is made from the cream taken from skim milk. The price difference between skim milk and whole milk is butterfat content.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Caroline1

            Not sure you are correct about no marbling in pork, but even if you are correct, I sure would like it if "Food Inc." would do a little better job at trimming the fat off my bacon.



            As for question two, what you say makes sense. Thanks.

            1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

              On point one, we're both right in a sense. I'm attaching some pictures of USDA Prime from Lobel's ultra premium meat market. The beef is not wagyu, but simply USDA Prime. The pork *is* Berkshire pork, an ultra premium grade famed for its marbling. However, when you compare the pork and beef side by side there is a major difference in the amount of marbling. When you get into less elite cuts of meats such as USDA Choice and below, the difference becomes even more remarkable. BUT! There are some parts of a pig that cannot be trimmed well and still have the cut left in a recognizable state. Bacon is one. Sorry I wasn't clearer in my first post!

              Sorry, the picture titles aren't showing up. I must have done something wrong. The left picture is a beef rib steak, the right is a pork rib chop, the center photo is a rack of pork rib chops.

              1. re: Caroline1

                Chow doesn't display titles when you upload, AFAIK

          2. "1% milk is more labor intensive than making whole milk and should therefore cost more money."

            I don't think that is true. Consider the way we process milk today the labor is the same. The dairy companies can use the extra milk fat to make other things like cream and butter. Homogenized whole milk does take more fat away from that.

            12 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I'm pretty sure all types of milk are usually the same price within a certain brand at any given time. I'm not sure though as I'm not a big milk customer, but I do know they leave the factory at the same price, how the grocery chain wants to market it could be another story. Or they may have to pay on a different price tier if they don't buy as much of one item as another. Also, they have to inventory and store slower moving items differently, leading to higher overhead if it sells less.

              1. re: coll


                Is that true? Because homogenized whole milk require more milk fat. In short, if everyone drink whole fat milk, then there is less milk fat to make butter and cream than if everyone drink nonfat milk. I think the bottom line (the supply side - the cost side) is not the same because nonfat and low fat milk provides another line of revenue.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I think they just average it out and then charge as much as they can get. (sorry I edited my first answer extensively and you may be answered that, if so sorry) Maybe milk is the loss leader for dairy companies and they count on getting their profits from the cream and butter, and buttermilk and other byproducts. But I do know that at the wholesale level, milk is all the same price.

                2. re: coll

                  What about Govt. price supports? and the Govt. buys butter, no? and processes powdered milk for distribution to states' and international feeding programs.

                  1. re: ospreycove

                    That's supposed to be surplus, so I think it just keeps the prices stable. I think the biggest government commodity item is american cheese, and there must be a smidgen of milk in there. Not sure about government butter, never heard of it, I'm thinking it's margarine made out of soybean.

                    1. re: coll

                      Way back in the early 1970s I was the purchasing agent for a non-profit kids sleep away camp. We were entitled to order the free government surplus foods. At that time there was plenty of pasta (in 30 lb bulk boxes manufactured by Prince), #10 cans of peanut butter, assorted canned and frozen vegetables, canned luncheon meat (SPAM) and cases of 1lb solid block butter. We always ordered the maximum we could get. We were a kosher institution, so we couldn't use the luncheon meat. Our director was a public school principal. He'd arrange to swap the luncheon meat with his school food service director for vegetables or pasta.
                      We always had a few hundred pounds of butter left over at the end of the season (it was of no use in preparation of meat meals) and it was kept for years in deep frozen storage (complements of a board member in the business).

                      In those years that the government did not have butter on the free list, we'd draw down from our frozen stock. In years there was butter, we'd send the new to storage and draw and use the oldest stock first.

                      The butter was all USDA grade AA.

                      I checked with a friend who is the cook for a local charitable institution, and he told me that butter is not as plentiful from the government since price supports and regional subsidies were done away with, but it is available at times.

                      Margarine is rarely available from the goverment surplus food program, as it does not fit inn the ideal Government Food Pyramid scheme.

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        You definitely know better than I do. I know there are surplus items but only know the ones I happen to hear mentioned. Butter would be a great deal now, it's going for close to $100 a case!

                        1. re: coll

                          What's up with butter? I was getting 4lbs at Sam's for less than $7 in July, and last week it was $9+.

                          1. re: jeanmarieok

                            Supply shortage apparently.
                            About 10 years ago I remember it being at least $20 more per case than now (a case is 36 # in case you're wondering).

                            1. re: jeanmarieok

                              Think Drought in Russia.........................
                              Exports are up, we pay more

                              1. re: jeanmarieok

                                The dairy industry is so, so sad. The small farmers just can't keep up. I see this first hand all over my state, and I live in the largest dairy producing county in my state. The retail prices go up, but the farmers don't benefit. This is an excellent reason to source local dairy from someone other than Dairygold (etc). If you're going to pay out the nose, keep a farm from being paved.