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what happened to that good old rich beef flavor in our choice and prime cuts?

I have noticed for the past 20 years or so that beef is not as good as I remember. Even choice beef doesn't taste as rich as it used to. Are they feeding cattle differently? The same goes for pork. The flavors have changed and they have gotton tougher.. I have been so disappointed these last several years. Twice I purchased a boneless prime rib ( and yes WinCo employees said ALL their meat is PRIME) and both times it was flavorless and tough. I tried Costco's pork and beef with the same result. Does anyone know what is up.

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  1. That is an easy one...the lack of flavor is from the diet cattle and pigs are fed...corn fed beef is not as rich in flavor as grass fed ( what mother nature intended). Buy yourself some grass fed beef..you will not be disappointed.

    1. Well, it turns out Americans have gotten used to bland meat. Think of the popularity of beef tenderloin (I'd rather eat tofu - I like skirt steak, and hanger steak). And the meat is also leaner, not as nicely marbled.

      Here's a lovely trick: get yourself some suet from corn-fed vs grass-fed beef and render it. The corn-fed tallow will be white; the grass-fed will be golden, the way old tallow candles used to be.

      Pork is an outright culinary catastrophe: they've bred them much leaner, to compete with poultry. For the past dozen years, heritage swine breeds have ruled the roost (to mix metaphors) in gourmet and fine restaurant trade, but are too pricey for average American supermarkets.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Karl S

        Or think of the popularity of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

        Does anyone know about the difference between Asian and western pork breeds? I have a feeling the Asian pigs are bred to be more fatty, because there's never any lack of fat in the local pork. Or do they just prefer the fatter cuts (pork belly, cuts for braising sold with a thick layer of fat)?

        1. Here's an interesting old thread relating to this -

          1. There are advertisement on TV in Quebec from the pork producers association heavily promoting that pork is about 30% leaner than it was 25 years ago, so that explains the change in flavor from back then

            1. I think cow patties have been used in feed for years IIRC (this isn't new technology folks), but here's an article about it anyway. Should it be any wonder why meat tastes like sh*t ?? Decades ago cows were allowed to graze or be fed grass ONLY. It's a very disturbing and different story nowadays.

              Look --> http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/stor...

              1. Producers go for tenderness over flavor because
                they believe that's what most people want. For flavor,
                you might have buy grass fed. My favorite is steaks
                from Alderspring ranch idaho. But its fame has spread,
                so it's in short supply.

                1. I've always cooked with grain fed beef in the US and generally never had a problem with flavor. Obviously one doesn't make a beef stew with tenderloin so you need to be smart with what cuts you are using for what dish.

                  Even though I lived abroad for years both in the UK, the UAE and Indonesia, I've never warmed up to grass fed beef. It tends to be drier and there's plenty of grass fed beef that's tasteless. The lamb or pork was always my preferred meat. Until recently all the beef in Dubai available in the supermarket were imported grass fed beef and compared to the grain fed beef in the US it was bland and tough. Then a specialist butcher opened earlier this year, sourcing grain fed beef from certain ranches in Australia, and the comparison between a juicy, high quality grain fed steak and a mass market grass fed steak is pretty pronounced.

                  So, it isn't just a case of grass versus grain.

                  1. I won't wade into the corn vs grass fed beef argument other than to say I've had enough of each to know there is good and bad steak from both camps. The thing I wanted to point out was that you bought a "boneless prime rib" which is a cut, not a grade. Prime rib can be both choice and prime. My understanding is that less than 2% of all beef is of prime grade. There's far less prime beef actually out there than what is touted as prime. Whenever I come across prime its at least twice the price of non-prime meat so watch out for supposed bargin prime. But even then, that's no guarantee that the meat is going to give you great flavor.

                    1. From what I see online, Winco is a low priced supermarket. I highly doubt that all their meat is
                      Prime, as in the grade of meat. They may consider it prime, as in "good quality".

                      And as mentioned below, a boneless prime rib refers to the cut of meat, not the grade of meat. You can have a Choice prime rib roast.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: boogiebaby

                        Their web site says nothing about grades, so it's a safe bet that all their meat isn't "prime." If it was it would be in boldfaced capitals and in every sentence. When "Hormel" branding is featured prominently, I wouldn't set my expectations high.


                      2. I personally don't think it has to do much with cattle production, but more to do with how meats are handled. Back in the day, dry-aged beef used to be the standard. Today, pretty much all beef is wet-aged, mostly IMHO due to exaggerated fears of food poisoning. Cooks Illustrated covered this a while back, and I follow their dry-aging technique for my standing rib roast at Christmas. That plus superlow cooking temperatures give that beefy flavor back to the dish. I mentioned my dry age plus low cooking temperature to one of my local butchers and he freaked out and I mean FREAKED OUT -- you're going to KILL everyone its UNSAFE -- but I just followed Cooks Illustrated and am a convert both to the beef prep and to another butchershop in my area. JMHO...