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Standards of USA Beef vs The World

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  • Steve Mar 6, 2014 04:29 PM
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In another thread, a Chowhound wondered if the government standards for beef in Brazil are as stringent as ours - in the USA. The quote is "I'm assuming the standards in this country [USA] are higher."

Personally, I have no knowledge about government standards of beef. In the USA or otherwise.

The only thing I do know is that not everyone shares the same opinion of beef in the USA. I have worked with many people from all over the world within the international community here in DC, and on several occasions people have voiced their displeasure with beef in the USA. Mostly because it doesn't taste as natural as at home.

So I throw this question out to you: how stringent are our standards, and is it correct to assume that we have higher standards?

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  1. Thanks, Steve.

    May I toss in another question? Do "standards" have anything to do with taste?

    3 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      I think it does.Why pay a premium for a prime piece of meat if it isn't going to taste better than the cheapest grade? What criteria does the USDA and their counterparts in other countries use to determine the grade?

      1. re: mucho gordo

        I'll let Steve define what he means but to me there's a big difference between government standards and USDA grading.

        1. re: mucho gordo

          USDA grades are described here:
          http://blogs.usda.gov/2013/01/28/what...
          A significant part of the grading is a visual inspection, looking at the marbling. Fat interspersed with the muscle both makes it tender, and more flavorful (in so far as many flavors are fat soluble). If you want the best steak or roast, choose a higher grade. For other uses, like braising, and grinding, high grade is less important.

      2. I think fat content is important in this equation. When I was growing up a being "trained" by my steak-loving father, we always chose the steaks with the most marbling. A ribeye was supposed to be sumptuously loaded with it. Even a prime ribeye these days is almost dry with a lack of fat.

        1. If by "standards", you mean things like safety procedures, how the cows are fed and medicated, etc., then I think asking such a question of a bunch of anonymous people on the internet is not a particularly useful exercise.

          43 Replies
          1. re: carolinadawg

            I often find there are professionally knowledgeable folks on Chowhound on a variety of food topics, including how beef is raised. So it depends on who is tuning in at the moment.

            Just take a look at this beef thread which includes some insider knowledge:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4008...

            1. re: Steve

              My point is that it's impossible to verify anyone's identity, or credentials, on an anonymous website.

              1. re: carolinadawg

                "If by standards you mean"

                In N. America, the "standards" you alluded to are spelled out to the letter and easily researched. The degree of compliance to those standards is a more debatable subject.

                As for other major beef exporting countries on other continents, who known what the standards are & the compliance rate. Lead paint on infant toys is food for thought.

                1. re: Tom34

                  China is supplying our beef? Since when?

                  1. re: mcf

                    I have read my post several times and a fail to see where I stated China is supplying our beef.

                    1. re: Tom34

                      So this was total non sequitir, off topic? "As for other major beef exporting countries on other continents, who known what the standards are & the compliance rate. Lead paint on infant toys is food for thought."

                      That last is what happened with Chinese exports.

                      1. re: mcf

                        I don't see it that way. As much as we are critical of US consumer regulations, at least we have them. As many who live in other countries have pointed out on this thread, their countries have very few regulations. The lead paint issue was just an example of that fact.

                        1. re: Tom34

                          I'm not sure you are coming to the right conclusion about food regulations in other countries. I believe there was some indication that places in Europe do not grade their meat for marbling because they don't care about that.

                          No country outside of Europe has been mentioned except for an anecdote about lead paint on toys in China.

                          I do know that restaurants in China display a health code rating prominently at their establishment, at least from what I saw. That system does not exist in the US, so they are 'ahead of us' if you care about that sort of thing.

                          1. re: Steve

                            And we should all just trust what they post right? In spite of the gross negligence and mismanagement of things like pet food and infant formula that caused unnecessary deaths, illness and destruction? Not a believer.

                            1. re: Steve

                              My issue Steve is with people that trash the food supply system in the US. Its not perfect and like any other industry, unforeseen problems & accidents have occurred. In the US, these incidents are extensively analysed and when practically feasible laws are changed/adopted to prevent future incidents.

                              Our laws are so extensive that many business hire compliance officers or consultants.

                              To bring the variety of food products to the shelves for 300 million people in the US and exports to billions abroad is nothing short of a miracle.

                              1. re: Tom34

                                Yeah, it's not as if we have to recall millions of lbs of sickening, tainted meat ever year, right?

                                1. re: mcf

                                  Less than 1% and at least we recall it.

                                  PS: "Imported" coarse ground that gets blended with domestic has also played a role in recalls.

                                  1. re: Tom34

                                    Really, how many times? Which recalls, please list them.

                                    Because the superbug e. coli that sickens people and especially kills chidren is found in our agriculture facilities before anything else comes in. And 70% of factory farmed U.S. poultry tests positive for campylobacter and salmonella.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      AS PER THE EUROPEAN UNIONS RASFF FOOD SAFETY ALERT SERVICE, SO FAR THIS YEAR:

                                      Imported meat from Brazil was contaminated with Escherichia Coli and banned by several countries.

                                      Imported meat from Australia was seized by Italian officials after E Coli was discovered.

                                      EU alert for E Coli in locally produced beef in Belgium

                                      RASFF reports overall increases of Salmonella.

                                      Thai frozen chicken contaminated with Salmonella.

                                      Banned sale of contaminated Czech processed pork products where German pig meat was used.

                                      Salmonella alert with infected Belgian Chickens.

                                      Salmonella contamination found in Belgian Cordon Blue Pork.

                                      Spanish Salami w/excess nitrates.

                                      Excess levels of Trimethoprim in Danish Pork.

                                      Excess Zinc, Copper & Selenium in Polish exported dog food.

                                      THIS IS JUST WHAT WAS "DISCOVERED" BY EU COUNTRIES SO FAR THIS YEAR.

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        And what's the contamination level for non-factory farmed?

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Depends on how it's farmed instead, doesn't it?

                                        2. re: mcf

                                          Brazil's JBS is the largest multinational food processing co in the world. More recalls than you can shake a stick at but usually under a product label of a subsidiary.

                                          Canadian Co's have had more than a few too as have Mexican producers.

                                          1. re: Tom34

                                            It seems the bottom line is that until we can break many people's addiction to cheap beef, it's probably impossible to have truly safe beef.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Or sprouts, spinach, scallions, lettuce or any of the other veggies (many from EU) that have been subject to recalls due to deadly pathogens on them.

                                              Boy, if we could only break people's addiction to food, then we'd be truly safe.

                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                Well, since this is about beef, I'll leave those other things for another discussion :)

                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                  And in the U.S. Organic spinach, too, IIRC.

                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                  I have a relative who is a retired CEO of a multinational energy company and several years ago we had a discussion about a recent explosion at one of his refineries that left many people seriously burned and dead.

                                                  After a truly fascinating discussion on the history of the industry, what the industry has learned....... what they can do to prevent accidents & what they can't do to prevent accidents...... his answer basically was that from the upstream exploration end to the downstream refining end the energy business is a very dangerous industry and human error & mechanical failure can never be completely eliminated.

                                                  I think the food supply system suffers a similar fate with contamination. As we have discussed, ground beef is particularly vulnerable.

                                            2. re: Tom34

                                              Latest controversy involves allowing Brazilian steer into this country. To date they have been banned because they STILL have not eradicated Hoof & Mouth disease.

                                          2. re: Tom34

                                            Your point is well taken, I jus didn't want anyone to assume that the lack of grading in European beef meant that their overall standards are lower.

                                            I suppose nobody on Chowhound is familiar with the situation in Brazil or Argentina.....

                                            1. re: Steve

                                              Although as we don't grade our meat, and America does, then I'm not sure how anyone could evidence whether our overall standards are lower ot not. Certainly not objectively.

                                              All I can do when I go to the supermarket, the butcher or the farmers market, is look at the meat and decide if it looks of sufficient quality that I want to buy it. I know, of course, that it should be fit for human consumption following a carcass examination by Food Standards Authority meat inspectors at the time of slaughter - but certification that it's wholesome does not give the consumer the same detail as would be available to an American customer.

                                              That said, do I care that we don't have a grading system? No, I don't.

                                          3. re: Steve

                                            How can you say that this country doesn't have a health code rating system? I believe it began in CA and is now in NV and NY

                                            1. re: mucho gordo

                                              Restaurant health codes/inspections are handled at the state/county/municipality level, not the federal.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                The point is that the system DOES exist here.

                                              2. re: mucho gordo

                                                I believe Steve was talking about Europe.

                                                @paulj, I'm pretty sure that restaurant inspections are local but meat is federal.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  The USDA has had slaughterhouse inspectors for many decades.

                                                  But it is worth keeping mind that grading beef for marbling (premium, choice, etc) is quite different from dealing with health issues like salmonella contamination.

                                                  http://www.oregonlive.com/health/inde...
                                                  but this article points out that the USDA has limit powers when it comes to recalls, especially for bacterial contamination.

                                                  FDA and CDC are other agencies that can be involved in one way or other in meat safety issues.

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    Here's a really good summary of what each agency can do and does:

                                                    http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/consume...

                                                    And here's one about grading meat:

                                                    http://meat.tamu.edu/beefgrading/

                                                2. re: mucho gordo

                                                  Since I live in the DC area, I am consistently in three jurisdictions (MD,VA, DC) and I have yet to see signs on restaurants with their health grade. Haven't noticed it in recent trips to Florida or Pennsylvania either.

                                                  Notification, displayed prominently on the exterior front of the restaurant, is the system I was referring to.

                                                  Not that I care.

                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                    Steve, I think mg has perhaps confused restaurant inspections with meat inspections - two entirely different things.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      I think we're all a little bit confused!

                                                      It's good to know about E Coli alerts so we can all make informed decisions. But I am not sure that has anything to do with whether someone is pleased with the flavor of beef in the USA vs beef from elsewhere.

                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                        I agree Steve but many folks from the grass finished beef crowd like to diverge from discussions on flavor to sensationalized unbalanced discussions about Feedlot beef health concerns, often citing information from radical extreme fringe group web sites that are so scientifically unsound that its laughable.

                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                          Sensationalized and unbalanced? Last time around I provided you with citations from the CDC to refute such silly and flame baiting comments.

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            Its been a while MCF but the fact remains as per the European Union's RASFF report, contamination with mass produced food such as meat is a global issue and not limited to the US feedlot.

                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                              I never said it was. Straw man.

                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                Have a nice day.

                                                    2. re: Steve

                                                      http://doh.dc.gov/service/understandi...
                                                      is the DS description of food establishment health regulations. Establishments are inspected, given notice of things that need to be corrected, and the data is entered in a public database.

                                                      I don't know if the establishments have to post the inspection report anywhere. If they do it is more likely to be posted in the work area, as opposed to up front where customers can peruse it.

                                      2. re: carolinadawg

                                        Go to the link I provided above and check out this post:

                                        Alderspring May 12, 2007 09:36 PM

                                        Are you saying that the poster was making it up? Who cares about specific identity or credentials.... even people with credentials might have different opinions, but it does not mean the info or viewpoint they are providing is not from a professional source or inauthentic.

                                        1. re: Steve

                                          I'm not on any other boards but when I research things that credible CHs post I generally find it to be as described. But it's always a buyer beware situation. I'm not going to risk my life over non-pro, anonymous advice. So, yeah, Steve, I agree with you.

                                          1. re: Steve

                                            Alderspring is not a regular contributor, IIRC. If someone is selling something and promoting it here, I'd not take their word for much.

                                    2. The US & Canadian grading systems are pretty similar and easily researched. I can't speak to the S. American beef.
                                      .
                                      IMHO, there are 2 main camps when it comes to beef: (Grass fed, feedlot finished) & (grass fed, grass finished).

                                      Consensus seems to be Feedlot finished has more marbling and a milder "beef" flavor (vs) grass finished has less marbling and a stronger beef flavor. Which is better is up to the individual.

                                      The leaning out of beef and the changing of the grades is yet another discussion.

                                      Wet aged boxed beef vs dry aged hanging beef is yet another discussion.

                                      16 Replies
                                      1. re: Tom34

                                        I know I ventured from government standards but there as many or more factors other than government standards that influence beef quality. Very subjective subject.

                                        1. re: Tom34

                                          Tom, I assume you deliberately left out the camp of all grain raised and finished?

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            Hey Oliver,

                                            Most N. American beef is grass raised & feedlot finished. I am not sure what grain raised / grain finished is. Possibly extremely young super marbled Kobe?

                                            1. re: Tom34

                                              Years ago, beef was proudly labeled, "corn fed'. Not sure for how long it was corn fed, though.

                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                And, of course, now we know that we're killing those cows on that diet :( That's why they have to pump them full of antibiotics.

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  I think some of the labeling was misleading. The feedlot has a diminishing return. It quickly fattens but is very expensive. Kind of a fine balance. Also digestive problems with prolonged grain/corn diet which Oliver points out.

                                                  IMHO, biggest difference (now vs then) is the change in the grading & wet aged boxed beef vs dry aged hanging beef. Japan's deep pockets for the best also limits availability of top prime.

                                                2. re: Tom34

                                                  I guess I'm thinking in terms of how long they spend in CAFOs. We had neighbors who were small scale ranchers who "finished" them on grain but it was a very short period of time. The feedlot cattle can double their weight on grains. But that's probably not the point of this thread.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    It may not be the point of this thread, but as you say, Gov standards are only one part of the quality equation.... Breeding/genetics, quality of forage, age, time on the feedlot, small farm vs commercial operation.....many many factors....some of which Gov standards regulate, some of which they don't.

                                                3. re: c oliver

                                                  Um, there's no such camp of all grain raised and finished. As Tom34 points out, nearly all North American beef has grass in its diet at some point until it goes to feedlot. And while I've said "nearly all" to leave some wiggle room, I can't think of any widespread exceptions to that and really mean "all".

                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                    My reply upthread clarified/corrected what I originally wrote. I think that CFAOs don't exactly "finish" their cows on grain. They spend a large amount of their short lives on it. Or that's what Michael Pollan and others are saying and I tend to agree with them.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      Here's directly from Michael Pollan:

                                                      "And in the case of beef, keep in mind that all cattle are fed grass until they get to the feedlot; “grass finished” or “100% grass fed” is what you want. "
                                                      http://michaelpollan.com/resources/an...

                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                        http://www.factory-farming.com/beef_p...

                                                        This is a biased article but the facts are generally correct. The CAFO cows are put on grains far sooner than a small operation. They gain a huge amount of their weight on that.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          Most cattle in the US have their diet supplemented with some grain before they go to feedlot. The difference is what the % of grain is in their diet and certainly would not be "all grain raised" even in the fastest of scenarios. I wouldn't necessarily label a pen during backgrounding as CAFO. And even that website understands:
                                                          "Beef Production in the U.S. is unique in that the CAFO only comes into play during the latter months of the cows life. Typically beef cattle are born on an independent ranch somewhere in the west. "

                                                          Here's Niman Ranch's beef protocol for its suppliers,
                                                          http://www.nimanranch.com/Files/Husba...
                                                          Grains are allowed in the feed, but no antibiotics.

                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                        http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal...
                                                        USDA description of beef cattle market and practices.

                                                        According to this cattle spend about 140 days in feedlots.
                                                        http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_old_are...
                                                        "Grain-fed beefers (steers and heifers) are slaughtered around 18 to 24 months of age. Grass-fed beefers are slaughtered around 24 to 28 months of age."

                                                        So in the USA most cattle spend 1 to 1 1/2 yrs in pasture or open range; then they are sold as 'feeder cattle' (weight around 600 lb). Then they spend 4-5 months in the feed lot, putting on another 400 lb.

                                                      3. re: Melanie Wong

                                                        Veal?

                                                      4. re: c oliver

                                                        Is there such a thing?

                                                    2. When you say "standards" -- do you mean inspection standards for beef or standards for breeding/raising cattle? Or maybe both?

                                                      Also, are you comparing the US just to developed countries, or to any country, developed, developing, or something inbetween?

                                                      93 Replies
                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        I didn't mean anything specific, so if you have any knowledge regarding any of that, please share.

                                                        In terms of the 'world,' I have worked with Kenyans and Ethiopians in the DC area that have told me they don't like our beef. So I suppose anywhere could be part of the conversation.

                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                          Unfortunately I don't.

                                                          I asked only because I think depending on what you are asking about and the relevant parameters, the answers will probably vary, quite dramatically in some cases.

                                                          As an aside, in reference to what your Kenyan and Ethiopian friends mentioned about how they "don't like" the beef in the U.S., I think we sometimes have to be careful that personal preferences as to taste and/or texture oftentimes have little to do with government or regulatory standards. In many ways, as we are creatures of habit, what we like often tend to be things we grew up with, not products resulting from "higher standards".

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            I am slipping over to the dark side. I agree with you.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              "...what we like often tend to be things we grew up with, not products resulting from "higher standards"."

                                                              This could not be more true. I was raised on corn fed beef. I like corn fed beef and its incredible amount of marbling. I have tried grass fed and it just seems odd to me.

                                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                                But the corn-fed beef of the past had FLAVOR. Today's corn-fed is tasteless. There has to be more to it than corn vs. grass!

                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                  Maybe it's an increase in use of growth promotants?
                                                                  http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/courses/...

                                                                  1. re: drongo

                                                                    Fascinating article - to me. I didn't know about those implants. Thanks for sharing.

                                                                  2. re: sandylc

                                                                    I think some key turning points came in the 60's - 80's.

                                                                    Prior to boxed beef, the industry was slow by today's standards. Beef carcasses were slower to leave the plant, slower to reach distribution points and slower to reach retail outlets where they could hang around for days or even weeks longer. All the while they were dry aging on the bone.

                                                                    Today's boxed beef receives no dry aging and often reaches the retail shelves within a week of slaughter.

                                                                    Then came the changes made to the grading system which to make a long story short resulted in leaner beef for the average consumer.

                                                                  3. re: jpc8015

                                                                    I agree. I just tried grass fed top sirloin. I was so disappointed. I also grew up on scrumptious beef with yellow fat and lots of flavor. I miss it.

                                                                    1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                      Good feedlot beef can still be had but will bring on average a 25% premium price for high choice and up to a 100% premium for high prime.

                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                        Tom, how does one fine that beef please?

                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                          I have found that the certified beef programs that are UDSA graded with a choice marbling score of Moderate or higher are consistently marbled in the top of the choice grade and sometimes flirt with prime. Certified Angus Beef (CAB) and Excel's Sterling Silver are 2 of the oldest programs and their products are widely used in fine dining restaurants. Rastelli Elite is another outstanding product. Ranchers Reserve which I think is IBP is another good product.

                                                                          Many supermarkets offer the above products, usually at a 25% premium.

                                                                          High prime with a moderately abundant marbling score will usually have to be order from a place like Lobels or a local butcher can usually bring in a whole sub primal. We are also talking close to 3 times the cost of good choice beef.

                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                            Thanks. Safeway out here (just bought by Albertson's) carries Ranchers Reserve. Now that I know why it's more expensive, that makes sense.

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              I've tried the Ranchers Reserve a few times and it's been disappointing unfortunately. I've given up on meat from Safeway other than the grass fed beef and lamb.

                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                You can get grass fed at Safeway? I can't. And the lamb selection is tiny.

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  I don't shop there much anymore but they do have an Open Nature grass fed beef line, just a few cuts so you might have to hunt. The lamb is also Open Nature if I remember.

                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                    I'll keep an eye out. There's also one in Reno where we live part time. I rarely go there cause it's out of my way but will check it out. Thanks, fld.

                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                      I checked at our usual Safeway yesterday and they do, in fact, have a small selection of Open Nature and that's the label on the lamb also. I continue to learn so much (and spend more money as a result!) from CHs. Thanks, fld.

                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                    They just started offering it here in the western states C. It is imported from Australia. Finding a butcher near you who sells local grass fed will probably taste better. Open Nature grass fed beef is rank:(!!!!!

                                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                                  Keep in mind Oliver most supermarkets cut their steaks a little on the thin side to meet a price point.

                                                                                  If you go during off hours, say 9 am during the week, the meat cutters should be happy to cut you a nice 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 thick steak. Center cut is also nice.

                                                                                  Season that baby, place on a wire rack and let it sit uncovered over night in the refrigerator to dry the surface, take out 2 hrs before cooking, nice char on the outside, M/R on the inside & your visits to expensive steakhouses will diminish.

                                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                                    Thanks. OT but I just gotta tell ya that one of my oldest and dearest friends has only ever called me "Oliver." If he ever calls me by my first name, I'll know he hates me :)

                                                                                    Now I'll return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

                                                                                    We don't DO steakhouses but do treat ourselves to a nice thick steak on occasion. Appreciate the timing advice.

                                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                                      Is that why they do that? Drives me crazy.

                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                        Yeah, I have a friend who is a union meat cutter for a supermarket and he told me that a thick boneless strip that weighs 20 oz gives people sticker shock.

                                                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                                                      Another thread suggested that Harris Ranch brand is superior to Ranchers Reserve . I have no idea how to find links and post them but I will try.

                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                    Lobel's (NYC and online). Quite a splurge, but it's the best beef I've ever come across in this country.

                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                      I'm surprised they sell feedlot beef. At those prices!

                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                        Grass finished beef cannot compete in taste tests. You can only get well-marbled prime from grain finished beef. AFAIK, all grain-finished beef is from feedlots. The grading of marbling of fat has nothing to do with how the steer was raised/fed; it's an objective, visual standard.

                                                                                        That said, I like the taste of grass-finished beef, particularly the French Charolais. The best steak I ever had was labelled Piece de Boeuf in an Alsatian village. Definitely grass-fed, and incredibly flavorful. I think that that French notion of "terroir" might come into play here.

                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                          Depends on who is doing the tasting, per my OP.

                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                            Here's a little anecdotal article:

                                                                                            http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkint...

                                                                                            I'd suggest that the dry-aging plays a huge part in the end result.

                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                              I agree completely. I would respectfully suggest that this is nearly 100% of the observed difference, rather than the feeding process.

                                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                I know we are both all about the importance of properly aging beef AC but I think the feeding process plays a significant role in the final flavor profile.

                                                                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                I think that this is not a good comparison. Better would be to compare a dry-aged grass fed/finished steak with a dry-aged grass-fed/grain-finished steak ( a la Lobel's). I think that the grain-finished would win in a landslide.

                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                  Sorry. I never meant that it was a good comparison. I gather from all I read is that it's very much personal preference and that people who have always/mostly eaten grain-finished are going to prefer it. And then when they have an aged, grain-finished steak, they're REALLY going to love it.

                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    Almost all of us in the U.S. grew up eating grain and corn fed in the U.S. mass marketplace.

                                                                                                    Many of us have made the switch and prefer grass fed. I barfed from the sight of yogurt as a kid and love it as an adult.

                                                                                                    We mature, our priorities change, yada yada... ;-)

                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                      That's the beauty of food, something for everyone :-)

                                                                                                    2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                      I agree with Steve, depends on who is doing the tasting.

                                                                                                      I agree with you Pikawicca that dry aged, grain finished high prime beef is the winner hands down and its my favorite meal. I think it would also easily win in the US & Canada.

                                                                                                      I wouldn't wan't to bet much money on the outcome of such a test in Europe as our beef has a much milder flavor and the abundance of melted fat may be a turnoff to folks not used to it.

                                                                                          2. re: Tom34

                                                                                            Tom 34 I bought the Open Nature top sirloin grass fed @Safeway. Discovered it was imported from Australia.Very rank. I then discovered I am living 8 city blocks north of a butcher shop who sells local (California) grass fed beef. And of course many other great selections. I am planning a trip there soon. I SO miss the delicious beef from the late 50's and 60's here in California. The fat was yellow ( and we ate it!!!!) and the bones oozed good intense beefy flavor. I am really looking forward to the possibility of sourcing some tasty beef at that shop! I am also looking forward to having a conversation with an expert about beef(the butcher/owner).

                                                                                            1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                              Please do post about the butcher shop on the California board with more details when you've had a chance to visit.

                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                I will, I am excited about it.

                                                                                                1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                  Bear in mind that there's a seasonality to grassfed beef. Summer slaughter beef is considered superior.

                                                                                              2. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                A good experiment with the independent butcher would be to get 3 steaks (identical cuts) all aged to 28 days:

                                                                                                1. Locally sourced grass finished steak.

                                                                                                2. High prime grain finished.

                                                                                                3, High choice grain finished.

                                                                                                The local grass finished & the high prime should be close to the same price. The high choice should be about 50% less. Cook them at the same time to the same finish temp and compare.

                                                                                                PS: I found our local ShopRites Australian grass finished beef to be dry, chewy & sour tasting.

                                                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                  if you're referring to the clayton's organic beef that shoprite sells, it is NOT grass finished. "Clayton Organic cattle are sustainable, and humanely raised beef. Our beef comes from animals that are free-range and grass fed in its’ early days, then corn/grain-finished for 100 days."

                                                                                                  http://www.claytonsorganicbeef.com/

                                                                                                  1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                    I am thinking (and my thought may be no good) that Claytons is a pretty recent addition to ShopRite's offerings.

                                                                                                    The stuff I bought was a long term ShopRite Australian product and I think I bought it about 4 to 5 years ago. Practically devoid of marbling.

                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                      I do have to admit that the Open Nature (I believe it was) grass fed flank steak looked marvelous. It had a lot of nice yellow marbling throughout. I don't cook/eat flank steaks so I passed.

                                                                                                      1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                        I LOVE flank steak, though it's a lean cut. Very good flavor, and ground, makes delicious burgers.

                                                                                                        1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                          Mama this grass finished (vs) feedlot debate is never ending. As a few folks have pointed out, much has to do with what a person was brought up with.

                                                                                                          To me the key is consistency, which in the US, is where IMHO, the feedlot has a huge advantage. I have 3 whole 0x1 high choice strip loins aging in the extra refrig as we speak. I know what to look for and hand picked them and I can say with certainty that they will be phenomenal.

                                                                                                          Grass finished on the other hand is much more difficult to visually evaluate. I have a friend who is an old school hanging beef butcher in his 60's who said with 95% accuracy he can judge feedlot beef but with grass finished he said its a crap shoot "visually". He said with grass finished its all about knowing the farmer who raised it.

                                                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                            That is why I want to try the local gf beef(raised on a cattle ranch in Sacramento, Ca. that has been a viable business x150 years) before I rule anything out. Plus the butcher will have a larger selection and will have aged grass fed beef also. And if I don't like the gf beef there his site advertises dry aged (28 day I believe) prime beef. We shall see. Maybe I can score some decent marrow bones there! Thank you for being a wealth of information. I assume you are either in the *business* or like me a person who longs for delicious steaks and roasts.

                                                                                                    2. re: Tom34

                                                                                                      I will try. I am willing to cough up a few bucks in an attempt to get something that has the potential to be scrumptious. BTW the Open Nature top sirloin was moist and tender but to me it had that gamey after taste that venison and lamb have. Not as pronounced as that but enough to make me lose my appetite.

                                                                                                      1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                        Just for an alternate opinion, I've had the Open Nature top sirloin several times and enjoyed it. Quality was similar to the Whole Foods top sirloin that I buy most of the time.

                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                          The Open Nature top sirloin is what I have here and a small rib eye. The sirloin was tender and moist but it had a distinct rank overpowering musty flavor. I want to try the local. I had a similar experience with the high fat content butter my daughter brought us from New Zealand from grass fed cows in a little round gold tin).My taste buds were overwhelmed with the richness. I will do a beef tasting as Tom suggested.

                                                                                                        2. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                          I'd be thrilled with any beef that tasted like venison.

                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                            I've never understood people who describe lamb as gamey. Since it isn't game. To me it tastes like...lamb. And is as mild in flavor or even more so at times than beef.

                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                              I think those people try to compare other meats to beef which is the most prevalent meat, There is no comparison as all meats have their own distinct taste. Since they are similar, one might compare bison/buffalo to steer beef and consider them gamey.

                                                                                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                "Since they are similar, one might compare bison/buffalo to steer beef and consider them gamey"...except that they are not gamey they just taste like bison not beef :)

                                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                  Exactly, but isn't bison/buffalo, technically, a type of beef?

                                                                                                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                    not really -- both are members of the higher classification of Bovinae, but Bison are a different genus than cattle

                                                                                                                2. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                  Since true game is rare in the USA, most of us don't have a clear sense of what 'gamey' tastes like.

                                                                                                                  Supposedly it's mature mutton that's supposed to taste gamey. Lamb much less so.

                                                                                                                  To me, the most obvious difference between lamb and beef (and even more so pork) is the melting point of its fat. Lamb fat has a higher melting point, and solidifies sooner (in the worse case on the roof of my mouth).

                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                    Well, I'd say that since domestic sheep aren't game, then they couldn't taste like game.

                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                      well, exactly...

                                                                                                                      and while "true game" isn't *easily* available in stores, it is most definitely available, and plenty of Americans eat game that has never seen a supermarket.

                                                                                                                    2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                      I remember tasting venison as a child and knowing immediately that it was gamey.I don't know how to describe the taste other than strong and a bit unpleasant. The only other meat I find to be a bit gamey is goat (birria)..

                                                                                                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                        Farmed venison is likely to be quite mild in flavour - milder than beef which has been hung for, say, 28 - 35 days. Wild venison can be nicely flavoured as it's usually shot when older.

                                                                                                                        By the by, I have never understood why Americans describe lamb as "gamey", I've always suspected that those who do possibly havnt tasted much game either, as it doesnt taste like most game I eat. I find that lamb tastes like lamb - again age will be a thing. Young lamb will be sweet and very mild, hogget will have good taste and mutton will be fantastic. I wonder if some folk use "gamey" instead of "I don't like this".

                                                                                                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                          depends on what the creature ate...

                                                                                                                          Deer hunted near expanses of corn or wheat fields are quite mild -- those reduced to foraging evergreen groves or similar can have quite a distinctive resiny flavor.

                                                                                                                        2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                          Lamb is rank to me. I do not care for the strong flavor. Many people describe it as gamey. I grew up consuming venison, duck, rabbit, wild caught fish of all types and many foraged foods. My father hunted and fished. Many of my young male relatives still hunt and fish. Can you please clarify your statement that *true game is rare* here in the U.S.?

                                                                                                                          1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                            remember that Harters is a visitor here in the US, so has sometimes a slightly skewed view of "real life"

                                                                                                                            Because it is not legal to walk into a store to buy field-killed game in the US, I can totally see where Harters would draw that conclusion -- but you and I both know that there is plenty of game consumed in the US...it just isn't purchased from a store.

                                                                                                                            Not a strike against you at all, Harters -- you don't really have much reason to know that a lot of us grew up on and continue to consume game brought in by amateur hunters, nor that farm-raised game is not an everyday occurrence, but not really hard to come by, either.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                              I have yet to taste farm raised game. I loved all of the bounty my father and his buddies hunted, fished and foraged. I would love to try some farm raised venison.

                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                Sunshine

                                                                                                                                Yes, I understand the hunting culture in parts of America. But I cannot credit that folk used to eating game would generally describe lamb as gamey. Which game? Rabbit? Pheasant? Deer? Pigeon? These are all very different flavoursto me, just as lamb, beef, chicken, pork taste different.

                                                                                                                                I also find it interesting that many Americans who do eat lamb find Australian or New Zealand lamb to be strongly flavoured in comparison with American lamb - whereas, in the UK, I don't buy it as I find it much too bland in comparision with British lamb. Different expectations, different tastes, I reckon.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                  We've talked on other threads about "gamey" as having a somewhat locker-room quality.

                                                                                                                                  I'm don't tend to use the word, because I don't find lamb 'gamey', and prefer to buy NZ and AUS lamb *because* it tastes like lamb (and the finest lamb I've ever had was, believe it or not, at the restaurant at the Holiday Inn in Runcorn -- go figure....)

                                                                                                                                  My father hunted, so I grew up on venison, rabbit, duck, quail....so I don't really get the "ew, it's gamey" comment, either.

                                                                                                                                  I can only guess that those who complain about gaminess are not those who've eaten it most of their lives.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                    I think we're on the same bus, sunshine.

                                                                                                                                    And I dread to think what brought you to Runcorn. There are few less green and pleasant parts of this green and pleasant land. :-)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                      I was visiting the ginormous B&Q distribution centre round the corner from that hotel. (the Hilton in Southampton also has good lamb, but not as stellar as the lamb in Runcorn!)

                                                                                                                                      I've spent a lot of years in odd little corners of the UK -- spent a lot of time in Warrington, too! (my UK partner was based there -- I was working with Focus by that time) And we took part in the G&S Opera Festivals in Buxton several times.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                      I grew up eating it weekly, and loved it. But I taste the lambiness. It's certainly stronger than venison to me, greatly so.

                                                                                                                                2. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                  I'm thinking that as someone said here, you just don't like lamb. In no way does lamb have a "strong" flavor. We recently had some that I wanted to talk to the chef and say, by way of criticism, that it could just as easily have been beef for the taste.

                                                                                                                                  I think paulj is correct. Except if you hunt it yourself or someone gives you some, most other game has been farm raised and, as sunshine says, meat tastes like what it has been fed.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                    Lamb has a very lamby, or gamey flavor if it's from Oz or NZ especially. Colorado lamb less so. But I'm always aware of it, and even though I love lamb, sometimes am very turned off by it.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                      To me it tastes like lamb, not gamey. Very mild flavor.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                        totally agree.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                          I would never argue with your personal experience with the taste of lamb. I will say that the sensitivity of receptors to various tastes has a huge genetic component to it, and your experience doesn't mean lamb isn't lamby or gamey. It just means you're lucky enough to be insensitive to it.

                                                                                                                                          There's no basis for this: "I'm thinking that as someone said here, you just don't like lamb. In no way does lamb have a "strong" flavor."

                                                                                                                                          What's up with telling another person what she tastes???

                                                                                                                                          I like lamb, despite its strong, and often gamey flavor. You can find references to it all over the place; I rarely read a lamb discussion in which it's not mentioned. Here's one google search, very typical: https://www.google.com/search?q=is+la...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                            My rationale is as already stated. It's not "game" so it can't taste "gamey." It tastes like lamb. They're generally slaughtered between four and twelve months and I'd imagine that the older ones have more lamb flavor than the young ones. The word "gamey" is simply a misnomer. Many people don't like many foods. Lamb tastes like lamb.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                              Your right, different animals taste different. My daughters love beef and have tried high quality Lamb chops on several occasions. Each time I studied their facial expressions on the first bite & I could see they sensed the difference. The Bewitched crinkled nose told me they didn't like it. The same could be said for my wife.

                                                                                                                                              Now, if I served it regularly for several months they would probably acquire the taste and love it. From my wallets point of view, that experiment would be counter productive.

                                                                                                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                Thank you for saying what I've been thinking. I never understood that description either.

                                                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                  We split some great discussion on cooking lamb over to the Home Cooking board at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/968624 Check it out!

                                                                                                                    3. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                      Did you know to cook it differently from grain or corn fed? I didn't at first. I would not choose a very lean cut for grass fed. But the gf flank and ribeyes I buy are buttery, with a lot of minerality due to the vegetation consumed.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                        That is where I believe my *super tasting* issue is coming from. I am over tasting *vegetation* ( or I am imagining I am). The top sirloin was buttery and tender. I am not giving up just yet.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                          Ah... well depending what was growing and grazed on, you'll get different flavors. I love gf beef, but never again from NZ, frex.

                                                                                                                    4. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                      On a few occasions I have had fabulous grass finished beef that I was still thinking about days after I ate it. Unfortunately, most of the grass finished beef I have had was tough, dry & had what "I" considered a sour flavor. But as others have pointed out, its what your used to.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                    Hey Steve,

                                                                                                                    "Stark" differences in flavor and texture more often than not have to do with grass finished (vs) feedlot finished. The US relies heavily on the feedlot. Many other countries do not.

                                                                                                                  3. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                    In the AYCE thread, I mentioned Brazilian rodizio as another type of buffet. c. oliver posted the following:"I've eaten at them in Brazil and consider the meat subpar considering the price."
                                                                                                                    I replied that meat standards in Brazil may be the reason and he should try one in this country.

                                                                                                                    1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                      I consider ALL AYCE meats subpar, regardless of the country.

                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                        Words fail me.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                          Well, THAT'S a first :) My point is that I'd rather always have four ounces of cooked to order steak than the way AYCE is done. But that is still a subject for the AYCE thread not this one. I just wanted to clarify for mucho gordo.

                                                                                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                          I can understand your way of thinking if the meat spent hours in a steam table but, with a rodizio, that same 4oz steak is freshly carved to order right from the skewer at your table.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                            mg, I'm not going to argue with you and I'm certainly not going to do it on this thread which has NOTHING to do with AYCE.

                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                              My intent was to understand, not argue. Are we good?

                                                                                                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                                Sure. Go in peace :)

                                                                                                                          2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                            Not when it comes to rodizio... it can be superb, it's not like a food bar with a sneeze guard. They have a variety of cuts and varied doneness an come around and slice to order at your table.

                                                                                                                      2. A difficult and, I think, fairly wide question.

                                                                                                                        There are possibly questions here about the raising of cattle, the quality of meat and, possibly, how it tastes.

                                                                                                                        I am British, living in the UK, so can really only make a comment from that aspect - not even the whole of the European Union has common standards.

                                                                                                                        With regard to animal welfare, the UK and, I assume, the US, has generally high standards. It would be very rare for me to hear of prosecutions of cattle farmers for welfare issues and this perhaps should be the standard by which Americans judge their own systems. On a slight tack, I'm aware that British welfare standards for raising of veal lead in Europe, although EU regulations will spread across the continent in coming years.

                                                                                                                        In terms of quality of meat, I know the US grades its meat that is suitable for human consumption. I confess to having little knowledge about how this works and/or whether it is really relevent. By comparision, I don't know of any European country which does the same. In the supermarket or a butchers shop, beef is beef is beef. In the UK, we may well take note of any labelling as to whether it is organic or how long it has been hung for. In that, American standards may indeed be higher than elsewhere in the world (although that's dependent on how relevant the grading system is).

                                                                                                                        As for taste, it's a very subjective issue and I suspect there is much to do with folk liking what they are used to liking. I'll express the personal view that, generally speaking, I find American beef (in the form of steak) to be very tender but very bland in taste in comparision with European beef. I find it so disappointing that I now rarely order a steak when visiting the States. I suspect there's probably a combination of factors at play - breed of cattle, method of raising, age at slaughter, length of hanging time.

                                                                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                          I agree with you, Harters --

                                                                                                                          without any details as to the actual regulations:

                                                                                                                          Europe does not have a feedlot system at all. Their beef is, to me, not as tender, but the flavor is stellar...I do know that beef animals are older, and are generally pastured.

                                                                                                                          The US has meltingly tender beef with nice flavor (primal cuts having better flavor than steaks...) -- but the flavor isn't anywhere near as pronounced and savoury as the flavor of European cows.

                                                                                                                          I find the UK to be somewhere in the middle...more tender beef than the EU, with a flavor more pronounced than the US. I have no idea of the farm-to-table process.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                            Much of the UK supermarket beef is only OK. Reasonably happy to buy for long-cooked meals - stews, ragu, braising - that sort of thing. But you're not looking at high welfare meat or a long hanging period and you are looking at animals slaughtered whilst quite immature (so flavour hasnt developed).

                                                                                                                            I tend to buy my meat either at the farmers market or direct over the internet from a local farm. Both farms I've bought from recently raise Galloways or Aberdeen Angus. They tend not to slaughter until the animals are 30 months old and them leave them to hang for 21 - 28 days. In both cases, butchery is carried out on the farm. In both cases, the animals are completely pasture reared (although will be brought into shelter in bad winter weather, where they'll eat sillage)

                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                              The US feedlot cows are slaughtered early perhaps because their diet will eventually make them sick.

                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                I would bet that it is because they have reached their physical maturity at a younger age. Letting them get older will do nothing to increase the dollars per animal that they can get. I am sure that someone has charted out the cost of keeping the animals and compared it with the increase in value for keeping the animal and have determined the most cost effective moment of butchering.

                                                                                                                                This is not to say that their diets won't make them sick though.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                  Point taken. After reading Omnivore's Dilemma, it was a real eye opener.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                    I think your on the right track JPC. The feed lot is expensive, especially when drought and Gov ethanol mandates put pressure on key feedlot products. Animal age is also a significant factor in the US grading system. Its definitely not a knee jerk industry. A lot of science and math behind decisions.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                      Bad science. Math = $$$$$$

                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                        Making money & producing a good product often go hand in hand.

                                                                                                                                        From an end product perspective, my issue with grass finished is inconsistency which has been backed up by comments from grass finished ranchers. Niche markets yes, supplying 300 million people, not even a wet dream.

                                                                                                                                        We simply have not gotten to the point yet where the average consumer can go into an average supermarket and consistently get a high quality grass finished steak at any price let alone an affordable one. Argue till your blue in the face but the facts just aren't on your side and probably won't be in your lifetime.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                          Could we get a citation for that please?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                            Good luck with that :-)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                              on what? Tom knows I've posted many refuting his assertions in the past. If you have another idea, let's see your citations to support it.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                I don't think its bad science. I think its about producing a product that the majority of the US population desires at a cost they can afford. We are not alone either as a large percentage of the feedlots fattiest beef is exported to some of the wealthiest populations in the world.

                                                                                                                                                A better example of (bad science....Math = $$$$$) is a former government official flying around the world on "private jets" touting climate change using research that contain holes big enough to sneak a Carrier group through.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                  ManBearPig is real.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                    Nowhere that beef are CAFO raised or corn and grain fed has high animal welfare standards. Certainly not in the U.S. where downer cows (they can't stand) are put on a belt and rolled into slaughter.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                      At least things like that eventually make the news in the US and Gov inspectors and Journalist investigate the incidents. I wonder what priority Putin assigns to such things.

                                                                                                                                  3. I don't know about government standards, but I can just say about taste (a totally subjective thing) that Argentines, Brazilians and Chileans don't even think of the US as a "beef country"--and consider US meat to be subpar. Even in Germany, people will think of Australia and Argentina when you say "beef" long before the US. I guess it's just a matter of perceptions. In South America, people don't seem to perceive the US as a big agricultural producer at all.

                                                                                                                                    85 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                                      http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal...
                                                                                                                                      USA beef exports are about 9% of total production. Top export markets are Japan, Mexico, S Korea and Canada.

                                                                                                                                      http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal...
                                                                                                                                      Beef exports took a nosedive in 2003 due to Canadian BSE.

                                                                                                                                      USA imports about as much beef as it exports.

                                                                                                                                      "Currently, Canada remains one of the significant suppliers of beef to the United States in addition to Australia and New Zealand. Most of the beef imported from Australia and New Zealand goes into processed products such as ground beef. ...U.S. imports from both Argentina and Brazil are restricted to cooked products because of disease restrictions, but these two countries provide a significant portion of the total cooked beef imported into the United States."

                                                                                                                                      Regarding import cooked beef, consumers mainly see canned corned beef. In Asian markets I've seen Australian and NZ corned beef, which generally sells for more than the more common South American cans.

                                                                                                                                      Besides processed beef, there is trade in 'live' cattle (destined for immediate slaughter) and feeder cattle (destined for feed lots). Most this US trade is with Mexico and Canada.

                                                                                                                                      A while back I saw cable documentary about a livestock carrier, a ship taking cattle from Australia to Singapore. This type of ship can carry up to 10-20,000 head of cattle (and many more sheep).
                                                                                                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livestoc...
                                                                                                                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-epz3D...

                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                        Very interesting. As a sort of related tangential aside, the US was an exporter of petroleum until the late 60s, but by the early 70s had turned into a net importer.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                                        "Argentines, Brazilians and Chileans don't even think of the US as a "beef country"--and consider US meat to be subpar"

                                                                                                                                        Just curious, what makes you say that?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                          I've lived in Chile for 15 years and teach English, which also means a lot of conversation classes--which includes food and agriculture topics. Over the years, I've noticed this tendency among "regular people" (not highly educated government officials, or specialists or anything like that). They tend to think of the US as a military power, an "advanced", lets say industrial country--but not agricultural. When I mention wine, or wheat, or beef, or whatever, there's usually an element of surprise. They same has come up in conversations with other people.

                                                                                                                                          The subpar meat comment comes up occasionally. It's anecdotal, but an Argentine friend of mines brother has a restaurant in Naples, FL and apparently comments on the "terrible state of beef" in the US (no flavor, etc...). Of course, Argentines are VERY nationalistic about their food--so it may just be that.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                                            I have read a lot of posts on this subject over the years and a couple common themes keep resurfacing:

                                                                                                                                            1. Grass finished beef has a stronger beef flavor. Type and maturity of grass impact flavor. Type of aging, wet vs dry and length of aging impact flavor.

                                                                                                                                            2. Grain/Corn finished beef has a milder fattier flavor. Fat has lots of flavor but its a different flavor. Type of aging, wet vs dry and length of aging impact flavor.

                                                                                                                                            Now in the case of US feedlot beef, high choice and prime have nice marbling and therefore a rich fatty flavor.

                                                                                                                                            However, Select grade and the bottom of the Choice grade do not have high marbling scores and therefore do not have a rich fatty flavor. They typically also only receive the bare minimum "wet" aging. End result is a bland product that does not have a strong beef flavor nor a rich fatty flavor. This also happens to be the category that a whole lot of supermarket beef falls into. IMHO, this category of beef lacks a lot of things and flavor is most certainly one of them. I don't like it and would be shocked if a foreigner would either.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                              I have some slight disagreement here. The beef I grew up eating was corn-fed and very beefy-tasting as well as fatty.

                                                                                                                                              Also, prime grade beef these days has less fat than choice did a few decades ago - next to none.

                                                                                                                                              It is really irritating that butchers trim off most of the edge fat now, also.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                Some flavor differences can probably be attributed to the switch from dry aged hanging beef to wet aged box beef. The efficiency of boxed beef has also decreased the age time.

                                                                                                                                                The grading system was also changed in the 1980's to promote leaner beef.

                                                                                                                                                Good beef is still available. Have to know what to look for and dig deeper in the pockets. For years I have been buying high quality sub primals, aging them at home, portioning & vacuum sealing. Great results every time.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                  Tom, if you don't already have a thread about aging at home, could you start one and give a link here please? If you have the time. I for one would be interested. Seems like a way to lower the cost/#. TIA.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                    Is "C" ok :-).....There are several good threads on the subject. If they don't come up, go to acgold7's profile. He has done a lot of experimenting, aging different cuts & different age times and has written some pretty informative posts on the subject. Fourunder is another good source.

                                                                                                                                                    Its really not complicated and the gist of it is:

                                                                                                                                                    (WET AGING) Put a whole cryovaced subprimal on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and let it sit about 28 days from the date on the box it came out of. Remove from the Cryovac, rinse under cold water and cut it up.

                                                                                                                                                    (DRY AGING) Remove the subprimal from the cryovac, rinse under cold water, pat dry, place on a wire rack over a sheet pan and put on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. After about 28 days (or more depending on the flavor profile you are looking for), remove from the refrigerator, cut off the bark and portion cut into steaks.

                                                                                                                                                    Most prefer using a spare refrigerator, especially for dry aging. Some have even rigged fans inside.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                      I do a mini dry aging with thick steaks in the fridge on a rack in a pan... a couple of days before griling. Really concentrates the flavor.

                                                                                                                                                      coliver, have you seen what Tom refers to as "bark?" Seeing it in Fairway is enough to almost turn me off to beef.

                                                                                                                                                      But it's good if it gets to your plate.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                        When I see that bark it makes me hungry :) I do about a five day, dry aging for rib roasts. But I try not to let guests see it as some may be squeamish as you are :)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                          I don't think you get the black and blue spreading fungal looking stuff I see in the dry aging case at Fairway in five days!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                            Never said I did. But it can get pretty black during that time.

                                                                                                                                                            We were just at Costco and saw the whole, boneless ribeye (our fave) for $6.49/#. We're leaving the country in a couple of weeks but when we return - and have 28 days :) - we're going to dry-age one.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                              My point was, the stuff at Fairway is beyond looking like a disgusting black, blue and green mass. I haven't seen that in my fridge yet.

                                                                                                                                                              At least, not on purpose. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                I'm looking forward to it actually.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                  I need someone else to handle it. I'm all about it after that.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                    Just general squeamishness? We eat so much weird food that a little mold is fine :)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not squeamish in general, I ate escargot, raw clams and oysters when not much otder than pre school, love moldy cheeses. I nandle guts an slime to do meal prep, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                      But I could live without seeing the dry aged meat before it hits my plate.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                          I started doing the 24 to 48 hour uncovered individual steak on a rack thing too with wet aged beef....I think I got it from either AC or Fourunder. At a minimum it dries the surface which speeds up the charring process.

                                                                                                                                                          Not necessary with dry aged beef.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                            I do that as well it's great

                                                                                                                                                        3. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                          Ms C, if you please :)

                                                                                                                                                          Thanks. Thanks for the primer and the sources. I was figuring a separate fridge.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                            OK :-)................What wholesale clubs do you have within a reasonable distance? Costco seems to be a pretty popular place to get whole subprimals for aging.

                                                                                                                                                            Certified Angus Beef is a very trusted brand in the fine dining restaurant category for both high choice & prime. Any independent butcher shop should be able to bring in a boneless CAB sub primal at about a 20% markup as there is no labor on his end to portion it. I think you would be very happy with the end result if you added 28 days of dry age to it.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                              Do you think this chart is pretty good.

                                                                                                                                                              http://www.tscra.org/education/BeefCu...

                                                                                                                                                              We have Costco here but also have local ranchers like this:

                                                                                                                                                              http://www.albaughranch.com/sales.html

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                The chart pretty much sums it up.

                                                                                                                                                                I think feedlot finished choice sub primals from Costco or CAB from a butcher would be the cheapest way to start experimenting with aging.

                                                                                                                                                                Many variables go into the flavor profile of grass finished beef. Many threads on this subject. Probably best to "start" with the more consistent feedlot beef.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                  Good point. Such an education I always get here. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                            Here are a couple of videos about dry aging. Could be more complete but they are a start:

                                                                                                                                                            http://youtu.be/hc1ReOqdlGs

                                                                                                                                                            http://youtu.be/0zvwcSGf4o8

                                                                                                                                                            Basically if you follow Tom's Dry Aging technique you will see results in as little as 7 days.

                                                                                                                                                            Hope they help.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                              Those video's pretty much cover it. Second refrigerator with minimum door opening , even one of those small dormer ones seems to be the best way to go.

                                                                                                                                                              I think dry aging at home got a bad rap some years back when people were wrapping towels around the meat.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                Sheesh, I totally forgot about the 'dorm' fridge we got when we were remodeling.

                                                                                                                                                        4. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                          That makes me sad and a little bit angry. What could be easily had by all for not that much money a few decades ago is now killer expensive and labor intensive.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                            Yeah it seems that way with a lot of things. Check out the video's AC posted. The sub primal ages itself and the trimming is pretty simple. I think most Hounds would really appreciate the end result. Dry aged steaks also freeze incredibly well. I have accidentally held vacuum sealed dry aged steaks in the stand alone freezer for over a year with no discernible negative effects.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for your response. When I've tasted beef from elsewhere, it seems very different from beef in the USA, so I am not surprised they would find it subpar.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                        I think most of us CHs would probably admit that US non-CHs may not be the boldest, most open to new textures and flavors as lots of the world. So I can see that our milder tasting beef might not appeal to all.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                          I agree but what quality US feedlot beef have foreigners tried that they think is flavorless?

                                                                                                                                                          Select & low choice grades with little aging that are found in most supermarkets & many low budget restaurants, most definitely flavorless.

                                                                                                                                                          Properly aged high choice or prime feedlot beef in a good steakhouse, definitely not flavorless.... different flavor but lots of flavor.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                            As upthread, due to disappointment, I rarely order steak in America these days and I can't recall all the meals in the last 30+ years of visiting - nor do restaurants tend to note the provenance of their beef.

                                                                                                                                                            I do recall an excellent steak at one of the New York City steakhouses. And my notes of a meal in Charlottesville, Virginia indicate I liked the steak there, recording that it had the flavour of European beef. Not so much high quality, but I also recall a meal at a mini-chain in, I think, West Virginia, where the meat was surprisingly good for the very small price we were paying (but I always reckon America scores highly at the bottom end of the restaurant market).

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                              Not being snarky -- but what do you mean by "America scores highly at the bottom end of the restaurant market"?

                                                                                                                                                              I honestly don't understand your statement.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                I'm talking about chain places such as I mentioned, all-you-can-eat buffets, breakfast diners - that sort of place. Fantastic value for money that's impossible to match in the UK. And, generally speaking, with food quality far in excess of what we'd have here in equivalent places.

                                                                                                                                                                Definitely not an attack on the bottom end of the market. Just the opposite. As I say, that's where I think your restaurant trade does really well in value for money terms. It's when it moves up to the bistro level sort of place, that I think it falls behind offerings in the UK, France and Spain (for example) - which is a shame as that's where I tend to want to eat, which contributes towards making a trip across the Pond quite expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                  Most inexpensive Asian AYCE places buy the lowest quality ingredients that arrive in small box trucks covered with graffiti that don't even have working reefers and they prepare it with less skill than a military chow hall. Yes they are popular, especially among large volume eaters and I guess it could be said that we have perfected them if there is such a thing.

                                                                                                                                                                  As far as Bistros and on up the ladder to fine dining, our big Cities have just about as good a selection as any place in the world as we have top chefs from every corner of the world.

                                                                                                                                                                  One area we may be lagging is British food because only so much can be done with pies and fish & chips :-)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                    Ah, don't get me wrong, Tom. I'm not saying that America does not have good mid-range bistro type places. I've eaten in many. But what I am saying is that they don't offer the same level of quality for the money as I'd find here in the UK. And, yes, I've eaten in American cities, both large and small, towns and villages. I've no comparison to make about high end American restaurants as I've never eaten in any.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                      Harters, I think Tom perhaps hasn't been to the UK in quite a while. We had fabulous food there 10, 15, 20 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                In most cases the only way a restaurant owner would know the provenance of their beef is if they were buying from a local rancher or a small purveyor who specialized in supplying products from particular regions. Either case is expensive and rare.

                                                                                                                                                                I guess it depends on what part of the world a person is from as to whether they like US beef. The Japanese & Arabs love top graded US beef and pay a handsome price for it.

                                                                                                                                                                Friends tell me that the first places foreign clients want to go are to the high end NYC steakhouses.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, Tom, I agree - restaurant sourcing in America must be very different from here in the UK, where many (if not most) restaurants even at bistro level will note provenance of their meat. By way of example, one of my favourite local places has a short menu - just five main courses, of which three have geographical provenance (one to a region, one to the county, one to a village).

                                                                                                                                                              3. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                Actually, there are at least a couple of places in the foreign city I frequent most (Barcelona) that frequently offer "carne de Nebraska." Both well regarded, one by a former Michelin star holder.
                                                                                                                                                                I doubt, given that, that it's really true that Europeans in general find US beef flavorless.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: caganer

                                                                                                                                                                  Would the converse situation hold water?

                                                                                                                                                                  If there were a couple of restaurants in Denver which served Australian beef, would anyone hold that up as evidence of what a whole country's population (let alone a whole continent's) might in general feel about the food?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                    If there were a few restaurants in NY or LA (because we're talking about one of the world's leading food cities, not a third tier US city like Denver) that specialized in high grade Spanish beef before long, high grade Spanish beef would be held in higher esteem than it was before.
                                                                                                                                                                    The suggestion was that Europeans find US beef flavorless. The evidence that well respected chefs in a city that has long been a trend-setter in the food world disagree with that position suggests that it's risky to apply such a generalization to an entire continent.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: caganer

                                                                                                                                                                      You're obviously entitled to your position, statistically peculiar as it might be.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                        Statistically peculiar? nonsense.

                                                                                                                                                                        What's statistically peculiar is your blanket generalizations about the preferences of nearly 750 million people - for whom there are no statistics to support your claim.

                                                                                                                                                                        Since 2009 the EU import quota for high-grade US beef has been raised from 20,000 metric tons to 46,000 metric tons. So, you think Europeans are currently buying 101 million pounds of expensive beef they don't care for? I have a feeling the people selling that beef know better than both of us and have fat wallets to prove you wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                        The truth is almost certainly that most Eurpeans don't have an opinion of the flavor US beef one way or another (nor any significant experience with it), that many would not be able to tell the difference between the two, that some would prefer US beef and that many more would prefer what they are accustomed to, EU bee. The fact that people prefer what they are accustomed to does not prove they dislike something else.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: caganer

                                                                                                                                                                          You see - you're doing it again. Quoting a figure to attempt to evidence your case and miserably failing.

                                                                                                                                                                          No-one has suggested that everyone in Europe dislikes American beef. Not me, not Steve, not other contributors. Such a statement would be ridiculous and I am surprised that, in a serious conversation such as this thread, you would try to deflect the discussion by raising such tosh. I do, however, draw your attention to the OP where Steve rasies the point that he knows several who have "voiced their displeasure". I can only speak for myself in this - as upthread. It is you who is trying to suggest a European liking for American beef based simply on your knowledge of two restaurants in one European city (a city with at least 5500 restaurants listed on Trip Advisor).

                                                                                                                                                                          To return to your poor use of statistics, £101 million is a drop in the ocean in comparision with beef sales in Europe. An almost completely inconsequential figure being sold to a niche market. To put it in context, the value of sales of tins of baked beans, just in the UK, is £339 million (well over £200 million just by American company Heinz). £101 million? Yep - a drop in the ocean.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                            Thats a sh*t load of baked beans. Do you have bungee cords holding your sheets down?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                              Sometimes I think we should have, Tom.

                                                                                                                                                                              If I've done the maths right, at an average price, that's something like 480,000,000 tins per year - round about 8 tins for each and every one of us.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                I wonder if that goes back to the WWII food rationing menu mindset.

                                                                                                                                                                                My dad loved corn beef hash. He said it was one of the few things the Army couldn't screw up.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                  How do you mean, Tom?

                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry, but I'm not understanding the WW2 link . That said, my historical food interest is WW1, not WW2.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Looking at Wikipedia (yeah, I know) apparently Heinz beans were first sold here in 1886 and, then , as a very upmarket imported product. During WW1, tins of "pork & beans" were imported, mainly from Canada, as issued rations for the army. By 1918, some 7 million tins were being bought each month from north .

                                                                                                                                                                                  So, we've got a long tradition of eating them. They seem to have become more popular in recent years.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                    I mean that during WWII there was serious food rationing in England and people stocked up on very simple foods items that were packed in tins and I suppose baked beans became a staple food item that had sticking power.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                      Got you now, Tom.

                                                                                                                                                                                      You may well be right. The number of food items that were actually on ration was quite limited, although others were bound to be scarce. Meat was severely rationed and I could well understand families looking for a vegetarian replacement. They were officially regarded as an "essential food". Baked beans have always been mainly kids food. Since the 60s, they've been advertised with the slogan "Beanz Meanz Heinz" and they've recently rebranded the product as "Heinz Beanz".

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm afraid we're starting to stray a bit far from Steve's OP about American beef standards.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                        Yeah, I think so. The one area I am glad we strayed into was aging at home. Very easy & I think folks will love the results on either side of the Atlantic.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the chat, Tom. I think I may move on from this thread now.

                                                                                                                                                                                          best wishes from north west England

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                            Same here.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: caganer

                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, I don't know. The Japanese already put enough pressure on the price of US Prime Beef so if a good portion of the folks in the EU Countries don't particularly care for it, fine by me.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                                                          The US is not a big agriculture producer? Whoever thinks that is so misinformed that it isn't even really laughable; it's sad.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                            I'm unsure why you would say it is "sad", although it is, clearly a wrong impression. Almost any country as large as America is going to be a big agricultural producer - although whether the people of other countries see the evidence of that is another matter entirely.

                                                                                                                                                            For example, here in the UK, the main import that will be obvious to consumers (by country of origin labelling) is apples for a small part of the year. Yep, that's just about it. So, a British consumer might, unthinkingly, regard America's main crop that it has excess to export to be just apples.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                              I would say it is sad because it is so unbelievably misinformed; to the point of gross ignorance.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                Ignorant, maybe. But, as Wawsanham has just posted upthread, many non-Americans would not think of America as an agricultural country. Industrial, yes. World's policeman, yes. But not agricultural.

                                                                                                                                                                By the by, it's quite a while since my country was self-sufficient in food - mid 19th century, I think. In the latter half of that century, we started to import a lot of North American wheat as it was better than our own for bread. The opening up of the prairies had reduced the price and the invention of steam ships meant it could be transported quicker/cheaper. However, changes in baking technology now means we are all but self-sufficient in wheat again - growing soemthing like 85% of need with much of the remainder coming from other parts of the European Union.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                  The original American colonies were not good wheat growers. New England was too cold (and rocky), the south too hot. So the colonists adapted to using the native maize.

                                                                                                                                                                  As you say, bread wheat came from the prairies - along with immigrants and wheat from eastern Europe. Wheat consumption grew in the USA during the 2nd half of 19c.

                                                                                                                                                                  Milling also changed. Steel and ceramic roller mills efficiently separated the endosperm from the bran and germ. While adopted rapidly in the USA, it was actually pioneered by Hungarians and their hard wheat.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                              Well, I'm no statistician but 'relatively' speaking there's an argument to be made:

                                                                                                                                                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_...

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                I suppose that there's a distinction between "relative" and "actual". Whilst America's % GDP coming from agriculture may be smallish in relation to some other countries, it will be a large amount of agriculture, simply by its size. For example, the % is less than half that of the Netherlands but overall volumes must be many times larger.

                                                                                                                                                                No, I'm not a statistician either, so please feel free to ignore that commentary.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                  I know what you mean. Maybe someone else will expound :)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                    There is no country that exports more agricultural products than the Unites States. There are countries like China and India that have huge populations who produce more to feed their population, but nobody exports more.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not disagreeing, just curious. This article states that the smallest category that the US exports is food.

                                                                                                                                                                      http://useconomy.about.com/od/tradepo...

                                                                                                                                                                      "Brazil is the biggest exporter of coffee, soybeans, beef, sugar cane, ethanol and frozen chickens.[3]" from here:

                                                                                                                                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricult...

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                        I knew about the first 6 but not the chicken. I think overall people don't give much thought to the poor old chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                          The chicken's name was Colin.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                          Argentina and Chile (and parts of Brazil) are in the same climate range(s) as the USA, and can grow many of the same crops. So for the most part they are competitors, not agricultural customers. Consumers are not likely to see 'made in the USA' products on grocery shelves. So they can be forgiven for ignorance about USA food exports.

                                                                                                                                                                          How many Americans are aware of Argentine beef exports? Other than the occasional can of corned beef?

                                                                                                                                                                          We do see seasonal fruits from Chile, because their seasons complement ours. And cheap wines from Argentina.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                            In Brazil "Made in the USA" are not only rare, they're EXPENSIVE! My #1, never go anywhere in the world without it, comfort food is Campbells's Chicken Noodle Soup. IF they have it in Brazil, and they usually only have tomato and mushroom, it's about $5/can. Their beef cuts are unrecognizable to me so I go just low and slow.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, I agree that it is very misinformed--but people all over the world are very misinformed about a lot of things. Being misinformed seems to be a pretty universal human condition.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                                                                    Sad isn't it?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                      The human can only learn so much. We each are bound to be grossly ignorant about a vast number of subjects.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                                                                      While this comes from a food safety site, it's really about imports and exports. I thought it was interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/11...

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                        That article fills in a lot of the gaps in our current discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                        Now I know why beef tongue is out of my price range.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                          Recently the taco truck in my 'hood bumped most prices to $1.25, lengua is now $1.75. With a declining peso. Soon I'll have to choose between lunch or a haircut.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                            Fortunately I can readily get pork tongue at a large Asian grocery. It's cheaper and not as fatty.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                              I also.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                              Every taqueria here is Salem, Oregon has tacos de lengua as an offering. I have always thought of myself as pretty adventurous but I just can't bring myself to eat tongue.

                                                                                                                                                                              Help me change my mind.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                                Why not just get one taco of that and one of another? You don't have much to lose. The lingua we get in tacos is not chunks of chewy meat but slow cooked and nice and tender.

                                                                                                                                                                                I don't think I knew that you live in Salem. We used to live in Grants Pass.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                  My family and I stopped in Grants Pass on our way to Medford back in September.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Now if you want to talk about good Mexican food we can talk about Medford.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                                  A tongue sandwich at Katz's deli is $16.55. It's a lot of work to prepare, cook, peel, and pickle or cure tongue. You can sample a taco de lengua for under 2 bucks -take a chance! And don't give us the lame excuse that the cat got your tongue!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                    A single taco de lengua can be had for about $1.50. I have no excuse.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                                    I doubt an internet post is going to help you change your mind. To get over a food fear, it usually takes a period of time and several attempts for that 'light bulb' to go off.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Although I grew up in a world full of Jewish delis - and the possibility of ordering tongue, I didn't partake of tongue until later in life. Most tongue tacos don't do much for me, but there are some Bolivian places near me that do wonderful things with tongue 'steaks.' I have a good friend who adores tongue and that more than anything turned me around.