Time to talk BEEF!
How much beef do you get from 1/2 a cow?
What cuts do you get?
What goes into raising a cow?
Included in this list of resources is information made possible by Universities and Land Grant Organizations. If you want to learn more I've collected some of the best resources for you here!
Interactive Butcher Explore the Cuts - Learning about meat cuts is made simple through this user friendly interactive butcher resource. Amazing pictures of numerous cuts are visible. Click the cut you want to learn more about. It will guide you towards more information like how best to prepare including recipes.
Interactive Butcher Ask a Question - Ask the Interactive butcher a question, like "what is the most economical cut that I can put in my slow cooker", press the little red GO button and it will come up with a list of cuts of meat that will work for your needs, how to cook it, and recipe suggestions.
Beef and Pork Whole Animal Buying Guide - Ready to order your first 1/4, 1/2 or full cow? Then I am sure you are full of questions. This amazing resource made by Iowa State University does a better job than I could ever imagine at explaining the ins and outs of freezer beef. From how much meat will you get, to what the different carcass weight definitions are, to cuts of meat and how much freezer space you will need. This is the resource to read to get your questions answered. Become an expert now!
The Butcher Stole My Meat - Depending on how you ask the butcher to process your meat will determine how much meat you get back. This is a great guide to help explain so you don't feel jipped when you get your meat.
Raising Freezer Beef What does it really cost? - Do you really want to learn the intensive ins and out of raising freezer beef? Well I won't go too detailed, lets get you started here.
Bovine Mycology - This very neat website makes it possible to break each muscle or skeletal anatomy down visually on your smart phone or computer screen. Choose a muscle you are interested in, it will show you a picture of the muscle, explain how tough the muscle is, how juicy it is, what retail cuts come from that muscle, what the whole sale section of the meat is and more.
Beef Retail Information - Recipes, cooking information, infographics, meat cuts, how to save on beef. Tons of information and resources.
Sounds great, what does it mean?
There are so many terms and language when it comes to buying meat. It all sounds great, but what does it really mean? Here is a cheat sheet of terms and their meaning.
My personal 'layman's' explanation - not technical. If you like technical see USDA terms below.
Animals were fed grain at their last stage, the 'finishing' stage. The animal typically has a predisposed ability to have lots or little marbling in their meat. Grain finishing an animal that has a high marbling genetic will add more marbling flecks within the meat. These flecks melt as the meat cooks creating a more tender and juicier cut of meat.
Animals that are grass finished receive stored grass (hay, baleage, haylage) or pasture grass during their last stage, the 'finishing' stage. This process typically takes more time to get the animal to a finished weight. The benefits are a leaner and some same "gamier" tasting meat. Braising and slow cooking this type of meat is recommended to make it more tender.
Animals which have been fed stored grass (hay, baleage, haylage) or pasture grass as the main component in their diet.
PASTURED OR PASTURE RAISED
Animals have access to the outdoors and are not kept exclusively in a barn or cage setting.
Definitions taken directly from USDA's website.
A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as "no artificial ingredients; minimally processed").
NO HORMONES (beef):
The term "no hormones administered" may be approved for use on the label of beef products if sufficient documentation is provided to the Agency by the producer showing no hormones have been used in raising the animals.
NO ANTIBIOTICS (red meat and poultry):
The terms "no antibiotics added" may be used on labels for meat or poultry products if sufficient documentation is provided by the producer to the Agency demonstrating that the animals were raised without antibiotics.
The term "certified" implies that the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Agriculture Marketing Service have officially evaluated a meat product for class, grade, or other quality characteristics (e.g., "Certified Angus Beef"). When used under other circumstances, the term must be closely associated with the name of the organization responsible for the "certification" process, e.g., "XYZ Company's Certified Beef."