Butcher Shop or Grocery Store?

Learn more about beef by check out some of our other beef web pages. To learn more about beef, visit our Beef Page and Beef Processing Page!

Did you ever stop to think where that T-Bone steak or Pork Chop you're cooking for dinner came from?

Is there any difference from supermarket meat and butcher shop (or sometimes called a meat shop) meat?

The answer is quite definitely YES!

There are many, many ways they are different. And many ways in which the butcher shop meat is much better. In this column today I will touch on just a couple of the differences.

1. Where did that hamburger come from? As of today, beef sold in supermarkets does not have to label where the beef was raised. It could be Canadian beef, Argentinean beef, New Zealand beef, or maybe even beef raised in the good old US of A.

Is there any difference where the beef was raised at? Yes. It's not the foreign beef is necessarily of lower quality of American beef, but they are not necessarily graded and inspected the same as the USDA does here in the U.S.

What the Brazilian government considers Choice graded beef may not be the same as what the USDA grades as choice. But if it is graded Choice beef in Brazil, it is AUTOMATICALLY labeled choice here in the U.S.!

So you are not guaranteed that when you buy Choice New Zealand beef (which you don't know if you are or not), if you're actually getting Choice beef.

2. Probably 99% of the beef sold in grocery store comes from one of three main Meat Processing companies; IBP, Monfort or Excel. The grocery store receive this boxed beef, as it is called, either cut in primal or sub-primal cuts (recently, these 3 companies even began shipping meat already cut for the case, e.g. T-Bone Steaks)

So what's so bad about this? Almost ALWAYS this beef is cut within one to two days after the animal is killed. This leaves no time at all for "dry aging".

Dry aging, which is usually hanging the meat "whole" in a cooler for 7 to 14 days. This aging process tenderizes the meat greatly.

The local butcher shop almost always sells American raised meat (but be sure to ask). And a majority of the time, the meat is locally raised. And local butcher shops have to keep their customers happy, they can't afford to lose to many, or they will be out of business quickly!

And a very definite PLUS for local butcher shop meat is that the meat is usually dry aged for 7 to 14 days (again, be sure to ask). This insures a more tender cut of meat!

To find out more about dry-aged beef, read our article explaining how dry aging beef works.

Ask The Meatman

Print this page from Ask The Meatman.com.

Last Updated:  Saturday, October 04, 2008 12:42 PM