Meat is a delicacy and a major diet component in many parts of the world. They type of meat consumed in a certain area is greatly influenced by the tradition of a people and environmental factors. Other factors that influence the consumption of meat include religion and ethics. For instance, fish
dishes were prevalent in communities that settled near water bodies.
Though a few changes to diet might occur over time, the diet is predominantly based on fish. The choice of the type of meat might also be influenced by social and economic factors where the cheapest, most available type will be the preferred option. Globalization has also played a major role in changing people’s eating habits (the result of multinational food outlets). It is now common to find restaurants that specialize in a particular culture’s cuisine outside the country of origin. Most liberal economies of the world have vibrant meat markets.
Types Of Meats
All meats are a rich source of proteins and other minerals. The most common sources of protein are meat and poultry. Every type of meat is packed with various minerals that are essential to the proper functioning of the body. Meats are categorized according to their source and the part from which they have been obtained. They also have varying fat contents. Meat prices differ according to location, weight and type. In the U.S, poultry meats retail at the lowest prices of all meats in the market. (According to the statistics from U.S Department of Labor).
How Is Meat Processed?
Until recently, butcher shops were the most common meat distributors. Today, the meat industry is highly advanced as meat has become a major commodity in most countries. The meat supply chain has led to growth of a number of enterprises that are specialized in meat production from farm-to-fork.
It is now possible to buy meat online and have the meat delivered to the doorstep as long it is properly certified and is obtained from credible meat suppliers. Meat processing plants are an integral part of this chain. The meat is cut into primal cuts for meat wholesales and further into retail cuts. Prime meat is also available in special restaurants that form part of this chain. Restaurants also provide a number of meat foods and products like meat pie, smoked meats among others as provided on the meat menu.
The chain involves producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers and consumers. More interestingly, these actors are not necessarily found in the same area. This has also led to an upsurge of emerging markets in various parts of the world. Notably, meat quality and safety systems are also a huge part of this industry. The broad categories of meat include; poultry, pork, beef and seafood. This meat is bought in cuts, mince and joints. The meat can also be processed into sausages, burgers or ham.
Online Meat Purchases
Just like any other online product chain, it is that easy to order meat online as simply as logging in to a meat site. Buying beef online is easy as buying a watch online. The meat beef can be bought in various forms ranging from raw to cooked meat. It can be either in form of ground beef, sausage beef, beef steak, canned meat, aged beef, all natural beef etc. processed meat has a longer shelf-life than raw meat.
First, it is important to know exactly what type of meat cuts to buy. Buying quality meats is not just a factor of prices. Most online meat suppliers provide comprehensive meat products lists that you can browse from. Since beef is a perishable commodity, it is important that you ensure all the safety standards of processing and packaging are adhered to.
Mail order beef can be obtained from traditional steak outlets. There are over 10 certified mail order meat companies in the US. Farm direct sellers are dealers in fresh beef products like grass-fed meats. There are also online butchers that offer meat home delivery services. An online shop works more or less the same as an ordinary meat store where various cuts of beef are displayed and sold. For bulk meat you might consider channeling your efforts to a meat wholesale outlet.
It is a primal cut obtained from the lower chest or breast of beef. These are the muscles that support 60% of the cow’s activities and weight and therefore have a lot of connective tissues. The brisket is tough and contains quite an amount of fat. It is ideal for making soups. It is also favored for making bbq meat because it can be smoked for longer hours without destroying the flavor
This tough section of beef and is therefore very chewy. It is also one of the most flavorful parts of beef. Ribs often need to be tenderized to make before cooking. Common ways to tenderize include barbecuing, braising or marinating. Ribs can be bought in large racks or as smaller cuts.
The subcategories of beef rib cuts include; short ribs, back ribs and ribeyes. Most people prefer to barbecue back ribs. Back ribs are better braised due to the marrow which is a perfect host of flavor for stews, and the fact that they have little meat. Ribeyes are commonly sold boneless. Short ribs are the best rib cuts that are obtained from the lower ventral section. These are the best for barbecue.
This is a boneless cut obtained from the belly of a pig. Pork belly is a common delicacy in North America, East Asia and Europe. In Asia, it is a popular cuisine in the Philippines, China and Korea. It can be diced or stripped and braised, fried or marinated and grilled.
In Europe pork belly is either slow roasted or barbecued. In the U.S uncured pork belly is quite popular. Bacon and spare ribs are made from the belly. Bacon is very common in the U.S. A survey in 2015 estimated that at approximately 80% of American households use bacon.
It has a sweet mild flavor. Lobster tail can be broiled, grilled, boiled or seared on a pan over medium heat for about 15 to 18 minutes depending on the size of the lobster. The lobster tail is a delicacy for the American people and continues to gain popularity in other parts of the world.
Beef is a common meat dish all over the world. It is a good source of protein and fat. It is also rich in iron, zinc and B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, B6 and B12).
Its nutritive value varies with method of preparation because the protein structure is denatured by high temperatures.
Beef should be cooked at the right temperatures to avoid undercooking or overcooking it. Under cooked meat is usually unsafe for consumption. Beef is a type of red meat obtained from cattle. The top cattle breeds reared for beef are the Angus, Hereford, Limousin, Simmenthal and Charolais. Most beef available in meat stores is obtained from 18-24 months steers. Angus beef is marketed as superior quality because of its marbled appearance.
Beef meat is prepared and packed into various forms; mince, cuts and sausages; or in other regions kebabs. Wholesale beef is usually divided into 8 primals; the loin, the rib, the chuck, the sirloin, the brisket and the small flank. Variety meats (liver and kidneys) are also found separately. The liver is a good source of iron.
Retail meat products are packed in various quantities. Meat beef cuts are named according to the part of the cattle they are obtained from. These cuts make buying and cooking convenient. Lean cuts are beef obtained from less fatty parts. They contain less than “10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving* and per 100 grams –where a serving equals 85grams or an equivalent tree-ounce cooked portion” (The 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act definition).
This is facial meat of a cow that is obtained from its cheeks. The beef is tough but when braised transforms into a tender,
flavorful meaty delight. This is usually a premium beef cut that is rare to find and might have to be ordered in advance from your local butcher. The cheek is a lean beef cut and often very juicy. Beef cheek recipes can be substituted with the brisket when beef cheeks are unavailable.
This is pastry wrapped steak that is prepared by coating a fillet steak with pâté and duxelles. To retain the steak’s moisture, some recipes might include wrapping the coated meat in a crêpe. The steak is made from tenderloin. The loin is the best source of steak as it is the tenderest beef. It is also the most expensive.
Products from the loin include; the boneless New York Strip steak, Shell Sirloin Steak (Bone-In), the boneless sirloin steaks, Porterhouse Steak, T-Bone Steak, the beef tenderloin Steak or Filet Mignon, Whole Peeled Tenderloin. It is recommended that loin meats be cooked dry by grilling, sauteing or roasting.
General Guidelines On How To Buy Beef Cuts:
These are the considerations you need to make when you want to buy meat
• Generally, the forequarter has more muscles per cut and contains a lot of connective tissue and therefore gives tougher beef; particularly, meat from the neck and shoulder muscles has more connective tissue and long thick fibers. The forequarter works more than the hind part; it supports general activities of the animal body.
• The hindquarters have less muscle, less connective tissues, shorter fibers and are therefore tender compared to cuts from the forequarter.• Beef steak is a boneless cut of beef. Lean cuts are lower in fat content. They are easy to cook and are suitable for a variety of cooking methods. Cooking beef requires an understanding of various cuts of meat. To buy steak, learn which parts provide tender cuts.
• Grain-finished beef is beef obtained from cattle fattened with corn for 3-6 months on feedlots.
• Grass-finished or grass-fed beef is obtained from cattle that feed on grasses and legumes. This meat is lower in saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories than grain-finished. It has a distinct flavor, often described as bold and real.
Grass-fed meat is believed to be a more sustainable choice. The only limitation is that grass feeding requires larger spaces and therefore impacts on end user prices because production is both costly and time consuming.
• The rib offers some flavorful and tender cuts which can also be dry cooked. They can also be available as bone-in or boneless cuts. They make a good choice for mail order beef.
• The chuck is a very economical option with lots of muscle and lean. This can be ground into mince. The chuck is ideal for meat stews.
• Natural beef is obtained from cattle that are fed on organic feeds: can be either grain or grass- fed. It should be purely organic grass fed beef i.e the cattle should not have been treated with antibiotics or enhanced with hormones. The beef should not contain any artificial ingredients. Consider free range beef too mostly available from an organic butcher.
• Dry aged beef is made by hanging meat to dry for several weeks in a controlled cold environment. The meats can loss up to 50% of their weight. It is said to improve tenderness and flavor. The time consuming process makes it among the most expensive meats in the market. Dry aged steaks are becoming popular and can be found in most meat restaurants.
• Most meat shops deal in meat products that can be traced back to particular meat farms. This is a good way of ascertaining the type of beef production and whether the meat company meats the required quality standards. Always buy beef from an accredited met supplier.
• Beef is graded by USDA in accordance to the marbled fat. (Prime, select, choice, free range meat etc). Meats labeled as prime beef are the highest quality meats in the market. They cannot be bought from regular meat shop but are only available in high end restaurants.
Pork is meat obtained from domesticated pigs. Pork is a common delicacy in South East Asia, the East and America. Some religions however forbid the consumption of pork. The pig was among the earliest animals to be domesticated. Pig husbandry dates back to the 5000 B.C. The most desirable quality about pigs is that they are omnivorous and this makes them easy to domesticate. Cooking devoted to pork products is known as charcuterie.
Pork can be consumed either freshly cooked or preserved. Pork is tender and is good for making steaks. A typical hog weighing 265 pounds can produce a 200 pound carcass that translates to about 150 pounds of retail pork cuts. Only the squeal remains unused.
The bristly hog hair is often used for brushes, pig’s feet can be pickled, the skin can be fried and sold as snacks, and rendered fat and lard are often used for baking and frying. In other places, the snouts are cooked. Unlike beef, pork meat has no grades. There are several breeds of pigs from which pork is obtained.
A common misconception about pork is the fat content. Research has shown that the old breeds of hogs produced pork with higher fat contents than the newer breeds. The American Yorkshire drew the attention of many producers and marketers for its low fat content in recent years.
However, improvements in feeding and breeding techniques have enabled production of much leaner pork with the old breeds. Other exotic breeds have been introduced in the pork meat industries and have proven to be richer in flavor. This also makes them more expensive.
The Berkshire is quickly gaining popularity and is already available in most grocery stores.
Pork is now as lean as chicken meat and cooks very fast because it tenderer than beef. For example, pork tenderloin is considered extra lean according to the USDA guidelines with less than 5 g fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 mg cholesterol. The total fat content in skinless chicken breast and trimmed pork tenderloin is the same. It is therefore has no artery clogging effect. In addition to proteins, pork is a good source of a lot of vitamins and minerals.
General Guide To Pork Cuts
At wholesale level, there are four different cuts of pork traded as the primal cuts; the shoulder, the loin, the leg and the belly/side. The shoulder is well marbled with fat and has a lot of connective tissue. Meat from this section often requires slow cooking methods like stewing, braising or barbecuing.
The loin is the area between the back legs and the shoulder. It is the leanest and most tender part of the pig. Meat from this area should not be overcooked as it will lose its moisture and flavor.
Ham is made from the rear legs of the hog. Cuts from here are sold as large chunks. The belly on the other hand, is the fattiest and is where bacon is obtained from. This primal cuts are further divided into smaller retail portions in meat packing plants.
The meatiest chops are removed from the loin. They are very lean and boneless. It is best not to overcook them as they tend to dry quickly. The best chops should be at least an inch thick to ensure they remain adequately moist while cooking. Pork chops can be boiled, pan-fried or grilled.
Pork tenderloin – This cut is very tender with fine grains and contains very minimal fat. It is cut from the end of the loin. It can also be pan-fried, grilled or roasted.
Baby back ribs/back ribs/baby backs – These are small slabs obtained from the hog’s rib cage. A complete rack has 8 ribs. They are juicy and full of flavor. They are ideal for roasting and grilling.
Spareribs – these are longer than baby back ribs. They have more fat too. A complete rib rack weighs about 3 pounds and has at least 11 ribs. In addition to grilling and roasting, these can also be braised.
Bacon – these are the fatty slabs of pork that are cut from the belly of the pig. They are then smoked and cured with salt to concentrate the flavor. There are also varieties of leaner bacon often obtained from the loin. Canadian bacon comes in cylindrical form. Bacon can stay fresh for longer because it is cured. It can stay refrigerated for up to a week and frozen for up to 3 months. Bacon is ideally pan-fried.
Ham – this is removed from the leg. It is sold boneless. However, ham can also be available semi-boneless or with bone in. Smoked ham is more flavorful and meatier. For baking purposes ham can be used fresh. Often, ham is cured in brine and spices to give a complex flavor. Precooked ham can stay fresh for a while especially if refrigerated.
Pork butt – this is obtained from the top shoulder from the shoulder socket up to the spine without the picnic. They are often tied with strings because they fall apart easily. This cut is best for pulled pork but can also be cut into roasts, steaks, or ground for sausage meat and patties.
Any sea/aquatic life that can be consumed by humans is termed as seafood. Seafood includes fish, various species of mollusks, crustaceans, echinoderms, mammals and edible sea plants.
Seafood is a great source of proteins, essential oils, micro-nutrients and minerals. Sea food is common in coastal areas where it is obtained from fishing and processed into various food products for both humans and animals.
The consumption of seafood dates back to the Paleolithic age. Archeological evidence in South Africa shows that man has harvested marine life from as early as 165,000 years ago. Seafood is very perishable and should therefore be handled carefully and consumed as fresh as possible. Currently Japan, Iceland and Portugal are the leading seafood consumers.
Seafood are gourmet meats that fall into two broad categories: fish and shellfish
It is a form of white meat. It is packed with proteins, vitamins A and D, magnesium, phosphorus, iodine and selenium. The fish protein is useful for complementing the amino acids available in vegetable foods.
Fish has fatty acids essential for proper brain development and functioning. Fish is often sold fresh. The prices are determined by the weight. They are sold either whole, or fillets or in pieces. Fish can be fried, grilled, smoked or steamed depending on the type and size of fish.
Marine fish – these fish either live near the water surface or at the bottom of the sea. Edible marine fish include sardines, salmons, eels, sprats, mackerel, cod, flatfish, herrings, tuna etc.
Freshwater fish – these are found in fresh lakes, rivers or can be reared in ponds. Common freshwater fish include tilapia, catfish, trout and carp.
Shell fish – these include mollusks, crustaceans and echinoderms. These include oysters, sea snails, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, krill, mussels, squids etc.
Common Seafood Cuts
Fillets – these are boneless cuts that can be obtained from almost any type of fish especially flat fish or trout or salmons.
Cheeks – cut from the cheeks of a large mature fish like the cod, haddock, or monk fish.
Steaks – can be obtained from swordfish or tuna. They can be also available as fillet steaks.
Tails – this is obtained from the back end of a large fish. This portion is meaty and savory. The lobster tail is one of the popular seafood cuts in U.S that is prepared using various cooking methods.
There are a number of exotic meats that are available on meat websites that are worth sampling. These meats are not available in regular meat stores and are usually specially pre-ordered from meat butchers. This is especially useful for those who like to send meat gifts for special occasions. Examples of these exotic meats include game meat like ostrich meat, bison meat, deer meat/venison meat, kangaroo meat.
In various parts of the world, other animals are reared for meat and that is where you find goat meat, rabbit meat, turkey meat, horse meat. These prime meats can be sold as raw cuts or as processed meat products. Lamb meat is also gaining popularity in most parts of the world.