The Wild World of Ground Beef
If my 4+ years in the meat industry has taught me anything, it’s that we Americans need to have a discussion about Ground Beef. The reason being is that not all Ground Beef is created equal, and that fact alone, I think, is lost on a lot of consumers. So let’s dive into to this subject, I’ll think you’ll find this information both compelling, and useful when shopping for your next batch of Ground Beef.
Let’s start by considering that the word Beef in Ground Beef is very ambiguous. You can take any muscle you like and grind it up. In some cases, Tenderloin for example, it’s doesn’t make business sense to use a muscle for Ground Beef. Market value for Tenderloin Steaks (Filet Mignon) is much higher than Ground Beef. Generally speaking, one would use cuts that have a retail value that is less than, or equal to the retail value of Ground Beef. Examples would be Chuck (Shoulder), or Round, or Trim which can come from various sections of the cow. This is why you will sometimes see Ground Chuck, or Ground Round, or even Ground Sirloin. This is more specific as to which cut or muscle was used to make the batch. These grinds will usually be a little more expensive than Ground Beef, particularly Sirloin.
Now that we understand what Ground Beef can consist of, let’s take a look at supply and demand. As mentioned, you could grind 100% of meat off of a cow into Ground Beef, but if you’re trying to make money selling it, that’s not a winning strategy. So, right off the bat we have an limited amount of muscle to use to make a batch of Ground Beef. This is one reason the scenario of mass production began to take hold. There is an inevitable imbalance that is going to occur when demand for a specific cut exceeds the given yield on a beef carcass (or pork or chicken). Simply put, Ground Beef demand drives beef production. Just as demand for Chicken Breast drives chicken production. We have gotten to the point where we don’t product enough cows domestically to meet the demand. That’s why we import a lot of Ground Beef.
There is a high probability that store-bought Ground Beef is imported. On top of that, there’s a good chance that a given pound of store-bought Ground Beef contains beef from multiple countries. We here at The Ventura Meat Company believe in supporting American ranchers. We also believe in making our Ground Beef fresh right here in the shop. We believe in small batches, and big flavor. Does this mean our Ground Beef carries a higher price per pound than it’s store-bought counterpart? Yes, it does. But the process to make ours is much simpler, and much safer than our bigger competition. Give ours a try, and I know you’ll agree that there is no comparison between what we call Ground Beef, and what the big grocers call it.
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