Meat Quality is Related to Care?

I had one of those “What the XXX?” moments when reading a blog post today. The “Accidental Hedonist” posted the following:

“Ultimately, my guess is that the flavor of grass fed beef comes down to the quality of care given given to the cattle by the rancher”

I’m glad she put guess in italics, because she may as well have substituted the second half of the sentence for <<insert your own half-baked idea here>>.

Obviously the way that animals are cared for makes a difference. If animals are diseased, have a high parasite burden or are exposed to extreme temperatures or weather conditions, their productivity, growth and potentially meat flavor may be affected.

Yet her post seems to imply a utopian grass-fed paradise where the rancher goes out and tenderly caresses each animal, whispering sweet nothings into their ears and telling them about the happy ranch in the sky where they’ll frolic and kick their heels some day soon. Those efficiency-driven feedlot guys produce identical, anonymous widget cattle that by implication, must taste bland.

I’m an animal scientist not a meat scientist (for great meat science info head on over to itweetmeat’s blog) but I know that cattle diet, age at slaughter and post-harvest processing have a huge influence on meat flavor.

If only every self-proclaimed expert* (I eat food, so I know all about it, right?) did a little research before they published their guesses. La, la, la, la, luddite?

*Please note – I do not claim to be an expert in anything. Apart from perhaps eating carrots for 33 years on four continents (and even that expertise is debatable).

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