06 March, 2007

Meat To Please You

I've neglected diet tips for a while now, but last Saturday I spotted another one of those things that make you go hmmmm and it was in relation to the meat purchases. Here are a couple of observations:

First, I buy very little meat from a chainstore supermarket. They have all the tricks down pat, how much they can inject the meat with saline, how much they can irritate it to stay red, how much they can preserve it.

That's important to you for several reasons. First - "inject with saline?" Surely no self-respecting butcher would do that? Right. No self-respecting butcher would. But these days most butchers buy their sides of beef or even bulk cuts from a meat processor/abattoir. They have no such compunctions and they want your money so they will do that.

It's done for a number of reasons, first being that thanks to Heart Smart ticks, the market prefers leaner beef. So abattoirs would prefer to buy leaner cattle rather than buy fat cattle by the kilo and then throw part of the profits away in the fat. So the meat is less marbled and bacause fat equals flavour, the meat tastes more bland. (Yes it's true bbq steaks tasted so much better when you were a kidf because the meat WAS more flavoursome.) So saline raises the flavour of the meat, and ensures YOU go back to your butcher more often, and in turn the butcher goes bak to that processor more often.

Secondly saline is a preservative, and can allow the processor to store the meat longer before needing to sell it. That increases their bottom line because they can stockpile cheaper beef against a time when beef prices are up, and make a few cents a kilo on the deal. Which adds up to hundreds of dollars in some orders.

Lastly, as a fringe benefit to the meat processor, saline increases the weight if the meat, thus making another few hundred dollars per order when the processor sells saline solution at the price of beef or chicken...

And your supermarket is generally either a meat processor or a meat processor outlet, NOT a butcher. Heck, your butcher may not even be a butcher but just handle bulk cuts and turn then into mince and saleable sized cuts. And unless they can tell you where their meat comes from precisely, assume that there's a meat processor involved.

One way to tell with beef is to put some in the freezer in a plastic bag, freeze it, then thaw it again. Beef with a lot of saline will produce a puddle of very thin and pink watery blood, whereas unsalined beef will produce slightly watery red blood.

The other thing to watch for is lovely blood red beef. It has been treated with a chemical irritant which causes the redness. It's done with minced beef particularly, but watch out for it on the steaks and other cuts, too.

Why should you care? Hello! Irritant! This stuff irriates the meat into presenting inflamed red blood cells, and then you eat that and you're made of... ummm what are we made of again? Oh yes MEAT! and then we wonder why inflammation-based diseases are on the increase. It can make sensitive people ill, cause hyperactivity in some, and can cause a range of symptoms.

How can you tell? Some butchers spray the irritant into the mince mixture, but most just spray the top of the tray, and over the tops of the trays of steaks and so forth. You can tell because meat normally goes grey after sitting for a while. So if your butcher lifts a steak out of the tray and there is a grey steak behind it, the top steak has been sprayed. If the scooped out part of the mince is grey while the surface is pink, it's been sprayed. (It was this that I saw at my local butcher and I'll be asking them a few questions next time I see the owner there, some very hard questions . . . )

Ask for the grey steak or mince. It will taste the same but be better for you.

Last thought for you. Would you eat the stuff in your rubbish bin? Well, why eat the animals that have been fed on stuff like that all their lives. Trust me the Japanese know why they will pay $1000 for a kilo of grain and red wine fed beef. The flavour comes through.

As far as I know there is only one mark that guarantees that the cow or chicken or whatever has not been fed ground-up other animal carcasses, chemical waste from other manufacturing plant, and a ton of antibiotics and steroids. That is the 100% Organic label. If you value your health, that's what to go for.

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