Meat labels at the stores can be confusing,
but I have some information that’ll help you pick the right cut of beef.
Have you seen the labels on packaging that rank beef as prime, choice, or select?1
What the USDA labels mean:
The cut of meat is based on flavor and juiciness of the cuts. They’re ranked in 3 levels:
- Prime is the highest ranked cut of meat. It is highest in intramuscular fat, which is called marbling. More marbling equals more fat. And more fat equals more flavor and juiciness.
- Choice is the middle ranking cut of meat. It is high quality but has less marbling than the prime and more than select. The marbling is more spread out over the cut.
- Select is the lowest ranking cut of meat. It has the least marbling meaning less tenderness, juiciness, and flavor due to the lack of fat.
Interestingly, the grade scale for beef quality is based on grain fed beef,
not grass fed beef. Grain feed cows are more likely to put on body fat due to the fact that they aren’t as active and they eat grains. Grass fed cows have less fat because they are more active and process the grass in a more natural way than the grain fed beef. Grass fed cuts will rank lower on the scale because they are less marbled overall.
We need a lot of vegetables, and exercise, and so do cows.
Imagine if we just at grains all day and weren’t active. It would result in more body fat overall. A person who eats a lot of vegetables and is more active, will have less body fat and better overall body composition. All animals need to be active to live well, have healthy lives and healthy bodies.
So now your question might be: Which one should I choose?
If you’re looking for a leaner cut of meat, I’d go with the Select cut. But if you need a cut that has more fat I’d stick with the Choice cut. Overall, choose organic or grass feed cuts over any other selections of beef. They’ll be leaner and so will you 😉
Which will you choose now? Comment below and let me know.
This article is the first in a series
on red meat and other meat sources, written by Courtney Spoutz, a featured blogger for LuciFit, LLC. She is currently finishing her degree in Exercise Science at Taylor University.
Stay tuned for the next one!
- Meat http://www.chefshalhoub.com/MEAT.htm
- Decoding Your Meat: A Guide to USDA Beef Labels http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/12/how-to-read-usda-beef-steak-labels.html
- What is the Difference Between Prime, Choice or Select Grades of Beef (picture 2) http://schweidandsons.com/blog/what-is-the-difference-between-prime-choice-or-select-grades-of-beef/
- What’s Your Beef – Prime, Choice or Select? https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2013/01/28/whats-your-beef-prime-choice-or-select