A Carnivore's Lament

This leads me to digress on one of my pet peeves: the current dismal state of meat. Forty, and even thirty years ago, cattle sheep and pigs were allowed to attain a decent age before slaughter. Nor were they bred to be the lean, mean, cud-chewin' low-fat machines they are today. Even in my working-class Bronx neighborhood we had real butcher shops, where sides of beef were carried in on men's shoulders and cut to order: steers that had been slaughtered at 2-3 years of age and in most cases the day before their carcasses went to the shops.

The current anti-cholesterol, anti-fat, anti-whatever dietary fads have resulted in meat that's flaccid and taste-free, thanks to being too lean and too young. Nowadays pigs are slaughtered before they reach puberty and cattle are lucky to live 18 months, because the sooner they attain market weight the more money the rancher and processor make. Flavor and tenderness are unimportant. Factory-line processing of carcasses and the shipment of over-trimmed "primal cuts" sealed in plastic has also pretty much eliminated the neighborhood butcher, or at least has reduced him to the status of a mere meat-cutter rather than the skilled artisans of my long-dead youth. Beef is tasteless and pork...well, pork is so lean and dry that the meat plants have to pump brine back into it to make it even remotely palatable, and they market it as "Moist 'n' Tender," which is was it USED to be before people started futzing with it. Now they can charge you the same price per pound for salt water that they do for the meat, a remarkably clever way to make more money.

Whenever I travel outside the USA and encounter real meat, farm-raised and grass-fed meat that tastes like it should taste, I'm forcibly reminded of how things used to be. About the only properly aged, range-grazed meat you can get nowadays is goat.

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