Benefits of Better Beef: Explaining USDA Rankings and More

Not all beef was created equal. When it comes to choosing the best cuts, the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) has a system in place to help you identify exactly what you’re getting. There are a number of terms that might be confusing for those unfamiliar with the system. Our team at R&R Quality Meats is here to help explain what this system means, as well as identify a few other terms to look for to ensure that you’re buying the best bang for your buck.

Of course, one of the best ways to buy the best meat is to shop at a trusted market, and R&R Quality Meats is regarded as one of Redding, CA’s top meat markets. We choose all-natural, 100% organic beef and the choicest cuts at affordable prices. Our weekly meat specials go even further in giving you value as well as big flavors. On top of our extensive beef selection, we also offer pork, chicken, and some of the best seafood around.

If you’re here for a piece of beef, you will see particular words that you should pay attention to. USDA ranks beef according to a number of factors. Primarily, USDA looks at the age of the beef and the marbling. As you probably know, marbled beef has a ton of flavor. Age also factors in the taste and quality of the beef. The youngest, most marbled cuts of beef are considered “prime.” Yes, this is not just a descriptor or ad language; it is a rank on the USDA’s scale.

Prime beef has marbling throughout and comes from young cattle. These cattle were particularly well-fed, which encourages the marbling. Prime cuts are usually what you’ll be ordering at upscale steakhouses. “Choice” beef is still high-quality beef but has less marbling. These cuts are still packed in flavor and will satisfy your taste buds. Finally, “Select” beef is typically leaner and has very little marbling throughout. While it may not pack the flavor or juiciness of the higher grades, it still has its uses in cooking.

Beyond the USDA rankings, you will also see things like “grass fed” and “100% organic.” These terms describe how the cattle lived. “All natural” beef comes from cattle who were grass-fed, grain finished beef. This beef is free of hormones and have tons of flavor. The cattle lived on pastures for the majority of its life, promoting healthy muscles and great flavor. You will also see “100% organic,” which means the beef has passed a USDA certification process. This beef is grass fed and grass finished, and the grass was never treated with pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. On top of that, the beef itself was never treated with growth hormones or antibiotics.

We hope that this explains some of the terms you’ll see as you shop our store. If you want to learn more about the beef that we offer, contact us by calling (530) 241-7770 or contact us online.

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