The economy is rocky for many people so when the news article came of USDA prime beef appearing on meat counters it was met with, for some, disbelief. High end beef is no longer exclusive to five star restaurants or gourmet mail order. It spoke of the Wagyu beef at $14.99 per pound and grass fed cattle.
While “foodies” criticize large ag farms there was little mention until this article of Niman Farms increasing their beef herd from 7000 to 10,000 cows. It shows a few things – size of operations isn’t the defining thing, what there is a market for will be produced…and even in a tough economy quality sells.
What is this though? Wagyu cattle have intense marbling – fat streaks – that enhance flavor and tenderness of the meat. Traditionally some Japanese beef would add beer or sake to the feed or massage the animals daily. Several breeds unique to Japan include Japanese black, Japanese brown, Japanese polled, Kumamoto reds and Japanese shorthorn. In the US they’ve been crossed on Angus but in Japan they are divided more by region than color. The American Wagyu ads list steers at $3/pound while purebred cows are $3000-4500. Pregnant females can run $6500 or more. Kobe beef – prepare for steaks well over $100/pound.
For the grass fed fan – good quality beef and pasture make a big difference in producing a quality end product. Dive in – while you might not have the big bucks you can eat like you do with beef raised at home.