Meat and Deli Case

Through advanced breeding and feeding practices, today's animals are leaner than ever. Leaner cuts are available also because of closer trimming ofbeef, veal, pork, and lamb cuts. The average thickness of fat around the edge of steaks and roasts has trimmed down from V2 inch to 3/4 inch twenty-five or more years ago to less than V§ inch trim today. See "Today'sMeat" in chapter 9. Choose mostly lean meat; higher-fat meats contribute more discretionary calories.

For the "lean advantage"—and the other nutrients that meat supplies (especially protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc)—consider these shopping tips:

  • Shop for meat's lean cuts. Certain cuts of meat are leaner than others. Use this rule of thumb in selecting lower-fat cuts of fresh meats: Look for the words "round" or "loin" in the name when shopping for beef, and the words "loin" or "leg" when buying pork or lamb. Here are some examples of lean cuts.
  • Beef: eye of round, top round steak, top round roast, sirloin steak, top loin steak, tenderloin steak, flank steak, and chuck arm pot roast. See page 320 for beef's lean cuts.
  • Veal: cutlet, blade or arm steak, rib roast, and rib or loin chop
  • Pork: tenderloin, top loin roast, top loin chop, center loin chop, sirloin roast, loin rib chop, and shoulder blade steak
  • Lamb: leg, loin chop, arm chop, and foreshanks

If you're not sure of the cut, check the meat label. It identifies the kind and cut, along with the net weight, unit price, and cost per package.

• Choose leaner grades of meat. "Select" grades of beef have the least marbled fat (or thin streaks of fat between the muscle) followed by "choice" cuts, then "prime" beef cuts. Veal and lamb use the same grading system; however, the term "good" is used instead of "select." Grading, which is determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is based on fat content, appearance, texture, and the age of the animal. Pork is not graded.

The more costly "prime" grade of beef—more often on restaurant menus than sold in supermarkets— has more marbled fat, which helps make the meat juicy and flavorful. However, with proper methods of

Shopping at a Farmers' Market?

Make it a fun experience! With about 4,000 farmers' markets in operation in the United States and more every year, farmers' markets give you a chance to talk to growers and perhaps find local products you can't find elsewhere, local varietals of vegetables and fruits, artisan cheeses, fresh or potted herbs, cut flowers, homemade sauces, oven-fresh baked goods, organically certified foods, locally produced poultry, eggs, or meat, or fresh fish.

First, be aware that the produce sold may-or may not-be fresh from the field. Some markets feature only local growers. Others sell brokered products from the same commercial markets that supermarkets buy from. And some sell both. Ask the market manager or vendor.

For food safety and great shopping, bring a clean carry bag or two: separate ones for raw and cooked foods, or for meat, poultry, or fish. As you shop, pay attention to food safety practices of the vendor: cleanliness, gloves or clean utensils for food handling, covered garbage cans, clean bags. Go early for the best selection; check the market Web site ahead if there's one. Shop with flexibility; the market changes with the season and the local growers and vendors who come to market. Take time to talk to and learn from them. Pack your purchases so they don't crush; take perishables home right away.

cooking and carving, the leaner "select" and "choice" meats can be tender, juicy, and flavorful, too.

Nutritionally speaking, nutrients in meat—protein, thiamin, niacin, iron, and zinc, among others—are the same, regardless of grade.

  • Buy well-trimmed meat: Vs-inch fat trim or less. "Trim" refers to the fat layer surrounding a steak or other cut of meat. Note: Marbled fat cannot be trimmed away. Only cooking methods can remove some, but not all, marbled fat.
  • Check the "numbers" for ground meat—look for packages that have the greatest percent lean to percent fat ratio. Ground beef labeled as 95 percent lean also may include the nutrition description "Lean" because it meets the definition of a lean product. Note: "Percent lean" refers to the weight of the lean meat in relation to the weight of the fat.
  • Buy enough meat without overdoing on portion size. For moderate-size portions (3 ounces cooked), figure 4 ounces of uncooked, boneless meat per person. Refer to the chart "MeatBuying Guide" in this chapter to help you decide how much meat to buy.
  • Use nutrition labeling to find lean packaged meats. By regulation, packaged deli meats must carry nutrition labeling. That helps you find today's leaner hot dogs, luncheon meats, and sausage patties.

Also check out the lean options from the deli case. When buying ready-to-slice luncheon meats from a deli, ask for nutrition information if you're unsure of a product's leanness. Some lean products will be identified with a nutrient content claim such as "low-fat," "_% fat-free," or "lean."

  • Look for nutrition information for fresh meat, poultry, and seafood. Single-ingredient raw meat, poultry, and seafood soon may be labeled voluntarily with nutrition information.
  • When shopping for bacon, try Canadian bacon or turkey bacon. Canadian bacon is lean, much like ham. In contrast, traditional bacon is mainly fat, including saturated fat. Consider bacon, especially, among your discretionary calories. If you're watching your sodium intake, check the label.
  • If you eat organ meats, also called variety meats, make them occasional choices. Brain, chitterlings (pig


intestines), heart, kidney, liver, sweetbreads (thymus gland), tongue, and tripe (stomach lining of cattle) are all organ meats. Organ meats are good sources of many nutrients; liver, in particular, is high in iron. However, most are higher in cholesterol than lean meat. And some, such as chitterlings, sweetbreads, and tongue, have more fat.

  • For convenience, look for meat that's already seasoned, prepared, and ready to cook, such as meat and vegetable kebobs or marinated pork loin. You may also find precooked, packaged heat-and-eat meats in the refrigerated case. These meats may be higher in sodium.
  • Recognize the qualities of fresh meat. The color of meat indicates its freshness. Beef is typically a bright red color. Both young veal and pork are grayish-pink. Older veal is a darker pink. And lamb can be light to darker pink, depending on how it was fed.
  • Check food product dating on meat. Only buy fresh and processed meats that still will be fresh when you're ready to eat them. Or plan to freeze immediately for later use.
  • Notice the safe food handling label. A sample label is shown in this chapter. For more about the safe handling of meat, see chapter 12, "The Safe Kitchen."

Reading Meat Labels

  1. The kind of meat—Listed on every label
  2. The primal (wholesale) cut—Tells where the meat came from on the animal
  3. The retail cut—Tells from what part of the primal cut the meat comes
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