Is that steak from a cow or a steer? Why it matters..

PSA: Trader Joes grass-fed steaks are cow, not steer (but at steer prices (!). Bought one the other night bc we were out of town at friends who only shop there, and discovered this when I put a rather pricey steak onto the outdoor grill where it became obvious it was cow; on the plate ditto.

1) Cow requires a different cooking method. You know how a good steak will sear up tight on the outside with a nice glazed surface and tender on the inside? Where you can gauge the doneness buy pressing on it? Cow doesn’t do this; it remains soft on the outside, never tightens up on the outside, and you cannot press it to determine doneness, it takes forever for the inside to be not-raw. The meat remains completely flexible and never sears up on the outside.

2) Cow tastes very different from steak.

There’s nothing wrong with eating/cooking cow, it just seems to me that as consumers we should a) know we are buying cow so we can use the right cooking method and dish prep for the meat and b) pay cow, i.e., lower and appropriate, prices (not steer/higher prices). TJ’s isn’t the only one doing this; it’s an industry thing to conceal this. It began with those cheaper steak house restaurants in the 1970s; cheap steaks = cow; no one knew except ranchers, and most Americans thought those steak restaurants were awesome. Worse: there is just about no one in the beef industry who will tell you whether they are selling cow or steer (including the Berkeley Bowl) except local ranch butcheries and the mis-named online purveyor Crowd Cow who only sells steer.

This includes Whole Foods. About 10 years ago, I paid bank for a steak at Whole Foods Market, tossed it on the grill for a fancy dinner at home, and the piece of meat was really really not having it, and when i finally got the meat to the table, the taste was not even close to what worked…this ruined the dinner. The “steak” should have been cooked up in a stew and has no business on a grill. Also, I suspect meats on sale have a higher probability of being cow as when i’ve purchased anything on sale, years ago, it was cow. I stopped buying meat from Whole Foods a decade ago because of this and because the people behind their meat counters are not butchers (they can’t prep any meat or chicken correctly to save their own lives).

So FYI y’all. Bummer about TJs joining this–but then I never buy meat there, so I cannot say whether this is a recent development or not. I just know that the are selling cow in their not-cheap grass-fed steaks.

About Denise Lai

Alive. Swim (fly is the best). Walking with my dog (weims are the best). Life is good. Would prefer people understood negative externalities and prevented themselves from creating them. Feeling the love anyway. View all posts by Denise Lai

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