3 Tips to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Meat

Choosing the best meat can sometimes feel like a dark art. How can anyone tell just from looking at a piece of raw meat what it’s going to taste like, how tender it might be or what dish it would be best in? There are some things to know when choosing your meat that can help make your culinary adventure a successful one.

Things like freshness and price can help you make the best choice—so can reading and understanding the labeling on the package. And there’s always that whole human communication thing, where you can ask the person who actually cuts the meat what they might recommend.

Here are some local meat shopping tips to keep in mind next time you find yourself at the butcher counter.

Check for freshness

The first tip here is probably the most obvious but also probably the most helpful: Check the pack date on the label. Freshness is important when it comes to what to look for when shopping for meat, so look on the package to see when a cut was packed to get the freshest meat.

You can look for other signs beyond the pack date to check for freshness, too. For example, if the tray is full of juices, it may be less fresh than other pieces. If the beef or pork you’re looking at appears slimy or overly wet, that’s another sign of waning freshness.

For maximum freshness, consider buying meat from the butcher counter. One advantage of buying meat this way is that the meat is often fresher and pieces can even sometimes be cut to order. It can also be wrapped in freezer paper that will help cut down on freezer burn.

Know your labels

Meat labels can be confusing. For example, just because something says organic doesn’t mean it’s humanely raised, and meat that is humanely raised doesn’t mean it’s organic or natural. And the phrase “all natural” doesn’t even have an official USDA description. It’s enough to make one’s head spin.

One of the best ways to cut through the marketing bologna is to know what you’re looking for. If you care most about organically-raised and -fed animals, look for labels that say “certified organic.” If you care about humane treatment, look for that on the labeling. You may also want beef that is fed a certain diet, which can impact its flavor.

Ask the butcher

One of the best ways to know exactly what you’re buying is to ask the butcher questions. The person who cuts the meat will have knowledge of everything from freshness to which farm the meat came from. They may even have cooking tips or deeper knowledge of the diet and farming practices of the rancher.

With these local meat shopping tips, your next trip to the meat counter is sure to be a success. Now that you know what to look for when shopping for meat, when you’re looking for high-quality, local meat and knowledgeable, friendly service, visit Horner’s Midtown Market today.

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