As an alumnus of the Meat Processing program at Olds College – one of two programs left in the world that continues to teach the art of slaughter in addition to meat cutting and curing - I have gained a fortunate perspective as a beef producer. While I’m not doing much meat processing myself anymore, I have spent a good number of hours on the kill floor and at the cutting bench. Over that time I was able to acquire a keen sense of what actually makes good beef “good”.
“Good” beef is more than just an eating experience, it is a visual, olfactory, and tactile experience too. “Good” beef looks, smells, and feels good from the moment it is slaughtered. We know that “good” beef is also rich in vitamins and minerals and has a health promoting fatty-acid profile. “Good” beef has a high meat to bone ratio and a fat cover that allows each side of beef to be dry aged without much meat drying out. Finally “good” beef delivers an outstanding eating experience to the consumer!
My experience as a butcher has given me “the butcher’s eye”. This is the ability to select the kind of cattle that are going to deliver excellent beef in a grass-fed and finishing system, to know when the animals are properly finished (ie: fattened), and the array of possibilities available to us as eaters through the carcass disassembly process. The butcher’s eye is an advantage to me as a farmer and something that I believe I have to offer to the herdshare program.
It is our duty to dignify the life the animal has given by doing a beautiful job of butchering every part of the animal with minimal waste.