Friday, March 19, 2010

The consumers perspective

I had to buy hamburger at the grocery store!? This was a new one for me.

Meat at my house comes straight from the butcher, wrapped in crisp, white paper and is stamped with either "TRH RANCH" or "HAMILTON" and "NOT FOR SALE" in bright red or blue ink.

I looked and looked and Albertsons had nothing wrapped like that.

There I was, standing in front of the beef display, eying my choices and noting differences. The first thing I noticed was a lot of price difference in hamburger depending on brand and fat content. Color variation was also notable, as was texture.

People are walking by, grabbing packages of meat as I continue to just stare at this new phenomenon in my life. I finally choose a cheaper variety (it is hamburger after all) of lean, I think 90% fat free, hamburger. I couldn't believe that if you wanted 93% or 95% lean hamburger the price more than doubled. I like the flavor fat adds anyway, and it's easy to drain any excess fat off during the cooking process.

I took my newly purchased meat home and made a casserole. While cooking I noticed that it smelled different than the hamburger I'm use to and cooked different too.

But it was good, and I was happy with my choice.

Throughout the entire process I had one nagging thought in my head, "where did this come from?"I can tell you the entire life story of the beef I typically eat. It was a little disconcerting to put my trust in someone I didn't know to provide me with my food.

I learned that as a consumer I am interested in knowing where my food is produced. I read everything I could on several different hamburger options before making a decision. I wanted to know about that product, as most consumers do.

My advice? Get to know the guy behind the meat counter. If I had been purchasing anything but hamburger (steak, roast...) I would have asked the meat person what their recommendations were. These people know what they're doing and can give you solid advice.

My first meat buying experience was positive, if a little overwhelming. It certainly gave me a new perspective.


  1. so interesting. I read this post aloud to my mom - we're both so intrigued with your knowledge & way of life. So different from what we know! Keep up the excellent blogs and enjoy your weekend :) xo

  2. Great perspective, Heather. I had the same moment in the Laramie Albertson's once when I ran out of beef between trips home. I actually called my mom and had to ask her seemingly silly questions, like, "What do you make stew with when there is nothing stamped 'Nelson: stew meat," and "This ground beef looks like worms to me. Is that the same hamberger we get?" And I know exactly what you mean about the different smell from store beef...
    It is a great reminder of what consumers are faced with every day, and the amount of outreach there needs to be to created empowered, educated beef buyers!

  3. this was a really interesting post. I've never thought about it before - I've always lived in big cities so I've always just bought store meat. Hmm.