Tuesday, January 25, 2011

National Meat Week, January 30-February 6

National Meat Week is January 30-February 6 and is the perfect time to celebrate the many protein options available in the meat case at the local grocery store—and the farmers who produce it.

“Compared to decades ago, today’s consumers have an array of meat options when shopping in their local supermarket,” said David White, executive director of the Ohio Livestock Coalition (OLC). “The key to navigating the meat case is to know the similarities and differences between the various choices so consumers can make informed decisions and feel good about the product they are taking home to feed their families.”

Experts at the OLC recommend the following tips to make the next trip to the meat case a breeze:

Get to know the local butcher. Whether purchasing at a supermarket or a meat market, the butcher can answer questions, such as how to purchase meat, what’s a good buy, and how to prepare and cook it.

Look for specials. Be a smart shopper and review weekly specials before heading to the grocery store, and purchase meat when it’s on sale. Sometimes chicken may be least expensive. At other times, the best buy might be pork, beef, turkey or lamb. Another way to stretch the dollar is to purchase a whole cut, such as a whole pork loin that can be divided into four different cuts of meat – pork roast, pork chops, strips and cubes.

Read the labels. Meat labels provide a wealth of information. The label states the type of meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, veal or lamb), the wholesale cut (loin, rib, shoulder, leg, etc.) and the retail cut (steak, chops, roast, etc.). The label also includes the sell-by-date, the weight of the meat, cost per pound and total price.

Check the packaging. Look for packaging that does not contain any holes or tears, and make sure that the meat is cool to the touch.

Keep the quality. All fresh meat is perishable and must be handled and stored properly to avoid spoilage and food-borne illness. Upon arriving home, immediately place meat in the refrigerator. If individuals do not plan to use the meat within a few days, freeze the package at 0°F or colder.

Eggs are not found in the local meat case, but they are an additional important source of protein. Eggs are often referred to as “the perfect food” because they have only 75 calories, and are packed with high-quality protein. In fact, they’re often used as the standard against which other proteins are measured.

In addition, milk, cheese and yogurt are good sources of protein and are quick, portable and easy options to include in lunchtime meals.

During National Meat Week – and every week – take the opportunity to learn more about the variety of options available in the supermarket and the farmers who provide the safe, affordable, high-quality products.

The OLC, formed in 1997, is a statewide trade organization consisting of diverse agriculture organizations and individual farmers committed to advancing environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically viable livestock farming practices.

For more information about Ohio’s livestock farmers, and their role in providing Ohioans with safe, wholesome, affordable food, please visit the Ohio Livestock Coalition’s Web site at www.ohiolivestock.org. Links to the individual sites of livestock groups also are available there.

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