I live for barbeque season. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of getting that meat done just right, and nothing like the gratification that comes with sharing it with friends and family gathered on a sunny summer’s day.
When it comes to successful barbeque, I have a bit more skin in the game than most. You see, for me a quality eating experience at a family or community function isn’t just a personal goal – it’s a professional calling. My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is committed to helping meat and poultry producers market their high quality products to consumers across the nation (and the world), and quality is the name of our game.
As the Deputy Administrator of the AMS Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program, one of the programs I take considerable pride in is the quality standards and grades we develop and administer for beef products. We officially grade 18.4 billion pounds of beef each year according to these standards, supporting farmers and ranchers, and promoting an industry that is committed to quality products. These USDA beef quality grades also serve as a beacon to consumers looking for quality beef products to serve their families.
Success with barbeque meats isn’t always easy, but that’s what makes it fun. The classic beef brisket is a good example. A beautifully smoked beef brisket is sure to please and will keep people talking about your barbecue skills and gatherings for years to come. But it can be a challenge to get it right – it takes a combination of the right technique and the right ingredients – and no ingredient is more important than the brisket itself. So, take a tip from a professional: look for the USDA grade mark when you shop the meat section, and choose either a USDA Choice or USDA Prime brisket to ensure drool-inducing results!
Official USDA quality grades provide assurance that your beef cuts meet specific quality thresholds that are individually assessed by a select staff of just over 140 skilled and highly trained USDA beef graders. And, most importantly for all of you who love perfectly smoked meats as much as I do, shopping by these USDA beef quality grades are a sure-fire way to select the right beef for your ‘que.
So, go grab a USDA Choice or, if you want to splurge, a USDA Prime beef brisket, get your smoker stoked and ready, and prepare to bask in the eternal glory of a good barbeque you put together for those you care about!