An Open Letter to the Beef Industry

I just got back from the grocery store and I can’t stay quiet any longer. Something has been bothering me beef-wise for a long time, and I bet I’m not the only one. I am talking about your labeling. It is written in a language I don’t understand. I’m not sure, but I think you might be using industry insider language on the outside.

Other industries have realized this is no way to attract and retain customers. For example, you don’t see Charmin trying to sell more toilet paper by continually telling people what part of the tree was cut and pressed before it reached them. That’s because Charmin knows the only thing their customers care about is feeling nice and clean down there. Why haven’t you figured this out yet?

For background, I have loved beef for as long as I can remember. I grew up eating hamburgers, my husband and I bonded over our mutual love for steak on our first date, and a hot open-faced pot roast sandwich for dinner on a crisp fall evening makes me so happy I could cry. I am a big fan of yours, and I am annoyed every bit as you are by vegetarians who go bananas over roasted brussel sprouts or pickled beets in a jar. I am on your side 110 percent, and I am here to help.

Today, I had an idea to make Asian Beef Stir Fry for dinner. This wasn’t too difficult for me to achieve, thanks to the words “Stir Fry” on your label, so kudos for that. But, in your world, what does “round” mean? Can you tell me?

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Beef Round Stir Fry

What is round about a cow? Do you cut the meat into a round shape, and then declare it perfect for stir fry? If that is true, then what kind of dish would use a triangular shape of beef? Is there a reason why the label can’t simply say, “Beef Strips for Stir Fry”?

Here is another one:

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Flank Steak

I know I have some recipes that call for flank steak, and I know they are delicious, but I have no idea what a flank is, and I’m pretty sure I don’t need to know. I just need to know that this particular cut is lean, juicy, and quick to cook. Other Moms may have committed this flank steak fact to memory, but I haven’t, and I don’t have any room in my purse for a Beef to English/English to Beef dictionary.

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Beef Boneless Skirt Steak

Was this cow wearing a skirt when it was slaughtered? Honestly, whatever the cow does in his private life is none of my business. The only thing I care about is how he should be prepared. Oven? Crock-pot? Grilled over an open flame? Just cut to the chase. Stop being so coy.

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Semi Boneless Rib Eye

These do not look like ribs, and I don’t see any eyes. I am familiar with the phrase “Rib Eye,” but it doesn’t connect me to your product in any meaningful way. It doesn’t convey anything about how good the beef will taste or how much I will enjoy it, and honestly, that should be your goal. The experience of the end-user should be your priority. This is like, Marketing 101. Instead, I think the label above should read, “A rich steak that is full of fat and flavor.”

Finally, this is my favorite:

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Boneless Chuck Roast

This cow must have been a total egomaniac to insist his name be printed on the label. Who cares what your name is (was), Chuck? Now I am going to eat you! Pass the potatoes!

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