Monday, January 18, 2010

Buyer Beware

The meat department at my local Vons suckered me last week.

I had a new tri-tip recipe I wanted to give a whirl. I usually buy tri-tip at Costco but wasn’t willing to drive the 12-mile round trip just for one item. I had made my monthly Costco run the first week of January.

Vons (owned by Safeway) is one of those supermarket chains that bypassed USDA labeling to create their own unbranded brand—in this case Ranchers Reserve. Cute.

When they introduced this “brand” a few years ago I cornered one of the meat cutters wearing a bloodstained white apron. He was evasive about the grade of beef as it related to the USDA grades of prime, choice, select, standard, and road kill.

So I drastically cut back my Vons’ beef purchases unless I needed chuck for my pot roast recipe. With a pot roast the braising process renders beef so tender you don’t even need teeth.

Last Friday I bit on three-pound-plus tri-tip cut on sale. Big mistake.

During my Saturday night prep time I took the cut out of the package only to discover a large slab of fat hidden under the cut. By the time I finished trimming the hidden slab and some other fat, my three-pound-plus cut weighed a little less than two pounds. I had trimmed off one and one quarter pounds of fat!

I will be having a chat with another Vons’ person when I do my weekly shopping this week, only this time the manager.

If stopping by my website, click on videos and watch the one entitled “Where’s the Beef? Here’s Your Beef,”—a bit long, but lots of good meat in it about meat. The tri-tip I used in that video was purchased at Costco and didn’t need any fat trimming. So even though it was not on sale at Costco, I still paid less, pound for pound, than the Vons tri-tip cut on sale. Plus, the Costco cut was USDA Choice, not Ranchers Reverse Obese.

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