In prehistoric times, we lived as hunter-gatherers. The primitive man hunted and consumed wild animals, including the bovine in its many forms. Some of the oldest cave paintings, such as the one in Lascaux, France, depict aurochs, the ancestor of domestic cattle, being hunted.
As early as 8,000 BC man began domesticating animals including the bovine. The cattle came in two forms, one type Bos Taurus came from Europe, and the other Bos indices came from South East Asia and Africa.
The Spanish brought cattle to the Americas through Mexico. Starting with Columbus himself on his second voyage in 1493, cattle began to make their way from Europe to the New World. The trend continued with the Spaniard Vera Cruz and Portuguese traders.
Later, in 1611, the English brought large numbers of cattle to North America, specifically to the Jamestown colony. The French and English colonists continued to raise cattle throughout the eastern portion of North America throughout the development of the colonies and the Revolutionary War.
Beef, however, was not a significant part of the American diet until after the Civil War. Up until then cattle was used for milk, butter, hides and for drafting. The wild game available contributed greatly to meat consumption. After the Civil War, cattle moved west. In the west, cattlemen found that some of the Spanish missions already had large herds.
In the 19th century, cattle were primarily raised in the west where traditional food crops were harder to cultivate. The cattle grazed on native grasses and were moved, in cattle drives, to feedlots where they were fattened up. They were transported by train to the mid-west where they were slaughtered and shipped via refrigerator cars to the east where the majority of the population was. Chicago was the main focus point for the trains and therefore for the stockyards and slaughter houses. Thus today we have the Chicago Bulls as a basketball team.
Industrialization changed many things in the United States, including the way cattle are raised, slaughtered and processed. The process has been systematically developed and mechanized in a no-nonsense scientific manner, similar to a production line in a Ford model T factory.
In today’s time, as a result of industrialization and the scientific progress made, we find packed feedlots and highly efficient slaughtering and processing techniques.
The increased use of feedlots has created the need for antibiotic usage in cattle for maintaining health in unsanitary conditions. Additionally, advances in bioengineering have created synthetic growth hormones and steroids used to increase beef output per head of cattle.
As America’s culture has evolved, we find a growing demand for grass fed beef. Beef that is raised in open pastures and not put through the feedlot/packing house system that has dominated the landscape of beef production in the US. There is also a rising demand for organic beef as well as people are learning more about diet and nutrition.
Today’s grocery store has neatly packaged beef products ranging from roasts to steaks to ground beef. And as of late we see organic and grass fed beef options landing on the shelves side by side with conventional beef products. It has been a long road from caveman times to today, but beef has been there, with man, throughout the entire timeline of human history.
Chef Todd’s Health & Wellness Facts: Beef
Great cuts of beef for grilling are Flank steak, Rib eye, Fillet, NY strip, T-bone , Porter house. When choosing steak, the healthiest choices are lean cuts that minimize your intake of saturated fat. Flank steak comes from the back legs, a more active part of the cow and as a result has a lower fat content.
Because of flank steak coming from the most active part of the cow which has more defined muscle mass. Flank steak should be cooked with Marinades to help breakdown tendons and tough tissue this helps the meat become more palatable. Flank steak should only be cooked to internal temperatures of no more than 130 degrees, Medium rare. If steak is cooked any more than it has a tendency to be more tough. After cooking beef and all protiens always let sit for approximately 15 to 20 minutes for internal juice to disperse and settle before slicing
Calories and Macronutrients
A 100 g, or about 3.5 oz., serving of Flank steak contains 247 calories – about 65 calories more than an equal serving of flank steak. While the flank steak contains 7 g of fat, 3 g of which are saturated, the rib eye offers 15 g of fat, with 6 g saturated. Eating too much saturated fat can raise your risk of developing heart disease. Both steaks contain 0 g of carbohydrates and almost the same amount of protein – 28 g for flank steak and 27 g for rib eye.
Flank steak has a slight edge over rib eye in terms of B vitamin content. B vitamins help regulate the function of your red blood cells, while assisting the body extract energy from food. Both types of steak offer similar amounts of niacin and B-6. The 3.5 oz-serving of flank steak provides .2 mg of riboflavin and 4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 compared to .1 mg of riboflavin and 1.6 micrograms of B-12 in rib eye.
Flank steak also has a greater mineral concentration than rib eye. The 3.5 oz. serving of flank steak provides 3 mg of iron versus 1.8 mg in 3.5 oz. of rib eye. The flank steak also has slightly more phosphorus, zinc, potassium and selenium.
You should cook redeye with quick methods such as broiling, grilling or frying. Flank steak may benefit from a marinade, as it does not have the fat to add flavor and tenderness. You can broil or grill flank steak as well. London broil, which you cook in large pieces and slice very thin, comes from flank steak. Eating more than 18 oz. of red meat weekly could raise your risk of developing colon cancer, notes the Harvard school of Public Health.
Reference & Research Material:
Nutrition and you.com, Wikipedia.com, About.com, USDA Agricultural, Livestrong.com, Beef council industry info