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Fresh meat smoked with delicious hickory and other flavours. Whole chicken, pork chops, turkey and more!

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A Tip by the Butcher

What to look for when shopping for protein

Lots of people ask what to look for when they are buying protein. Beef, pork, lamb, veal or chicken, no matter what you buy for your family, meat is usually the most expensive part of grocery shopping.

High quality beef, pork and poultry meat can be found in all local grocery stores. All retail meat has been inspected for safety before being cut into the retail products. But, bacterial infestation, bad storage procedures or improper packaging can cause good meat to lose quality. These are some of the things to look for when buying protein for your families.

Visual Identification

The visual identification of quality meat is based on color, marbling and water holding capacity. The meat should have a normal red color that is uniform throughout the entire cut. Beef, lamb, and pork should also have marbling throughout the meat. Marbling is small streaks of fat that are found within the muscle and can be seen in the meat cut. The marbling will increase the juiciness, tenderness and flavor the product.

Water holding capacity can be witnessed by looking at the package, if excess water is found in the bottom of the retail package, it may lead to a dry cooked product.  The cut should hold water within the meat to add to juiciness.


Another quality identification is smell. The product should have a normal smell.  This will be different for each of the species (i.e. beef, pork, chicken), but should vary only slightly within the species. Any rancid or strange smelling meat should be avoided.


Meat should appear firm rather than soft. When handling the retail package, it should be firm, but not tough. It should give under pressure, but not actually be soft.

An unsliced roast usually costs less than one that is sliced and tied. Whole chicken is usually a better buy than chicken parts. A whole turkey usually provides more meat than boned, rolled turkey roast.