ANALYSIS - The construction of meat – the muscle fibre, the fat, the acidity and the colour – are all important aspects of its quality.
Understanding how these essential aspects of meat link together goes a long way to understanding how to handle meat, cut it, trim it and even how to look after the animals before they are slaughtered.
A new book by Howard J Swatland, Eating Meat: Science & Consumption Culture, cuts through some of the myths surrounding meat culture and looks at the essential facts surrounding meat that make it a product that is loved and consumed by millions.
This new look at eating meat takes a very personal viewpoint on the issue, while at the same time setting out the science behind the product, the do’s and don’ts in meat handling and butchering and the essential facts behind a good cut of meat.
The book looks at red meat sources from farm animals to game and looks at welfare concerns for the animals as well as the conversion of muscle into a meat product.
It also looks at some of the confusion surrounding red meat with the variety of different names that can be applied to the same cut from various quarters of the world.
The book takes the reader through an understanding of what is meant by the term “meat”, its structure as a food and its place in the whole chain.
It looks at carcase structure, meat colour, acidity and fluid release, toughness and fat content, cooking methods and the reasoning behind cooking.
However, while steeped in meat science and with a definite technical appreciation, Mr Swatland also humanises the story of meat.
He looks at the ethics behind the product, demonstrating the handling methods for animals, stunning methods, transportation, carcase dressing, meat inspection and refrigeration.
At the same time, he offers his own personal ethical beliefs and counters some of the many attempts by non-meat eaters to disparage the product.
He combines an historical trip through the development of meat products with the social issues behind meat production and consumption as well as explaining the science behind meat production.
The book is aimed at a broad spectrum of readers from the professional to the student, the meat scientist to the gourmet and indeed the interested consumer, who wants to find out a little more about the story behind what makes a good meal on the dinner plate.