Beef, Cows & Cattle: Man’s first Farm Machinery

In case you hadn’t guessed from the Braciola recipe, I’m currently researching and writing about beef. This pleases me to no end, as I am a fairly apreciative cow fan.

Remains of domesticated cattle dating to 6,500 B.C. have been found in Turkey and other sites in the Near East. But recent DNA samplings have actually shown that modern day herding cattle actually comes from Africa. Some authorities date the domestication of cattle as early as 10,000 years ago, and others almost half that amount of time. Regardless of the time frame it is generally accepted that the domestication of cattle followed sheep, goats, and pigs.

Eating beef regularly is actually a fairly new development. That’s not to say that they didn’t eat ribs or a nice steak back in the day. They did. But the oxen that populated farms had more value than simply as a meat source. Not only did they provide milk for dairy purposes, but they also were used as draught animals to pull ploughs and carts. They were often slaughtered only at
the end of their working lives. As such, the quality of the meat was probably very poor.

Cow manure was also used as fuel for some cultures. As such, cattle was probably the most important animal in ones inventory. Some historians speculate that the reason Hindus believe the cow is sacred is specifically because a cow is often far more valuable alive than dead. A dead cow can only provide meat. A live cow can provide cheese, milk, plow your fields,and heat your home and oven. Economically speaking, if you killed your cattle for food, you were probably really in dire need.

We’ve come a long way since that time, especially here in America. We love our beef here, as the United States is one of the top beef producing countries in the world (Australia is up there as well). All 50 states have beef cattle and 30 states each have at least 10,000 cattle farms and ranches. The United States produces about 25% of the world’s beef supply with less than 10% of the world’s cattle population. To put in bluntly…we love cow.

There’s possibly much to write about when it comes to beef. Not just the recipes, but the health aspects, as well as how to cook, and which cuts are best. I’ll try to cover as many of these topics that I can, as long as I can maintain interest. Because after beef, I’ll be researching wine and cheese. All bets are off on which I find more compelling.

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