The Rural Style Disappears

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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With the Industrial Revolution, draft animals were slowly replaced by machines. City populations and the middle class grew, and along with them the demand for meat, which encouraged the rise of large-scale specialized meat production. In 1927 the U.S. Department of Agriculture enshrined the identification of quality with urban-style fattiness when it based its beef grading system on the amount of “marbling” fat deposited within the muscles (see box). Meat from mature animals began to disappear in North America, and ever more efficient industrial production took the urban style to new extremes.