In the early 1960s, American consumers began to abandon well marbled beef and pork for less fatty cuts and for lean poultry. Since marbling develops only after the animals’ rapid muscle growth slows, the meat industry was happy to minimize fattening and improve its production efficiency. Consumer and producer preferences for lean beef led the USDA to reduce its marbling requirements for the top grades in 1965 and 1975.
The modern style of meat, then, combines elements of the traditional styles: young like the city meats, lean like the country meats, and therefore both mild and easily dried out during cooking. Cooks now face the challenge of adapting hearty country traditions to these finicky ingredients.