In Alberta, we often take our high quality beef for granted– or we may even be so proud that we would not dare to try anything from outside our borders. In reality, we have so much in common with places like the U.S.A., Argentina and Japan because our industries, cultures and environments help promote ethical farmers to raise happy, healthy cows. For more information, read on for D’Arcy’s Meat Market’s guide to Wagyu beef fact versus Wagyu beef fiction.
FICTION: “Wagyu beef is outside of Japan.”
FACT: Wagyu beef cattle may not be exported outside of Japan, but both their meat and DNA are widely distributed. Many markets breed Wagyu-certified DNA into their cattle to improve the quality, as well as the marketability. Cuts of Wagyu beef are specially shipped to high-end customers including Michelin-star restaurants, luxury hotels and private chefs.
FICTION: “Kobe beef and Wagyu beef are the same thing.”
FACT: Kobe and Wagyu standards have different specifications, many of which control what can and cannot be called officially certified Kobe beef or Wagyu beef. North American Kobe is common and still a high quality cut of beef, but true Kobe and Wagyu products come only from Japan. As mentioned above, there are also many North American breeds crossed with Japanese cow DNA in an effort to improve its quality and marketability.
FICTION: “All beef labeled ‘wagyu’ is of the same quality.”
FACT: Translated from Japanese, “wagyu” means “Japanese cow”– unless properly certified, this may be normal-grade beef from Japan. Always check the source of any food you buy, as it is the only way to be sure you are getting the product for which you paid. Specialty food like Wagyu beef is particularly important to verify, as unethical vendors will charge you a premium no matter what.
FICTION: Wagyu beef cows are massaged and force-fed sake (Japanese rice wine).
FACT: These are common rumours, but they are misconceptions popularized outside of Japan. While it is true that certified Wagyu farmers keep many close secrets developed over centuries of expertise, the effects of the rumoured treatments would have little effect on the beef’s quality– it could even reduce the quality! Much like Alberta beef and other major cattle production areas, the Wagyu industry self-regulates and is overseen by government agencies.
The above myths are only a sampling of the many assumptions people make about Wagyu beef an other international delicacies. For a comprehensive understanding of Wagyu beef, its production and its features, bring your questions and concerns to D’Arcy’s today!