Angus beef. It seems to be everywhere. Grocery stores advertise it in their flyers and call attention to it with signs in the meat department. Steakhouses announce it on their menus, usually throwing in a few supportive adjectives like "tender" and "well-aged." Fast food restaurants offer Angus burgers—plain old "hamburgers," after all, are so last century.
If you set up a blind taste test, with random participants sampling steaks or burgers from Angus, Herefords, Charolais, and probably even buffalo, I suspect most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference. The perceived virtue of Angus beef has more to do with the quality of the marketing than the quality of the meat itself.
Personally, I prefer Herefords, especially in the spring. Not for any differences in the beef, or any lingering prejudice against the Scots, or any bias because the cows I remember from childhood were red and white instead of black. Quite simply, the calves are cuter. A brand-new Hereford calf is almost as appealing as a puppy or a kitten, mostly because its little white face is so bright and clean in contrast with its red-brown body. A baby Angus just doesn't register quite as high on the cuteness scale.
Still, the good people at the American Angus Association have been working hard over the past couple of decades to persuade us all that Angus beef is better. If they've had any doubts about their success, a classified ad that appeared this week in the "yard and garden" section of our local newspaper should reassure them that they've done well.
In fact, the ad was a completely logical and even inevitable outcome (if you'll pardon the expression) of the Angus marketing campaign. It advertised "Angus manure."
The perfect fertilizer, presumably, for beefsteak tomatoes.
I raised both Hereford and Angus cattle when we were farming. There are some advantages to the Angus. One is that those white faces attract face flies, which were such a painful problem that some calves actually went blind from the constant irritation. Hereford cows , any way a lot of them, gave too much milk for the baby calves and you wound up with a lot of older cows with spoiled bags. But I did find that those old Hereford bulls were gentler than those snorting Angus. Since I have been out of the business for 25 years, perhaps a lot of changes have occured in the cattle industry….