National Geographic : 2014 Nov
122 national geographic • november 2014 On the kill floor at Edes Custom Meats in Amarillo, Justin Hatch reaches for a hook to suspend a cow that’s just been killed and skinned. Next he’ll cut it in half with a power saw. The sides are “dry aged” for 21 days in a cooler (right) to concentrate the flavor. Small meat-packers like Edes were once common, but today 82 percent of U.S . beef passes through plants that process thousands of cattle a day and are owned by just four corporations. Behind Hatch, the head of the cow awaits the USDA inspector, who’ll check the glands and carcass for signs of disease. Every cow slaughtered commercially in the U.S. is inspected.