Cattle Branding: The Rise of Black Angus Beef

Chef Claude Rodier and NPR's John Ydstie

hide captionChef Claude Rodier and NPR's John Ydstie compare steaks at Blackies restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Tracy Wahl, NPR

Thirty years ago, Hereford cows populated the cattle farms of the American countryside. There were a few black cows and an occasional blonde Charlois, but the red and white Herefords made up the vast majority of beef cattle. Today, many of those farms are dotted with only black cows, most from a breed called Black Angus.

How to Cook a Perfect Steak

NPR's John Ydstie gets some advice from Chef Claude Rodier in the kitchen of Blackies restaurant in Washington, D.C.

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In grocery stores and restaurants, the "Certified Angus Beef" label stands out in big, bold print on menus and labels. Black Angus cattle fetch a premium at cattle auctions and even non-Angus cattle are now bred to be black. Genius branding may have fueled the fire, but is Angus beef really superior? NPR's John Ydstie visits the experts — a cattle farmer, a professor and a chef — to find out why Black Angus became the beef to buy.

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