Why does ostrich meat look and taste more like beef than chicken?

Why does ostrich meat look and taste more like beef than chicken?

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Some time ago I tasted ostrich meat, and what was amazing to me was that the meat very much resembled beef, much more than it resembled chicken, turkey or duck meat. And even more than lamb and pork resemble beef.

The resemblance is both in look, both raw and grilled, and in taste (only tried grilled). I would have thought that the meat of related animals would have similar taste. Why is it that the meat of an ostrich, which is a bird, doesn't taste like that of other birds?

Warning, the following links are to pictures of meats!

There is a very plausible explanation here.

Basically, it explains that meat colour is due to the protein myoglobin (a haem-containing protein related to haemoglobin). There are two types of skeletal muscle: fast-twitch and slow-twitch (Wikipedia). Slow-twitch muscle is red muscle because it contains lots of myoglobin. Fast-twitch muscle is white muscle, containing less myoglobin. The Wikipedia link explains a little more about these muscle types and their functional differences. Evidently the lifestyle of the ostrich dictates that it have more fast-twitch muscle, and so it has red meat. It isn't unique in this: duck and goose are classified as red meat too.

Incidentally the role of myoglobin is to improve the rate of diffusion of oxygen from the haemoglobin in the capillaries through the cytoplasm of the myocytes to the mitochondria. It has also been suggested that it acts as an oxygen storage mechanism in diving mammals which have very high levels of myoglobin in their muscles, but this storage function is unlikely to be important in other mammals, despite what you may read in textbooks.

Ostrich: The Other Red Meat

In early September, Banger’s, a sausage house and beer garden in Austin, Texas, was hosting its monthly whole-animal roast. But the centerpiece of the dinner didn’t look like anything you might expect. After meeting some people with a connection to an ostrich grower, executive chef Ted Prater had wrangled himself a whole ostrich at a cost of about $1,000. He’d cooked ostrich in the past, but “whole animal cookery is different,” he said—and especially so when it comes to the famously tall bird.

Prater tried to research the best way to cook a whole ostrich online, but there was nothing there. “I talked to [chefs] around the country, and no one had ever cooked a whole ostrich,” he said. The meat should be cooked between medium rare and medium—that much Prater knew. But that was about it. The anatomy of the bird was different from anything he’d seen before. “There’s nothing in the chest area it’s just a rib cage. Everything is on the rump and legs.” But it was too late to go back, so Prater let it sit in a salt-and-sugar rub for 24 hours, then wrapped the ostrich in bacon—a hedge against the lean meat, which dries out easily—before putting it in the smoker.

Even if the bird turned out perfectly, he knew it might be harder to sell than a pig roast. “I really educated my staff the morning of the smoke-out and prior to it,” Prater said. “I told them not to tell people it tastes like chicken.” When he paraded the raw ostrich through the beer garden on its way to 12 hours in the smoker, people had no idea what he was carrying. “People were interested, and everyone was taking pictures and asking about it,” Prater said.

Despite his guesswork, Prater said he wouldn’t change anything about his preparation. “It was the most beautiful roast you could possibly think of,” he said. “Ostrich is an excellently flavored bird, period.” A lot of people who ended up buying plates had never had ostrich and didn’t realize how delicious it was.

If a dedicated group of ostrich growers throughout the United States have their way, ostrich could be what’s for dinner once more.

Much like with the cartoonish platypus, the blobfish, or the extinct dodo, to know anything about the ostrich is to wonder if it’s some kind of evolutionary joke. It’s a flightless bird that stands up to nine feet tall, can weigh 350 pounds, and can run as fast as 45 miles per hour—roughly the same speed as the horses running the Kentucky Derby. The bird’s long legs and neck are completely bare of feathers, while its body carries a mass of plumes that for centuries people have sought for fashion and feather dusters alike. Although ostriches are now raised in disparate climates around the world, the imprint of their natural range in the arid grasslands and deserts of Africa remains: They don’t need to drink water (they can get all their hydration from plants), and despite their stature, they have a relatively small ecological footprint thanks to their sparse native habitat. The plume market may be a thing of the past, but ostrich meat has potential for the future: Not only can the birds thrive on little, but the low-fat red meat is more akin to beef than any other poultry in the grocery aisle. The only problem is, you can’t often find it there.

Today there are an increasing number of ostrich growers throughout the United States who believe this bird could achieve popularity to match its size. Though some growers see ostrich as more of a tourist attraction than a business, many ranchers have spent decades laying the groundwork for a market that could put an ostrich in every extra large pot. But the bird has a difficult past: Twice, world markets have gambled on ostrich. Both times many got rich—then lost it all.

The first ostrich boom started in the late 1800s in vast, dusty expanses of South Africa’s Little Karoo region. The feathers of the native bird became the fashion item du jour throughout the world, “ounce for ounce, more precious than gold,” as Rob Nixon writes in his book Dreambirds. In the town of Oudtshoorn, you could track the growth of ostrich fortunes by watching all the ornate “feather palaces” being built. American farmers started their own ostrich farms to get a piece of the growing feather rush. In 1913, at the peak of the industry, 100,000 tons of ostrich feathers were shipped from the Little Karoo throughout the world, Nixon writes.

But fashions changed, and before long, ostrich plumes started showing up in feather dusters and cheap toys instead of adorning the finest-quality dresses and hats. Feather-based riches fell as quickly as they’d come.

Then, in the 1980s, the birds came back, and once again thanks to a fashion trend, Ostrich leather was in high demand for bags, shoes, and other items, but antiapartheid sanctions against South Africa slowed the global supply to a halt. Investors became farmers after seeing a way to make a quick buck, perhaps even to pay for retirement. Between 1986 and the 1990s, the cost for a breeding pair of ostrich in the United States increased by 500 percent, to $50,000—though some breeders could command prices of $100,000.

But the boom was self-defeating—no one was going to slaughter birds that were worth so much, for meat or for leather. Even if they’d wanted to, the infrastructure just didn’t exist: There weren’t enough independent slaughterhouses or processing plants that were capable of dealing with the tall birds. In the ’80s and ’90s, ostrich was less of an industry than a pyramid scheme built on the backs of live animals.

In the late 1990s, there were 1,643 ostrich farms in the United States. By 2012, the USDA recorded 258. Some ostriches were simply let out of the gates to roam free, not worth the money to care for. One headline from 1997 read, “County Jail Inmates in Arizona Will Soon Get the Gift of Ostrich Meat.”

Joel Brust paid boom-time prices for the first birds that stalked around Indian Point Ostrich Ranch in Tehachapi, California, but grew his business slowly. He patented a process for cutting the meat that he believes makes the cuts more consistent, tender, and easy to handle. The American public is used to cooking red meat like beef with ostrich’s vastly lower fat content, it can become dried out and flavorless—not what you want after buying a $40 ostrich steak. This is important when it comes to the fan fillet, the most prized cut on an ostrich. Most consider the fan, taken from the upper thigh, to be the tenderest part as well as the largest cut. It can cost as much as $40 per pound, which is why Brust and other ostrich growers often sell this cut to “white-tablecloth restaurants” or directly to consumers.

Most people who have tried ostrich aren’t eating fan fillets for one simple reason: There are just two per bird, and they cost a lot. That’s why you’re more likely to find ostrich served in burger form, which is both cheaper and more inviting for the non-initiated. Today Tehachapi visitors can find Brust’s ostrich meat, often in ground form, at the local Albertsons grocery or in an ostrich burger from a joint called Burger Spot.

Ostrich steak prepared with peppered edge.
(Photo: Dirk Albrecht/Getty Images)

The meat, and much of the publicity, comes from Brust—but he needs other ostrich growers to work with him under an affiliate program to cultivate the industry. To get ostrich into a Whole Foods, for example, growers would need to guarantee that they could deliver a certain amount of meat. For a lone ostrich grower, that quantity would almost surely be more than he or she could muster. But if a group of farms came together under the umbrella of a single brand, they could likely make it work.

While ostrich growers are all hoping the third time will be a charm for the industry, each one wants to believe he or she will become the face of ostrich. Each sees a market waiting to explode that might make it difficult to commit to working “for” somebody’s affiliate and brand. Brust is in his early 70s and, despite his commitment to making ostrich the next red meat, is ready to retire. “I can’t do it all,” he said. He’s been quietly downsizing over the last three years and put his business up for sale early in 2016.

“A lot of people aren’t raising them anymore,” said Boyd Clark, a longtime ostrich grower from Texas and vice president of the American Ostrich Association. “After the crash, so many people got out of the business that there aren’t a lot of people left to get back into it.”

What’s So Special About Ostrich Eggs?

According to American Ostrich Association, ostrich eggs may be the largest of all eggs but they’re the smallest eggs in association to the bird’s size One ostrich egg usually weighs between 1,600 to 2,300 grams or 3.5 to 5 pounds. In terms of volume, one ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs.

An ostrich hen can produce about 40 to 60 eggs every year. When incubated, an ostrich egg can get hatched in 42 days. Ostrich eggs are hatched in the wild while the mother ostrich sits on them, while those raised in a farming environment only need incubation.


Chemical Development and Reactions of Meat Flavour

Cooked meat flavour is the result of chemical reactions that occur within and between the lipid and lean portions of meat during cooking. Raw meat contains very little aroma. Raw meat aroma can be described as blood-like or having a serumy taste, but precursors to cooked meat flavour are contained within raw meat even though in the raw state these precursors are nonvolatile or nondetectable. In general, cooked meat flavour develops as a result of interactions of amino acids, peptides, reducing sugars, vitamins and nucleotides from the lean component, or their breakdown products, during cooking. Lipids also play a role in meat flavour and much of the species-specific flavour of meat is derived from adipose tissue. Lipid degradation and oxidation both contribute to meat flavour, usually negatively by contributing off-flavours.

Broadly, meat flavour is the result of the development of hydrocarbons, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, esters, lactones, ethers, furans, pyridines, pyrazines, pyrroles, oxazoles and oxazolines, thiazoles and thiazolines, thiophenes and other sulfur- and halogen-containing substances during chemical reaction with heating. Sulfurous and carbonyl-containing volatile compounds are thought to be mainly responsible for flavour aromatics in meat. These chemical reactions are complex and intermediate reaction products can inter-react with multiple products.

From a sensory standpoint, meat flavour is segmented into multiple components. Aroma or smell prior to consumption is sensed by the olfactory senses. Flavour aromatics are perceived by the olfactory senses during chewing and basic receptors on the tongue. Mouthfeels are identified from the trigeminal receptors in the mouth that provides astringent and metallic sensory attributes and aftertastes are perceived after swallowing. Afterstastes are almost always flavour attributes perceived by the olfactory senses. The underlying chemical components that contribute to these sensory attributes have been studied extensively.

Ostrich . It's What's For Dinner

Ostrich farming in the United States has never had a lot of staying power. But with the ever-increasing focus on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions for which meat production, especially beef, is partly to blame, perhaps ostrich's time has truly come.

Meat from this seven-foot African bird, unlike chicken or turkey, resembles beef in taste, coloring, and texture--in fact, it's often compared to filet mignon. It's also leaner--97-percent fat free--lower in cholesterol, and higher in iron than beef. The other differences between two proteins are the resources and environmental costs it takes to produce each. According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, about 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gasses comes from the livestock sector (an earlier report from the FAO has it at 18 percent), and cattle's responsible for about 65 percent of that. Additionally, cattle production takes a lot of water, about 1,799 gallons per pound of meat, whereas ostrich uses about four times less per pound.

"Ostrich emits virtually no methane, which is the most destructive greenhouse gas, and cows' burping and farting emit that," says Alex McCoy, an ostrich farmer near Boise, Idaho. "By incorporating ostrich into your diet, you're doing way more to fight the cause of global warming than driving their your car less, flying less, or taking shorter showers. That's small potatoes compared to the meat you put on your plate."

So why don't we eat more ostrich in the United States? To figure that out, we have to look to the past, and why farmers chose to raise the birds in the first place. Ostrich farming first took off here in the late 1800s to supply the plumage used to decorate the era's ostentatious headware. For the adventurous agrarians who imported the birds from South Africa and set up shop stateside, business was good. The New York Times reported in 1882 that a pound of top-quality ostrich feathers was going for as much as $400, which is about $9,400 today.

But by the eve of World War I, fashion sensibilities changed, and feathers were out. Since farmers were exclusively raising the animals for their feathers rather than meat, that meant good-bye to the ostrich industry. It would be another 60 years before ostrich farming would see a revival. In the 1980s, there was a boom, but the industry became more pyramid scheme than viable agriculture venture with little investment in market creation. Instead, the primary focus was on hatching and selling the birds. The unsustainable industry model imploded the following decade.

"Everyone was so focused on cranking out chicks to sell to some other sucker that no one ever created a viable end market," says McCoy. "Why would you slaughter a bird for $1,500 in revenue if you could sell it to your neighbor for $30,000? Why turn that into meat? That would be an $800 steak, so no one ever did. And as a result America never became used to eating ostrich."

McCoy wants to change that. He became a true believer while living in South Africa where eating ostrich is common. In 2013, he left his finance job at Citibank, moved back to Idaho where he grew up, and began traveling the country to learn as much as he could about ostriches and putting together a flock. He began with 80 birds of diverse genetics, and is now up to 150 on his 120-acre spread. McCoy plans to grow his flock to 2,000 by 2018. Until then, he's only processing a small number of birds, which he's selling direct-to-consumer through his company's website, American Ostrich Farms. As he scales up, he hopes to work with distributors to get his product beyond the local market. And that's really where getting more Americans to eat ostrich comes in: If ostrich farming can grow big enough to keep prices competitive and get into more stores, the more likely people are going to be willing to try it.

While ostrich is available in various places around the country, like the Union Square Farmers Market in Manhattan, no one is distributing the meat at a national level thanks to the limited scale of ostrich operations. Distributors and grocery stores take about 30 percent each of the retail value of a product, leaving the farmer with only 40 percent, says McCoy. So, most ostrich farmers distribute close to home.

However, McCoy's hoping to inspire others to begin farming ostrich for meat. The birds are relatively easy to manage, he says, lay on average about 40 eggs each a year, require much less space than cows or other larger livestock, and mature in two years for females and three years for males. They grow about a foot a month for their first six months and have a four-to-one feed conversion ratio (which means they can convert four pounds of feed into one pound of live weight), as opposed to grass-fed cattle which have a 10-to-one ratio. McCoy feeds his birds a formula he developed, with the help of a variety of nutritionists, feed specialists, and other ostrich farmers, which contains alfalfa, corn, and soybean, along with a variety of vitamins and minerals the animals need for optimal growth--no antibiotics or hormones, though. Besides the meat, farmers can make money from the skins, feathers, eggs, and fat, which is processed into an oil used for skin care, much like emu oil. McCoy considers these value-added products a bonus for farmers, but feels it is the meat that is the real prize.

"I believe in the potential of ostrich to really transform the red meat industry in the United States. I'm laser-focused on making that happen," McCoy says.

Tastes Like Chicken?

The field of culinary evolution faces one great dilemma: why do most cooked, exotic meats taste like cooked Gallus gallus, the domestic chicken?

It is curious that so many animals have a similar taste. Did each species evolve this trait independently or did they all inherit it from a common ancestor? That is the burning question.

A meat counter featuring some of the author's favorites, including turtle, emu and boar.

Evolutionary Theory: Some Background

First, some tasty technical background.

The different traits of an organism (its hair or lack thereof, its teeth or lack thereof, its lungs or lack thereof, its taste, its color, etc.) can have distinctly different evolutionary origins. Some of an organism's traits are inherited from many, many, many, many (thousands, or millions, even) generations of ancestors. Other of its traits developed late in the evolutionary history. If you compare the traits of two different kinds of organisms, you may find that:

1. Some of the things they have in common were inherited from a common ancestor while
2. Other things they have in common were not inherited from any common ancestor-but happened to have developed independently for each organism.

Modern evolutionary analysis helps us try to sort out and understand the true origins of all sorts of traits. Here's how you do it.

Cat tastes mammalian. In essence, it tastes like tetrapod.

First, you need to make a diagram showing which kinds of organisms evolved from which other kinds of organisms. (How to make this kind of chart is a whole question in itself. For a good introduction to it, see Phylogeny, Ecology, and Behavior: A Research Program in Comparative Biology, by Daniel R. Brooks and Deborah McLennan. University of Chicago Press, 1991.) Such a chart will usually turn out to be tree-shaped, and so it is called a "tree" of evolutionary ancestry (the jargon phrase for this kind of "tree" is "a phylogeny").

If you are interested in a particular trait, you can go through the tree and mark every kind of creature which has that trait. These markings on the evolutionary tree then show you whether:

1. The trait developed just once, and was then inherited by the creatures that subsequently evolved. (You will see that the trait is spread over connected branches of the tree. The name for this is synapomorphy.)
2. The trait developed independently more than once. (You will see that the trait only occurs in isolation, on tree tips. The jargon phrase for this is convergent evolution)

Here is an example of a synapomorphy. Crabs taste like lobsters because they both evolved from the same group of crabby-lobstery-tasting crustaceans.

Here is an example of convergent evolution. My finger is "rubbery" to chew on. The stalks of certain plants, too, are "rubbery to chew on." This "rubbery-ness" that the plants and I share has nothing to do with common ancestry. A chewy gristle evolved long ago among my animal ancestors. By happenstance, an unrelated, but equally chewy, substance evolved in the ancestors of those plants I mentioned.

By the way, if a trait appears on nearly all branches of an entire group of organisms, then it is called a plesiomorphic trait. This means its appearance is best explained by a single event in the ancestry of the entire group. For example, all animals have muscles (meat, if you will).

This type of analysis (as well as this type of jargon) is at the heart of much of evolutionary biology today.

Tasting the Tetropods

Swan tastes avian. In essence, it tastes like tetrapod.

For the current study, I examined a sampling of tetrapod (see Table 1A). Just so we have our jargon straight: tetrapod means "four-legged," and vertebrates means "animals that have back bones."

Many kinds of tetrapod are sold as exotic meats in marketplaces around the world. Being an affirmed carnivore, I have tasted nearly all of these species (prepared from fresh, canned or, in some cases, frozen meat). I judged the flavor of each kind of meat. In cases where I was not able to try the meat first hand (so to speak), I have consulted experts or used common knowledge. I tried to do most of the sampling myself, so as to reduce the variation in data from different tasters (n = 1, variance = 0).

Fowl-Tasting Food
As you might expect, most of the birds (Aves) have a "chicken-like" taste. The exception here is ostrich, with its "beef-like" flavor. Its meat was darker than the darkest chicken I have ever had. However, it may have been too heavily seasoned for an adequate assessment.5 With only this exception, all birds I sampled "taste like chicken."

A Menu of Mammals
Patterns of flavors for cooked mammals are not as clear-cut. The origins of "beef-like" flavor coincide with the origins of hoofed mammals. However, it is impossible to tell whether "beef-like" flavor evolved before or after "pork-like" flavor did. Of course, this argument rests on the hearsay evidence that humans themselves have a "pork-like" flavor.6 I leave it as an exercise for interested readers to settle this point.

Scrumptious Salamanders
Several meats were excluded from this study, for evolutionary or ethical reasons (see Table 1B), but we can make predictions about their cooked flavor.

Based on a variety of factors, we can predict that cooked salamanders would "taste like chicken." Their relatives all do.

Munching on Mice
Mice present a different problem. I will not eat them raw (are you surprised?), and nor can I predict how they would taste cooked. Their relatives, so far as I have been able to determine, have either "chicken-like" (in the case of the rabbit) or "beef-like" (in the case of the muskrat) flavors. Farley Mowat, in his book Never Cry Wolf, rates mouse meat as "pleasing, if rather bland."

Were Dinosaurs Delicious?
But the most intriguing hypothesis that I can propose is for the flavor of dinosaurs. The only source of dinosaur in current times would be fossils.. I made several calls to the Field Museum, in Chicago , seeking to borrow merely a single bone from their recent acquisition ("Sue" the T. rex, a large skeleton with many bones). My request is still entangled in red tape.

Fortunately, we now have knowledge that bears on the question of dinosaurs taste. Based on recent evidence for the close ancestry of dinosaurs and birds, chances are that T. rex "tastes like chicken!"

A Slogan for Our Times
As a result of this study, I must conclude that cooked flavor is a result more of ancestral inheritance than of convergent evolution. Many animals taste similar because they evolved from a common ancestor that tasted that way. The meat of our argument is that "chicken-like" flavor is ancestral (that is, plesiomorphic) for birds and many other vertebrates, as well. Indeed, the emphasis on chicken in the statement "tastes like chicken" is misleading. The common ancestor of most tetrapods would have tasted similarly, if we had only been there to cook and eat it.

I therefore propose that the use of "taste like chicken" be banished from common speech in favor of "tastes like tetrapod."

A Theory With Legs
This study puts the theories of ancestral flavor in tetrapods on a solid footing. It is tempting to propose further a theory of flavor based on leg number.

Do insects (6 legs) taste like spiders (8 legs), or do they taste more like lobster (10 legs)?

Are millipedes ten times tastier than centipedes?

These questions are under current examination in a joint research effort with other investigators to get a leg up on the broader implications of flavor evolution.

Figure 1: A phylogenetic tree with the characteristic flavors mapped onto it.

1. I have marked all characters with their earliest hypothesized evolution date.
2. Organisms with boxes at the tree tips were used as data input into the model branch tips without terminal boxes were assigned a flavor (their branch or group was assigned the flavor) inferred by the program based on shared ancestry (MacClade, ver 3.06 Maddison and Maddison 1992).

Copyright © 1998 The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). All rights reserved.

This classic article is republished with permission from the July-August 1998 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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Why does ostrich meat look and taste more like beef than chicken? - Biology

Getting to Know What Ostrich Meat Is All About

Humans need protein so that they are able to have balanced nutrition. It is this en that can be gathered through different sources. One of the most common sources of protein though is meat. It is this ne that can also come from different sources like beef, pork, chicken, and many more. One of the meats that are gaining popularity is ostrich meat. It is this one that has the same taste as beef but with fewer calories. This is the reason why it is considered to be a healthier alternative. Despite the taste though, ostrich meat is still considered to be poultry. This one is different from that of other poultry meats since it does not attract bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. It is only the turkey meat that has a lower calorie than that of the ostrich. It is also ostrich meat that has very little fat which means that it will not add any cholesterol to the body.

Whenever you are cooking ostrich meat then you will need to follow some simple tips. It is important that you will be utilizing a meat thermometer to ensure that the meat is already cooked inside. The meat inside should have a temperature of around 165ºF or and that means that it is already cooked. It is also important to also let the meat stand for around 8-10 minutes as this will complete the cooking process. This is also needed to ensure that it has already settled. Due to the lower fat content that it has, it is the one that will cook faster than that of bef. For more facts about foods, visit this website at

Once you take a look at theseostrich meats in grocery's then it is them that are usually farm bread. It is important to ensure that the ostrich has been organically reared. This will ensure that it has not been given any form of hormones of antibiotics which can cause adverse effects on humans. You can even find some ostrich that has been fed with flax seeds. This in turn will provide Omega-3 fatty acids once you eat its meat.

Why Do Beef, Pork and Chicken Taste Different?

They are all muscle protein. They can all be and are fed corn.

What makes them taste different?

Here is an article explaining exactly why - Essentially, each meat has a different amount and different type of protein, fat and sugar in it. When it is cooked, the protein, fats and sugars react with eachother through the Maillard Reaction to produce different chemicals such as furfurals, furans, pyrroles, etc.. These chemicals are mostly responsible for the taste and smell. Pork is very high in sulfur and nitrogen content- this reacts with some sugars to produce the characteristic bacon smell and taste. Chicken is low in sulfur content and has a type of sugar that makes it taste like chicken - frog legs also have these sugars, hence the similarity. This is a simplified explanation - there are very in depth studies of the exact chemical differences in scholar. There is also a huge food science industry which studies this - it is called headspace chemistry.

I would add one thing. The taste is not only taste, but is also affected by smell (try to clog your nose and taste cinnamon). So, if two things tastes the same, but they have different smell, they would taste differently.

Awesome, thanks for the link:)

Not specifically my field (out of date pharmacy) but I can give you an answer until someone better does.

When you taste any meat, you are not tasting any one chemical, rather what you experience is the combination of a whole load of sensory information taking into account a wide range of different chemical and non chemical factors (temperature, texture etc) within the meat. The simple answer is that different meat has different levels of each of these chemicals and thus a different taste.

Which chemicals do we taste then? Well things like vitamins and minerals, iron, zinc, calcium, niacin etc. are all known to impart distinct tastes. There are literally thousands of chemicals humans can taste, and frankly the process isn't entirely understood, with elements still under debate (for example we have identified the receptors for sweet, bitter and 'umami', but some propose receptors for sour and salty too with various theories and to my knowledge not a lot of fact). Beef, pork and chicken have different amount and types of nutrients, vitamins etc even varying between different animals, or cuts of meat from different parts of the same animal. This accounts for part of the difference in taste. (It is interesting to note the difference between two concentrations of the same substance can massively change the perceived taste, as in the well known example of skatole, which is a compound found in faces that smells flowery in low concentrations and rotten in high concentrations. smell and taste are very closely link and similar instances often occur).

Other factors include things like 'tenderness'. Depending on the proportion of connective tissue in the muscle (makes it less tender), proportion of fats (generally makes it more tender) and how it is prepared can drastically alter the flavour of a meat. This is due to more tender meat breaking up more easily, releasing the molecules we taste (as well as increasing its surface area), as well as very direct associations between texture and taste (some people simply find certain textures unpleasant, and vice versa).

The fat also plays a crucial role because many of the molecules we detect are hydrophobic (do not readily dissolve in water), dissolving in the fat and allowing us to taste them better. Fat also acts as the bodies store for several hydrophobic molecules, meaning that its presence often means more of specific molecules compared to less fatty meat (the hydrophobic vitamins A,D,E and K are common examples). Different animals have naturally different fat distributions, and more importantly going back to your post of 'they can all be fed by corn' many farm animals are overfed to increase fat deposits in the muscle (and/or restricted in movement/exercise). The most expensive beef is beef that has distinct visible fat deposits in the muscle (called marbling).

I guess the next big thing is specifically myoglobin. It is similar to haemoglobin and responsible for the red colour of meats. It is rich in iron and its flavour s frequently associated with similar taste to blood. As you cook the meat the iron is oxidised from a ferrous (+2) to ferric (+3) state, changing the colour to brown. The reason chicken is white is because it contains a very low concentration of myoglobin, which in turn means a greater proportion of the taste of chicken you experience is coming from the other components. Myoglobin concentration can be influenced by exercise as well, with more exercise generally resulting in more myoglobin.

So in summary beef, pork and chicken taste different because they have differing amounts of various molecules, chemicals and nutrients. The animals genetics (we use selective breeding to focus on animals that taste ➾st' to us) and the conditions it grows in, the type and amount of food its given and the amount of exercise it receives all effect the final taste.

An Ostrich Farmer with a humble beginning…

Mamadou started his ostrich farm in 2008 with about 100 birds. Today, his farm, which sits in the village of Banguineda, located South of Bamako (the Malian capital) has grown to 3,000 birds.

Far from satisfied by this astounding success, he intends to grow his ostrich flock to 10,000 birds by the year 2014, making it the largest ostrich farm in the whole of Africa.

This man has a big vision for a big bird that brings in big profits!

Apart from a few farms in South Africa, North America, Europe and Asia, ostriches are probably the least farmed birds in the world. This is quite shocking given the amazing features of the ostrich that make it such a lucrative business venture.

So, when Mamadou decided to start his ostrich farming project, he sought the help of a Korean company with specialist experience in raising and managing ostriches on a commercial scale.

Mamadou, who also owns a crocodile farm, houses his ostrich eggs in a high-tech incubator which is a major part of his strategy to expand the size of his flock to 100,000 ostriches in the long term, making it the world’s largest ostrich farm!

To give you an idea of the profitability of this venture, an ostrich egg can fetch up to $500, a breeding ostrich can sell for up to 5,000 US dollars and those with feathers which are highly prized in fashion and décor circles can be sold for up to 3,000 US dollars.

Here’s a short but very interesting video of Mamadou on his impressive ostrich farm…

Short video: Mamadou on his ostrich farm in Mali

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17. Stoltz LP, Cristiano LM, Dowling AP, Wilson JM, Platts-Mills TA, Traister RS. Could chiggers be contributing to the prevalence of galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose sensitization and mammalian meat allergy?. The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice. 2019 Feb7(2):664.

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31. Berg EA, Platts-Mills TA, Commins SP. Drug allergens and food—the cetuximab and galactose-α-1, 3-galactose story. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2014 Feb 1112(2):97-101.

32. Dunkman WJ, Rycek W, Manning MW. What does a red meat allergy have to do with anesthesia? Perioperative management of alpha-gal syndrome. Anesthesia & Analgesia. 2019 Nov 1129(5):1242-8.

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43. Stone CA, Hemler JA, Commins SP, Schuyler AJ, Phillips EJ, Peebles RS, Fahrenholz JM. Anaphylaxis after zoster vaccine: Implicating alpha-gal allergy as a possible mechanism. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2017 May 1139(5):1710-3.

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48. Mozzicato SM, Tripathi A, Posthumus JB, Platts-Mills TA, Commins SP. Porcine or bovine valve replacement in three patients with IgE antibodies to the mammalian oligosaccharide galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose. The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice. 2014 Sep2(5):637.

49. Mangold A, Szerafin T, Hoetzenecker K, Hacker S, Lichtenauer M, Niederpold T, Nickl S, Dworschak M, Blumer R, Auer J, Ankersmit HJ. Alpha-Gal specific IgG immune response after implantation of bioprostheses. The Thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon. 2009 Jun57(04):191-5.

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56. Steinke JW, Platts-Mills TAE, Schuyler A, Commins SP. Reply to “The common food additive carrageenan and the alpha-gal epitope”. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2015 Oct 28 136(6):1709-10

57. Commins SP. Diagnosis & management of alpha-gal syndrome: lessons from 2,500 patients. Expert Review of Clinical Immunology. 2020 Jul 9:1-1.

59. Fischer J, Lupberger E, Hebsaker J, Blumenstock G, Aichinger E, Yazdi AS, Reick D, Oehme R, Biedermann T. Prevalence of type I sensitization to alpha‐gal in forest service employees and hunters. Allergy. 2017 Oct72(10):1540-7.


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65. Wickner PG, Commins SP. The first 4 Central American cases of delayed meat allergy with galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose positivity clustered among field biologists in Panama. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2014 Feb 1133(2):AB212.

66. Ohshita N, Ichimaru Y, Gamoh S, Tsuji K, Kishimoto N, Tsutsumi YM, Momota Y. Management of infusion reactions associated with cetuximab treatment: A case report. Molecular and Clinical Oncology. 2017 Jun 16(6):853-5.

67. Stein D, Schuyler A, Commins S, Behm B, Chitnavis M. P-002 YI First Dose IgE-Mediated Allergy to Infliximab Due to Galactose-α-1, 3-Galactose Allergy. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2016 Mar 122:S9-10.

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79. Wilson JM, Nguyen AT, Schuyler AJ, Commins SP, Taylor AM, Platts-Mills TA, McNamara CA. IgE to the mammalian oligosaccharide galactose-α-1, 3-galactose is associated with increased atheroma volume and plaques with unstable characteristics—brief report. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology. 2018 Jul38(7):1665-9.

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81. Tina Merritt, MD, personal communication.

82. Hodgeman N, Horn CL, Paredes A. An Unusual Mimicker of Irritable Bowel Disease: 1855. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2019 Oct 1114(2019 ACG Annual Meeting Abstracts):S1039.

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86. Pointreau Y, Commins SP, Calais G, Watier H, Platts-Mills TA. Fatal infusion reactions to cetuximab: role of immunoglobulin E–mediated anaphylaxis. Journal of clinical oncology: official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 2012 Jan 2030(3):334.

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90. Meat Allergy Tirggered by a Tick Bite with Eri McGintee retrieved from:

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