Meat Judging Contest

When most students think about Halloween, they imagine spooky movies, candy, dressing up, and partying. While those are all fun and awesome parts of Halloween night, I did something a little different on the night of the 31st this year. I went to the Buckeye Classic Meat Judging Contest with a couple of my friends. The Meat Science club at Ohio State puts this contest on annually, and it’s meant for students who have never judged meat before to come try it out. I had heard of meat judging before, but I had always had more experience with the live side of the animal industry as I have been an active participant in livestock judging, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

While seeing animal carcasses may sound spooky to some, it actually wasn’t that bad. There’s no blood or smell, and it’s much cleaner than a barn. Before we entered the cooler, the Meat Science club president gave a presentation on what to expect. It was extremely helpful since I had no idea what I was doing!


Me and My Team with the Beef Carcasses


The contest structure is fairly simple. There are five classes, and there are four products in each class. The classes we judged were whole beef carcasses, whole pork carcasses, whole lamb carcasses, beef loins, and fresh hams. The products are numbered, and the goal is to rank each product from best to worst. For example, if I thought ham number 1 was the best, I would rank it first and then follow it up with my second place and so on. There’s a point scoring system based on how well you placed each class, and the winner is the one who placed the classes the best. The meat is judged based on quality, leanness, and amount of consumable product. For example, in beef, intramuscular fat or marbling is considered good, but too much excess fat on the outside of the steak is considered waste product.

In conclusion, I tied for second as an individual, just missing first by 2 points! Not too bad for my first meats contest. I’ve raised livestock, and it was really neat to see the end product while also seeing where food like steaks, hams, and pork chops actually come from. There’s definitely a disconnect between consumers and food production. Nobody likes to think that their bacon was once a pig that had to die so that they could enjoy it. We may not want to think about it, but I believe it’s important that we all understand the hard work and sacrifices it takes to produce food. I feel that even livestock producers are often disconnected. They raise the animals, but they often never see what happens after they send their animals to market. Whether or not you agree with eating meat, I think we can all agree that people have the right to know where their food comes from and verify that it is safe, nutritious, delicious, and humanely raised. I’d recommend to anyone to go to the meat science lab at least once. It’s a great experience whether you’ve grown up raising animals for food your whole life as I had or if you’ve never set foot on a farm.

Putting God First – What Faith Means to Me

Faith. Faith has always been a part of my life, but its place of importance has greatly varied throughout. I grew up going to church all my life, and I can remember all the Sunday school teachers telling me to ‘put God first’. I never really knew what that meant until I started coming to college.

There was a person (a pastor) I used to know that seemed to think putting God first meant going to church for every single service: Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I was a busy person at the time. I was active in 4-H and my academics, so it was hard to go to church three times a week every week. This person also believed that if you went to a secular college (e.g. Ohio State) that you couldn’t really be following God because putting God first meant going into the ministry or Bible college after high school. This hurt because I knew I wanted to study Animal Science and become a veterinarian, and Bible colleges don’t offer programs like those. It didn’t seem right that I would have to choose between religion and my passion for animals. My family stopped going to that church, and although I didn’t really believe the things that guy said, it put a damper on my faith. I kept putting my personal relationship with Him to the side.

During my senior year in high school, a major event that completely shook my mental and emotional world occurred. (It would take too long to explain now). It hurt like hell, and I felt like I would never recover. My parents and friends were there to support me, but I only got through it because I turned to God. Through Him, I found a strength inside myself I forgot I had. I finally found a great support group of real friends that shared my faith and supported me, and that seedling of a faith finally got the nourishment it needed. That’s when I realized that I really wanted to walk this Christian walk every day of my life. It was also when I discovered what it truly means to put God first.

Putting God first means trusting Him in all things and living your life in a way that honors him. It’s not about where you go to college, what you do for a living, or how many times you go to church. It’s about loving and serving others and giving God the glory for all the blessings in your life. That’s the life I want to live. One that honors God and puts him first. God can’t be put in one little box. He belongs in every aspect of life, the big and small. Having faith in something bigger than myself gives my life meaning and purpose. I was put here for a reason, and I am going to work hard everyday to live out the plan God has for me. As a new friend of mine recently said to me “You are a child of God. Everything in your life is spiritual.” I can live out my faith being a vet or a missionary. A Bible scholar or a farmer. I can serve God being a brain surgeon, a nutritionist, a counselor, an ag teacher, or a youth leader. I’m living out my faith right here, right now, being an Animal Science student at THE Ohio State University. I’m not perfect, and I don’t have it all figured out. I’m just trying to do the right thing one step at a time.