Deciding your College Major

If you ever find yourself thinking “Gee, I wonder if I could get a college degree in Meat Science”, I can tell you, unequivocally, that the answer is; I have no idea because I don’t know what “unequivocally” means. However, it is certainly an option to consider, and may be an excellent way to waste your parent’s money while still getting free meat.

To be honest, I wouldn’t even know about Meat Science as a potential educational career path if it weren’t for a recent message I received from a coworker. I work for a local community college on a part-time basis as an instructor. Every now and again, through the college’s e-mail system, we get messages from other instructors asking for favors. Our college has multiple campuses spread across various geographic locations throughout Southern Arizona (State Motto: What’s Water?). So periodically someone will send a message to everyone on the system (to potentially include Barry Manilow) asking if they are coming or going to one of the other campuses. Normally, these can be safely ignored. Recently, though, I received a message that easily fits into the “Most Unique Request I Have Ever Heard” category. I quote directly from the message. I am not making any of this up.

“Is anyone going to (Famous southeastern Arizona old town)? I have some frozen animal reproductive tracts for my Artificial Insemination class that I need to get. They are located at the University of Arizona Meat Science Department.”

Aside from the obvious fact that “Frozen Reproductive Tracts” would be a good name for a rock band, I couldn’t help but think to myself “The UofA has a Meat Science Department?” I mean, what do they study there? Personally, I never realized that meat was a science. I always thought it was something you just cooked up and ate. Obviously this is just more evidence that my brain is turning into camel spit.

So in an effort to educate myself, I decided to do a little more research on this. I’m using the term “research” in the sense of “Do a Google search and pick the first link that shows up.” I mean, if I’m going to make fun of a Meat Science major, I probably should know at least a little bit about what a Meat Science major studies. I expected to find a lot of small time, non-accredited schools specifically dedicated to this. Not only was I wrong on this, I was way wrong.

Not only are there fully accredited colleges such as the University of Arizona and Texas A&M University that have Meat Science departments, there’s an entire association devoted to it. They call themselves – again I make this up not – the American Meat Science Association. And you know what they talk about there? Right! how to cook up Americans.

No, seriously, they discuss the Meat Sciences. The Texas A&M University (TAMU) has an entire web site for their Meat Science department, which lists some interesting things, most noteably technical topics such as Warner-Bratzler Shear Force Measurement , Carcass Pathogen Interventions, and even White Film on Jerky Products (I do not even want to know what this is). And then there’s the world famous TAMU course called Beef 101. What it all comes down to, though, is that this school has an entire department dedicated to what is basically Butcher School.

Upon further reading, I discovered that there is more to this Meat Science thing than meets (ha ha!) the eye. Among other things, they discuss Meat Judging. TAMU has an entire program dedicated to this. And they are so thankful to the Meat Judging Program Donors that they even made engraved plaques for them. I suppose I should mention at this point that Meat Judges would also be a good name for a rock band. I should also point out that there are other superfluous, non-essential things on the TAMU Meat Science web site. For instance, there is as an article on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (not a rock band). But aside from the name that stuff isn’t funny so it’s not really worth mentioning.

A&M Student 1: So what’s your major?

A&M Student 2: I’m studying Meat Science, with a minor in Meat Judging.

A&M Student 1: So, you’re going to be a butcher?

A&M Student 2: That’s Meat Scientist.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against butchers. If it weren’t for butchers, I’d have to hunt my own beef for my bacon cheeseburgers. I love butchers. If you are a butcher (Meat Scientist), please understand that I have the utmost respect for you and your industry. Especially since there’s a very good likelihood that you know how to use sharp cutting instruments that can carve me up into Fillet Mignon.