Wagyu is a type of beef that is bred from a cattle native to Japan.
The word means "Japanese beef" with "wa" meaning Japanese and "gyu" meaning beef.
What is wagyu beef?
Wagyu is a unique beef that is tender and has a buttery taste, according to BBC Good Food.
It is called Kobe when the cow is born, raised and slaughtered in Tajima region.
And the cattle is fed for 600 days after weaning – more than double the time for other breeds.
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It also doesn't need to be hung and marbling – the process of creating streaks of fat in the meat – is a slower process in these breeds.
To grow Wagyu, you need a stress-free environment so they burn less fat and achieve top marbling.
What is wagyu beef made from?
Modern Wagyu cattle are the result of crossing of the native cattle in Japan with imported breeds, according to Wagyu.org.
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Crossing began in 1868 after the Meiji restoration in that year when the government wanted to introduce Western food habits and culture.
Brown Swiss, Devon, Shorthorn, Simmental, Ayrshire, and Korean cattle were imported during this period.
The infusions of these British, European and Asian breeds were closed to outside genetic infusions in 1910.
The variation of the Wagyu breed is greater than across British and European breeds. The three major black strains – Tajiri or Tajima, Fujiyoshi (Shimane) and Kedaka (Tottori) evolved due to regional geographic isolation in Japan.
In Japan there are four breeds that are considered Wagyu and those are the Japanese Black (the predominant Wagyu exported to the U.S), Japanese Brown (In the U.S. referred to as Red Wagyu), Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn.
Is wagyu beef healthy?
Marbling in Wagyu is full of omega-3 and omega-6 and has an improved ratio of monounsaturated fats compared with regular beef.
Fatty acids such as these are believed to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer's and other conditions, according to wagyushop.com.
The richly marbled beef also contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is believed to have health benefits such as lowered risk of disease and diabetes.
Why is wagyu beef expensive?
It's expensive because to quality for the Wagyu mark, the cattle have to be reared and fed according to strict guidelines.
This includes ensuring breeding cattle and pregnant cows are grazed on pasture while calves are fed in a specific way, with special feed, to ensure that the meat has a lot of marbling.
Wagyu calves are given a milk replacer by hand and they get jackets to shelter them from the cold weather.
They also stat on the farm until they are seven months old and then send to auction.
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They're also given names instead of just a number and are kept on a diet of rice straws, whole crop silage and concentrate and are allowed to grow up to 700kg, which normally takes three years.
Wagyu can sell for as high as $200 per pound. American Wagyu beef costs around $10-$10 per pound.
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