Ag kids are hard-core, but in a way that’s unfamiliar to those of us more at home fixing dinner than fixing fence. Think of Napoleon Dynamite correctly guessing the defect in a series of glasses of milk (“This tastes like the cow got into an onion patch”).

But the Wall Street Journal has a report on some of the hardest-core ag kids yet: intercollegiate meat-judging competitors.

According to the WSJ, around 40 colleges field teams that do their best work in the chilly air of a meat locker. They eyeball the meat and quickly decipher whether it’s Choice or Prime, perfectly marbled or a little too fatty. The competition sounds more gruesome than an episode of CSI:

In front of a quartet of skinned lambs hung by their hocks, contestants compared carcasses in profile. Then they drew near to gauge the udder fat. At tables of hams, briskets and bacon, they knelt on the floor to see whether cuts were sliced at the correct angle. A sloppily cut roast got looks of consternation from successive waves of competitors.

As you can imagine, the Plains states (Wyoming, South Dakota, Kansas) are well represented. The kids are vying both for the glory and for the attention of scouts, who may recruit them when they graduate for careers in the USDA or with big meatpacking companies.

Or, with so much experience judging meat, they could move on to cutting it, and become like Dario Cecchini, the world’s most famous butcher, who, in a Los Angeles Times profile, notes, “If I come back as a cow, I want to have the best butcher.”

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