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Meat/fish at Costco

Anyone know the quality of meat and fish at Costco?

I usually buy my meat at a pricier health food store, it's totally worth it, but a friend and I were considering going in together on big packages of meat to use and freeze to save money. But only if it is decent stuff. I don't expect as good as at my local Whole Foods like store in terms of hormones, antibiotics, organic, pasture fed, etc....but does anyone know?



( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
They have organic chicken there too. And a bunch of organic products in cans and packages (besides just meat)
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)
We buy all of our meat at Costco. It's affordable and better than decent quality I think. They have organic products too. It's not going to be as awesome as Whole Foods but I've not had any qualms about buying it there.
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
Actually, Whole Foods products are no more or less "awesome" than Costco's organic products.
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
In your opinion. Until there is a real standard regarding the USDA's defination of "organic" I think it's reasonable to expect variation in quality of different suppliers. Frankly I think the meat tastes more "awesome" from Whole Foods than Costco but I've enjoyed both greatly. YMMV.
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
Uh... there is a USDA organic standard. And Whole Foods gets their organic meat/produce from the same organic distributors as Costco. Same farm, same label. It's not like Whole Foods gets some specialty fairy dust sprinkled organic meat and Costco digs theirs out of the gutter.
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
I don't think that's at all what I was implying, but you can go ahead and be dramatic if it makes you feel better. :)

Thanks for sharing the information. That's enough dramatics.
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, what? Could you explain your comment then? Maybe I read it wrong.

You said Until there is a real standard regarding the USDA's defination of "organic" I think it's reasonable to expect variation in quality of different suppliers." I wanted to point out that the USDA DOES have a standard definition of organic. I can go ahead and point you a website outlining the National Organic Program Standards for commercial growers if you're interested.

Then I pointed out that Whole Foods and Costco buy their organic meats (at least in my area) from the same distributors - same farms, same labels.

Of course different suppliers will have differences in their products but to be labled "organic" all suppliers have to comply with the USDA standards.

If you were saying something else I apologize for misunderstanding. Still, good information to have right?
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
i think what wakemeupinside  might be trying to say is that the federal gov'ts guidelines on organic are not always what we'd like them to be. When you have things like this going on, its difficult to have full consumer confidence sometimes. I try to buy local food to suppliment the certified organics when i know the farmers are treating the animals well.
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree wholeheartedly! Once the government got hold of legislating "organic" food everything changed, for sure. *nod*

Still, Whole Foods does not support the local farmer. Not that I don't like Whole Foods! I think they're a great store! But they buy their organic meat from the megafarm distributors just like other stores. Even knowing that, I'd rather buy organic meat from Whole Foods than non-organic from a grocery store. And since Costco carries the same farm/lables organic meat that my local Whole Foods carries, I'll get it there a little cheaper (when I buy it).

I'm lucky to have a local source for organic, grass-fed, no-antibiotic, no-hormone beef. I get a 1/4 cow and put it in my freezer and it's sooo sooo much better than anything I can buy at ANY store!

Edited at 2008-04-17 06:46 pm (UTC)
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
Besides, since I live in Washington Costco is technically "local" right? No?

Apr. 17th, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
Costco actually is supposed to be a great company to work for too. I don't think they're union busters like Whole Foods.
Apr. 18th, 2008 12:47 am (UTC)
True, it's a pretty liberal company (in terms of where they funnel their money via campaign donations etc.) and very good to their employees. My friend works there, and stared out in the retail warehouse at $14/hour, which is a very good living wage, with full benefits after 90 days, and according to her many people have lots of opportunities for promotion. It made me feel a lot better shopping there after hearing that.
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
Costco carries organic meat.

Organic meat from Costco will be no different than organic meat from Whole Foods. Whole Foods buys their meat/produce from megafarm distributors just like grocery stores buy their meat/produce from megafarm distributors. Don't let Whole Foods fool you into thinking they are favorable to local farmers.

On the other hand, I found my 1/4 organic, grass-fed, no-antibiotics, no-hormone, local beef worked out to be a little over $3 a pound (total cost). Very affordable. I have a freezer full of fantastic local organic meat and paid waaaaaay less than I would have paid at Whole Foods OR Costco! If you have a freezer you might look into it!
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
we have a local store called New Seasons, and for the most part their meat does come from local Oregon farmers.
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
That is so lovely! There are some good local sources out there, for sure!

I hate it when people associate the Whole Foods name with Everything Holy And Local And Good in food, when... they're not. I guess it means their marketing works, eh?

They're a giant grocery chain just like Safeway - with good, bad, and indifferent aspects. Don't get me wrong, I love the church of the Whole Foods and all. :P
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
Reading Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivores Dilemma definitely woke me up to the strategies whole foods uses to trick you into thinking you are buying from local farms and that all the animals are treated properly, have a great farm life, etc. It was very interesting. Whole foods is too expensive for me though, and I feel fine with buying my meat at Safeway or wherever else. I think sometimes people forget that Whole Foods is a national chain.
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
*nod* Yes, agree.
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC)
Hmm. So what are some of these tricks and how can people watch out for them, if you don't mind sharing?
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
Well from what I remember he was just saying that the marketing revolving around their meats and dairy products is targeted towards those who want to buy more organic/free range products. So the labels have pictures of farms with rolling hills, cows grazing freely, chickens pecking as they please. They also have little "information signs" in their stores about the farmers they buy from, indicating that they buy from small farms and support local agriculture, which usually isn't the case. You should read the book, it's a good read on our food industry.
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
Ditto about reading the book - it totally changed the way I shop for food, especially meat. And I now cringe whenever I see "Happy Chicken" brand eggs.

One thing I remember is Pollan's tale of Rosie the "free-range" chicken from WF: the chickens are in a crowded indoor facility, and after 2 weeks a door to a _very_ small outdoor run is opened. By this time the chicken brains have set the parameters of their world, so the open door doesn't register and they never go outside. I now buy "pasture-raised" chicken from local farmers. And grass-fed only beef from local farmers. It is a little more expensive (for most meat, but certainly not all!) but I eat less meat and use every scrap.
Apr. 17th, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
I have to say that the pastured chicken I have access to is almost twice as expensive as my local, grass-fed, organic, no-antibiotic, no-hormone beef. MADNESS! In what universe is chicken more expensive than beef?

I was going to buy 20 chickens and put them in my deep freeze, but DANG! At almost $20 a bird I can't afford it! Yes to the eat less meat and use every scrap, for sure!
Apr. 17th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
it really depends on country (and even the part of some countries), and it can go a couple ways: meat x is popular and everybody raises it = low prices on meat x, higher prices on other meats or meat x is popular and there is more demand than supply = higher prices on meat x, lower prices on other meats.

and yes, truly free range chickens do run more -- they take more work than free range cattle by a huge factor! cattle (i'm going by the free-range ones by my house) are out in the fields chomping grass and drinking from streams. they're born out in the fields, usually when you're not looking. you check on them and give them supplemental hay and that's about it, birth til you take them to be butchered. a calf might stumble in a ditch and need to be rescued, and very rarely (VERY in free range healthy breeds) a cow might have problems with a birth. but they're pretty much wild. they get rotated thru different (huge) sections of field, and some of the fields each year go to hay, so the only cost for their feed most years is having it cut and baled. then butchering, hanging, and packaging is a cost. but per pound the price isn't high - i think we pay about 3.99 hanging weight for a quarter beef or 2.99/lb for ground beef that's free range, grass fed, hormone and anti-biotic free.

chickens: you put them out in the morning, feed them, provide protection from predators, bring them in every night. special care for chicks since they're vulnerable from adults as well as predators. gather the eggs every day (if you dont have a rooster, none of those eggs will be fertilized, so they'd just sit there and rot. if you do have a rooster, you still need to control how many you chickens you have. if you feed organic feed the prices can be significantly higher than conventional feed. and after all that, the chickens aren't that big, so cost per pound of meat is HIGH, even direct. some modern breeds have been bred to grow fast and have more white meat. they tend to have more problems and some farmers prefer old, more reliable breeds, but they take longer to reach maturity, so the cost to the farmer is higher in feed and time.

and that right there is why a chicken dinner 50+ years ago was a big deal, right up there with a steak dinner. it was a treat.

factory farming for decades pushed prices artificially low, so we get sticker shock now at fair prices for healthy raised meats because all we've known is cheap abundant factory meat, i think.
Apr. 18th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
And in our area the closest source for organic hay is in Oregon. So if you're an organic dairy, and you don't pasture your cattle, you have to have the hay trucked all the way from Oregon. Holy fuel costs, Batman! It's madness. Madness!

But yeah, our area is much more a dairy/cattle area than a chicken area. We do have a couple megafarms locally but only two farms that sell pastured chicken in a 20 mile radius. I suppose if I found a place further south where I could get good chicken cheaper it would be worth the drive. As it is I don't eat much meat and I make the most of what I do eat.
Apr. 17th, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
Isn't it crazy? And the cost of chicken feed is going up (along with every other corn-related thing on the planet.) On a good day I can pay $8-$11 for a whole chicken, on a bad day it is $15-$20. I could get it cheaper if I bought local chicken that isn't pasture-raised, but I try not to do that very often.

I do get a whole bunch of meals (for two) out of one chicken though: I start with roast chicken one night, use most of the remaining meat for stew, tetrazzini or chicken and dumplings (with leftovers for another meal, at least), then make soup with the last scraps of meat and the carcass. It definitely makes me think about using the meat as an accent, rather than a main ingredient!
Apr. 18th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)
If you don't have Pollan's book handy, there is an online Slate article that touches on a little bit. And while I don't consider Pollan to be lord and keeper of organic or sustainable eating, he is one hell of an investigative journalist, which made his written exchanges with the CEO of Whole Foods John Mackay all the more eyebrow-raising. (Not to mention Mackay was kind of disingenuous in his actions to acquire his major competitor Wild Oats and is all around a little creepy in my estimation.)
Apr. 17th, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
The previous poster is local, I didn't mention the name of the store, New Seasons, as I figured not many would recognize it. New Seasons is where I usually buy my meat, and try to buy local when I can. It is pricey to do, but worth it, but I was interested in finding out more for the purpose buying larger amounts.

I wish I had a deep freeze so I could do a part of a cow.
Apr. 17th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
I love New Seasons. :) Now if they would just hire me to work there! I don't eat meat but they have so many awesome things and everyone who works there is just really nice. I've never been to a grocery store before where everyone was awesome and they acted like they loved their job.
Apr. 18th, 2008 05:44 am (UTC)
ahhh - moving away from PDX - I may miss the new season's the most.

Apr. 17th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
We only eat fish. I buy just about all our fish there. In the frozen section. The mahi mahi and talapia are wild and pretty tasty.
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
we've found Costco's Salmon to be absolutely the best we've found, it freezes well. We don't buy our meat (red or otherwise) there not because its poor quality. but rather because we eat very little red meat so its not really worth it to sit in the freezer for months and months and buy our chicken at an Amish market near by. But we get all of our fish from there and its the best around. We do get flank steak there for our 4th of July BBQ and its always been great.
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
I don't buy meat there, but mostly because I am the only one eating it and it would sit around forever in large amounts. That and I found 2 CT farms with better meat(local farm markets).

I DO buy majority of my fish there(well Sam's club but similar). The frozen tilapia is good, and sometime I will splurge on the shrimp or mahi-mahi as well.

I was buying the Tyson chicken breasts, but found the Trader Joes' brand was about better $$ and smaller bag for 2 people.
Apr. 17th, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC)
My mom swears that Costco meat is better than supermarket meat. I eat red meat & pork infrequently enough that I rarely notice a difference.
Apr. 17th, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC)
Costco meat is awesome, and they have a lot of organic choices available.
Apr. 18th, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)
I'm not 100% sure, but my husband works for a fish company and he says they sell to ALL stores, natural and regular grocery chains alike. I'd assume it's all the same fish for the most part.
Apr. 18th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
Another option would be to go to a natural meat butcher and buy a whole or half animal to split. This would be inexpensive and help to ensure quality. If you're near a farming area you could also try to buy direct from them. When I ate meat I would split an animal from a farm with one of my friends and take it to a local butcher.
Apr. 18th, 2008 03:53 am (UTC)
Costco has pretty good meat in my experience. I've only bought it a few times, but is almost always been just a hair shy of being as good as the organic, free-range grass-fed meat that my family buys twice a year (we purchase sides of beef from a local place). The salmon is good too, but I didn't like the frozen fish. I don't eat pork, and haven't tried the chicken
Apr. 18th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
I only get our food from costco/bjs. I love how they are going organic
Dec. 30th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
costco ground beef; trader joe's ground beef
Does anyone know if Costco's regular ground beef was raised on hormones/antibiotics? I use Trader Joe's ground beef for my dogs. If Costco has as good quality and better price, I'll buy it from them. I can't verify, but I was told Trader Joe's doesn't get hormone & antibiotic fed beef. Anyone know?

May. 1st, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
Meat Costco
You may like Costco meat but have you checked into why it is so cheap? could it come from a factory farm? You should find out before you buy it......factory farming is cruel and inhumane to animals, not to mention bad for the environment.
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