Reason being that for one, Costco was one of the first grocers to start replacing items with Organic alternatives, and in general, they usually demands higher quality goods than other grocers. For example, compare the ingredient list for Delimex taquitos from Costco to your supermarket and it's basically half the size... or Campbell's "Simply" Chicken Noodle soup to what's sold at the grocer - again about half the ingredients. Even those $5 chickens Costco sells are antibiotic/hormone/steroid-free humane-certified Foster-Farms chickens.
Then there's employee treatment. Costco has a long history of being one of the better employers in the country. They pay their employees well, pay for people to attend college, don't require a lot of interaction with irate customers thanks to their no deadline any reason return policy and generally promote internally rather than hiring outsiders to leadership roles.
Compare that to the average chicken farmer who has to buy all of their own equipment that the big companies are constantly requiring them to update at their own expense, raise chickens they don't own like a horrific daycare center at very low return, all while being exposed to chemicals/drugs they're being forced to use and it's kind of a nightmare.
Costco cares about their brand image, their customers and their employees... I expect this will end up being a good thing.
As someone who grew up in the poultry pathology industry, there are three important metrics for commercial chicken meat production: (1) mortality rate (how many chickens die), (2) feed conversion ratio (how efficiently incoming feed is turned into usable meat), & (3) time to slaughter.
Everything else (price, environment impact) is a consequence of those figures or optimizations made to target them.
Perdue, long before it was trendy (~2002) decided for market and moral reasons they were going to reorganize their operations, and those of their suppliers, to apply pre-antibiotic husbandry best practices and limit antibiotic use.
It didn't save them money. Pre-emptive dosing with antibiotics is done precisely because it makes money (by decreasing loss / all cause mortality) -- if it didn't, no one would do it in the first place.
They didn't have to do this. Hell, most people didn't even care about antibiotics in animal production then.
But they did it because they thought there would be a market for it, because they thought it was possible, and because they thought it was the right thing to do.
Costco may be an ethical company, and they may be doing this for the right reasons, but they're following.
I'd rather reward someone who chose to lead in making the world a better place.
PS: There are other ecological reasons to prefer chicken if you're eating terrestrial meat, but I didn't want to ramble on. Suffice to say, the feed conversion ratio on chicken is incredible.
1. Eating beef is far more ethical than eating chicken.
1a) There's some (non-zero) probability that meat cows have net positive lives, while I don't think anybody I respect ever suggested that the current conditions of broiler chickens are potentially positive.
1b) Cows are way over 100x heavier than chickens, which means you need 2+ orders of magnitude more suffering/dead chickens to supply the same amount of calories from eating chickens as eating (potentially even net positive) cows.
1c) The environmental harms of different meat animals is far smaller than either the direct ethical costs or the financial costs. You can look into carbon offsetting for example.
2.You might think that you have no moral imperative to create net positive lives, only to avoid really bad cases of animal abuse. I assure you that really bad cases of animal abuse do in fact happen.
3. You might believe that chickens are not sentient and do not have morally relevant experiences. This is a complicated topic but I would argue that even if you only have a 10% chance of chickens having morally relevant experiences (and 90+% that they don't is far from justified given the state of current evidence), not eating chicken is still the right thing to do under most reasonable models of uncertainty.
4) You may believe that sentience is not a morally relevant criteria, and that there's a form of Human Exceptionalism where morality is defined to be about humans. Perhaps you only care about the environment for its effect on humans. If this is the case, I will be shocked if personal diet for ecology reasons is "the most ethical thing you can do" to preserve the future of humanity.
In general, while I applaud attempts to do moral reasoning in taboo tradeoffs, I find reasoning that ignores the highest number of beings suspect. (I feel the same way when economists debate the cost-effectiveness of immigration while entirely skipping the impact on immigrants).
I don't go on HN often, so apologies if I don't respond to comments too quickly. Good luck with thinking this through clearly! :)
Would it impact your moral calculus if we artificially retarded broiler chicken's intelligence?
1c) To me, the carbon and land use impacts dominate the direct ethical costs. With a ~1:4 carbon footprint ratio of chicken:beef, and taking into account my (1ab) opinion, that's enough to offset the individual mind count concern.
2) I value animal life conditions in a net utilitarian manner. Providing humans sustenance and pleasure in the form of edible protein is weighed against animal conditions.
3) What are the consequences of making an incorrect decision that cause you to weigh the 10% so heavily?
4) Including the qualifying "if you eat meat" phrase in my quote and the context of the comment thread (organic, chemical / drug use), I think my statement is pretty clear. To expand, "If you eat meat, the most ethical thing you can do is support a chicken producer who attempted to eliminate mass-dosing with antibiotics from their entire production chain."
You'd probably be interested in Peter Singer (see updated copies of Animal Liberation) and the debate between absolute, preference, and hedonistic varieties of utilitarianism.
I've surreptitiously built a HN identity for years so that I could finally cash in on that sweet poultry guerilla marketing cash.
I haven't had too much experience with Wikipedia, but I absolutely believe your story. Their hierarchy is... interesting.
Pepperidge Farm remembers.
That's a lot easier to do when you only carry a fraction of the UPCs that say, Walmart does.
As of right now my local supermarket (subsidiary of Kroger) has the following:
Cheerios 12 oz
Cheerios 18 oz family size
Cheerios 20 oz giant size
It's way beyond stupid. This idiocy is the fault of both the manufacturers and retailers.
Just the same bag as the inside of that cheerios box in 3oz increments with a plain label.
edit: was pointed to this Reuters article which seems like a reasonable starting point.
- Fewer hormones for growth
- Fewer antibiotics (diseases spread rapidly in confined spaces)
- Higher quality meat (Chicken gets more exercise and movement, as well as increased quality of feed)
- Higher nutritional value (increased exercise and sunlight, potentially)
In terms of calories though, it's probably a wash, and more inefficient from calories/money.
>Chicken gets more exercise and movement
Having raised chickens for meat on a small scale (30-40 at a time), I can tell you that chickens used for meat ("Broiler" chickens) are selectively bred to grow as big as possible as quickly as possible. There is no need for growth hormones, they grow so quickly that their bone structure cannot keep up, to the point that they are barely able to walk 8-12 weeks from hatching. If they are not slaughtered on time, they die from heart failure.
Wow, you weren't kidding.  I am not surprised that chickens have been bred to grow fast, but I've never heard of an animal that implodes because it grows so fast.
At this point, they're not far away from muscle growing machines with just enough brain attached to partially handle themselves.
The FDA bans hormones in all poultry production, companies advertising it are trying to fool you into thinking the opposite is possible, it isn't.
>- Fewer antibiotics
Zero antibiotics is very common among producers
It's been illegal to give chickens growth hormones for a long time. Most major chicken brands (Tyson and Purdue, who are #1 and 2 in terms of production) do not give chickens antibiotics, unless the flock gets sick. In that case, the flock is treated and then sold as a different product- usually either as pet food or an off brand.
I don't know why we use hormones and antibiotics for pork and beef but not chicken.
This is a urban legend. Not sure if it was true at any point, but it is not the case.
Chickens were selectively bred to grow fast enough as it is, to the point that some breeds have a percentage of offspring lost. Try to make them grow any faster and more will die.
> - Higher quality meat (Chicken gets more exercise and movement, as well as increased quality of feed)
At least for cows (and most game), you don't want them to exercise too much or the meat won't be as tender. Is it different for chickens?
If you go to other beef obsessed countries in the world in South America, Europe and especially Asia, a certain degree of chew is considered desirable. Take Picanha from Brazil, Bistecca alla Fiorentina from Florence of Kalbi Short Ribs from Korea.
There tends to be a flavour/tenderness tradeoff. So you'll tend to get more flavour from more used muscles. (eg chicken breast v thigh)
That said, the average battery hen could do a hell of a lot more exercise and still not be tough.
I know I'm not winning any brownie points here, but I think it's important to be realistic in your moral assessments.
> it's a much better solution than paying some company to call you a good person.
If you can afford to and understand the terrible conditions of battery chicken, but wish to still eat meat, then one choice is morally better. It's unrealistic to think otherwise. Signaling intention with your purchase decisions is real. Not eating meat is of course the better solution, but is again an unrealistic expectation to have for many people.
You seem unable to tolerate incremental improvement. Why is that?
That's why organic isn't always the most ideal.
> On an organic farm, once that animal receives antibiotics, she is no longer considered an organic animal. Rather than rejoining her organic herd, she will join a traditional herd of cows that may have received antibiotics during their lives.
The more popular the organic religious dietary code becomes, the least viable traditional herds are.
In Europe it’s different - https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/eu-policy/eu-rules-...
“When the animals are ill, chemically synthesised allopathic veterinary medicinal products including antibiotics may be used where necessary and under strict conditions. This is only allowed when the use of phytotherapeutic, homeopathic and other products is inappropriate.”
If your chicken don't get sick because they have free roaming space and don't peck each other and so on you don't need antibiotics.
Chickens are assholes no matter the square footage.
i won't spoil the punchline (it's not obvious from first blush).
otherwise you can search for “ODI optical distortion business case” to find sites that have the setup and various attempts at analyzing/answering the case.
You may be interested in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feed_conversion_ratio
If plant diet was optimizing for caloric intake and health advantages, most human societies would have been vegan. But no human society throughout human existence and pre-human existence were vegan because plant diet isn't optimal.
It's also why vegans tend to be lethargic, lose bone mass, teeth rot, joint pains, have trouble concentrating, etc. It's why vegans have to take tons of supplements to even stay alive and while doing so do long term damage to their bodies.
Balanced diet folks. It's something humans have been designed to eat since human existence. Not only does your body need it, it also helps with your gut biodiversity which helps prevent anxiety, depression, etc.
Caveat: I'm a huge meat eater. Love the stuff. Can't stop won't stop.
BUUUTTTT the natural fallacy has to die. Just because we did something for the last N millennia doesn't make it worthy of continuation.
Just in case. Many people think that a fallacy existing is proof of the contrary position, or at least they speak/argue/type as if that is the case.
The corollary of course is that despite the apparent fallacious reasoning you could be right.
And my point wasn't that we should do something just because it's been done before. My point is that if veganism was "natural and optimal", then why hasn't any human society in history adopted it? Because humans cannot survive on a vegan diet without supplements.
In other words, my point is that if the vegan assertion that "veganism is the optimal natural human diet" ( aka what humans were meant to eat ), why has no human society ever adopted it and why can't humans survive on a vegan diet in nature.
I don't know if that's true. We may not have been able to supply the amount of vegetation required to keep a human being upright and functional a millennia ago, but now that we live in the age of abundance, with food diversity that's unprecedented that may not be an issue at all. We can artificially create a complete diet of strictly plant matter with intelligent choices.
That's very hard to distinguish from supplements. Some nutrients are hard to find in useful quantities in plants, so you need a ton of them. The most practical approach is to extract and put them in a pill. Supplements. Nothing wrong with it.
I think when somebody asserts x is the best diet because x is what we have been doing for thousands of years, x most often includes eating meat. There is a whole diet based around this idea called the Paleo diet. It may very well be the most popular diet of the last 5 years.
The only time I can recall it being asserted that veganism was the historic human diet, it was by a total quack YouTube personality. Veganism was also tangential to this claim; the claim was that the diet should be 100% figs.
This is simply not true and one of the many lies anti-vegan activists tell.
I've never had a cavity in my life. I'm not super old yet, but I don't think I have any joint issues beyond what comes with being nearly 50.
The efficacy of supplements isn't even established as reliable in many cases.
Porpiosly's comments on this seem quite extreme. I suggest others reading this do their own research or consult with their personal physicians before altering their diet in a significant way.
Can you show me one vegan that doesn't take supplements?
They don't. All you need to supplement is B12, and that's one small pill a day to take.
If you're interested in the background, find some information e.g. here: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/vitamin-b12/
It's much harder to have a balanced diet eating only plants. You can't easily compete against organisms that only eat plants, and have been collecting all the nutrients, for their entire existence, for you.
Humans are adapted to eat from both plants and animal sources. Take away one source, and you have to adapt.
I'm confused as to what you mean here. Do you mean the energy required to produce plant foods is higher than the energy required to produce animal foods? If so, this seems self-evidently false: all edible calories start out as plant calories, and we can either eat the plants or have animals eat the plants (wasting a bunch of the input energy along the way) and then eat the animals. Or do you mean the effort to prepare the plant foods is higher? If so... maybe? But that'll inherently be subjective and depend on what people want to eat. Certainly, meat-free prepared foods are not difficult to find, at least in the US.
> But no human society throughout human existence and pre-human existence were vegan because plant diet isn't optimal... Balanced diet folks. It's something humans have been designed to eat since human existence.
I don't think many vegans argue that humans were designed to eat only plants (many would dispute that humans were designed at all), but looking at historical societies isn't that useful; advances in agricultural technology have made eating a healthy vegan diet more feasible than it used to be, so the fact that it wasn't practical to do 100 years ago or 1000 years ago or whatever isn't very interesting. In the here and now, it is possible, and there's plenty of peer-reviewed research suggesting that the optimal amount of red meat, in particular, to consume, is none (it's carcinogenic), that animal fat of any kind isn't great either, and that people who reduce or eliminate consumption of these foods while still maintaining adequate caloric and nutrient intake have reduced all-cause mortality.
In any event, many vegans would also argue that even if it wasn't possible to eat vegan historically, the fact that it is now means that we should, for reasons of ethics/animal welfare, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.
> It's also why vegans tend to be lethargic, lose bone mass, teeth rot, joint pains, have trouble concentrating, etc.
> It's why vegans have to take tons of supplements to even stay alive and while doing so do long term damage to their bodies.
The only nutrient that only occurs naturally in animal sources is B12. It's true that vegans generally need to get their B12 either from supplements or fortified foods, but the technology for that exists, so there's no real downside here.
Other than that, many vegans choose to get other nutrients from supplements or fortified foods because it's easier than planning a diet that includes all of them naturally. Omnivores do this too, though; we just don't think about it, because that diet is standard enough that it makes sense from a public health perspective to incorporate nutrient supplementation directly into the regular food supply so people don't have to think about it. That's why there's iodine in table salt, or vitamin D in milk. If everyone were vegan, we would do the same for nutrients that require special attention in vegan diets, but that says nothing inherent about veganism.
And I have no idea what that "long term damage" claim is about. There's nothing inherently dangerous about getting a nutrient in a capsule instead of in a steak.
Your link also suggests that having healthy gut flora is important (true), but doesn't support the case that you need to eat animals to achieve it, at least as far as I can tell.
I'm no expert but I believe there may actually be some limited basis to that claim: ruminants can eat things we can't (grass) and there are areas where it's more ecological to grow grass and let ruminants eat it than try to grow things that we could process. You also get the benefit of better topsoil with the help of the animal dung.
But I think the (huge) majority of the meat we eat is fed grain, where we're obviously wasting energy.
I'm curious about this one - what about things like corn and soybean? Those would seem pretty readily accessible in terms of pure caloric content.
If that is so, why are all these people healing and getting healthier on an all-meat diet? http://meatheals.com
Sure, if you could live eating chicken feed then it would certainly be cheaper to eat that instead of chicken for caloric intake. But to optimize for dollar nutritional value in food humans actually eat, it's pretty hard to beat the $5 chicken.
As for the present time, I agree that the retail price of meat and the nutrients offered makes it a pretty good deal.
It's $5-6 bucks, seasoned, cooked, in a plastic container. You know there's no way that's a fair price, right?
If you look at most of the grocery store rotisserie chickens, they're roughly 2 pounds - 3 pounds at Costco, which is one of their selling points. At $5, you're paying $1.67-2.50/pound for the bird, a few cents worth of seasoning and oil, a plastic shell, labor and depreciation on the rotisserie equipment. The store is probably not paying even $1/pound for those small birds.
As for them being ones that the store was selling that were past their date, go look at whole chickens in the store some time. If you find any 2 pound birds I'd be very surprised - you're more likely going to see a minimum of 3.5 pounds, at least in the US. The store also wouldn't be cooking random-weight birds because it's going to be much harder to control for even cooking - you can't just throw a 4 pound bird that's approaching its sell by date into the oven with your 2 pound birds, it'll be raw inside when you pull the rest of the birds out.
They are high margin, but low volume. A fifty cent chicken, with a few cents worth of spices (mostly salt) and like three minutes of labor will sell for $5. Not including the additional revenue from sides and rolls.
If you don't mind watching a YouTube video, this guy does a good job summing up the problems some have had:
That phrase doesn't mean what you think it means. If you can declare bankruptcy, you can't be an indentured servant.
Everything tastes 'chemical' :)
Snarky comment aside, I agree. Chicken in the US tastes quite bland, generally. At least compared to the Brazilian counterparts.
Vegetables are ok. Most berries are delicious. But bananas taste like cardboard. Some are less bad than others, but still. They do "look" perfect; I'd rather have an ugly, but tasty, banana. Mangos are crap. Most oranges taste like they have already been packaged in a box (there are some good ones though).
You might be referring to the "gamy" part of it. That's valid for super wild chickens, but a little walk only makes them a lot better. There's no comparison in taste between a 50 day old chicken raised in mass-produced conditions and a 6-7 month one that roams in someone's backyard.
If you eat more natural white meat, it’s drier because there is less fat and no added fluid.
They don't even hide the fact that they do it; most of them print it right on the packaging.
I quit buying supermarket chicken a long time ago because the quality is very poor. I trim the excess fat off chicken, and supermarket stuff has so much waste it was shocking.
For me, it has helped my mental well being, to not (even subconsciously) have to think about the life of the being whose flesh I've been eating.
Slightly different? I like vegetables and tofu as much as they next person, but 'textured protein' meat alternatives taste nothing like the real thing.
I prefer just to spend a little more on a non-battery chicken.
Shocked -- because it was surprisingly superior?
I think you mean not everyone needs to eat meat every day... the way you phrase it makes it sound like an argument for lowering the minimum wage.
However, is it really less ethical to raise animals (in humane circumstances, open pasture, etc) and butcher them quickly than to either:
a. Cause them to never exist and never experience life at all (presupposes that one places higher value on existence than non-existence, which is philosophically debatable of course)
b. Cause them to die a natural death at the hands of either predators that will mangle and mutilate them, or to disease which is a slow and terrible way to go?
I've never seen such cruelty as is found in nature. Even just seeing what the neighborhood cats do to the birds makes my stomach turn. I think if I were mangled and blinded, I'd be begging for somebody to kill me quickly.