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Yeah I personally stopped buy chicken years ago for mostly ethical reasons but I think Costco getting into the chicken game will probably be a net positive.

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.

If you eat meat, the most ethical thing you can do is eat Perdue chicken (assuming you're not going sustainable aquaculture seafood). Not organic, just regular. Because long before everyone else, they decided to do what they could to weed antibiotics out of their entire production chain.


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.

Just small correction it’s Perdue. I know common error here.

Fixed! Thanks for pointing it out.

If you eat meat and aren't willing to stop, you should eat cows instead of chickens.

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. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/opinion/nicholas-kristof-...

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! :)

1ab) Based on my experiences, I am prepared to discount the mental suffering of broiler chickens. I would not do the same for cows (or pigs). This is based on my beliefs about their intelligence, coupled with their lifespans.

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.

Is this the Perdue that just recalled chicken for having wood in it?


ColanR 4 months ago [flagged]

This feels a lot like an ad for Perdue (apologies if it isn't).

You've got me.

I've surreptitiously built a HN identity for years so that I could finally cash in on that sweet poultry guerilla marketing cash.

I got a similar hit on Wikipedia when I tried to start the article on a company, which happens to be a YC alum. I was just comparing VPS providers, I knew this company was in the space because of HN, and noted the hole in Wikipedia, so I started the article as a way to fill in my own knowledge. Ho. Lee. Sheeeit. There were some admins looking to grind serious axes about "commercial influence". Yet I was behaving more like Consumer Reports. Job got done, but wow.

I tried to limit the snark, because parent's not wrong. There's a ridiculous amount of astroturfing out there.

I haven't had too much experience with Wikipedia, but I absolutely believe your story. Their hierarchy is... interesting.

Do you remember when the world wasn't consumed with ads?

Pepperidge Farm remembers.

Costco does all these pro-consumer, pro-sustainability, and pro labor things while still undercutting everyone else on price. And they still make money hand over fist. It proves that every other company mistreating their livestock, filling their preserved goods with god-knows-what, or underpaying their staff is doing it out of pure profit motive rather than out of necessity to remain competitive.

Well, maybe -- Costco benefits from economies of scale and negotiation that don't exist for those smaller vendors. It doesn't cost everyone the same price to produce the same product.

Costco earns almost all of their profit from the membership fees and tries to keep all the product sales at break even pricing. Which makes their future precarious as the average member age is 50+, explaining the missing technology focus compared to say WalMart Labs or Amazon. They send Costco employees out to the farms to inspect every stage of the meat process, from raising the animals to the slaughter and packaging to ensure the quality. Disclosure: former IT employee at Costco HQ.

> And they still make money hand over fist.

That's a lot easier to do when you only carry a fraction of the UPCs that say, Walmart does.

Surely most retailers only carry a fraction of the UPCs as Walmart does. Amazon beats Walmart, but who else? Wikipedia estimates 120,000 items per Walmart location and 35 million sold by Walmarts online. In comparison, McMaster-Carr has 570,000 products. Walmart is huge.

The number of different SKUs is totally absurd.

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
I'm not talking about "honey nut", or "multi grain", or "cinnamon oat crunch", those three are just the basic Cheerios.

It's way beyond stupid. This idiocy is the fault of both the manufacturers and retailers.

I wonder if there would be a market for cereals in plain plastic bags kinda like rice and beans...

Just the same bag as the inside of that cheerios box in 3oz increments with a plain label.

They do. But people never look down at the bottom shelf of the grocery story.

My experience buying off-brand Cheerios is that the texture is very different: much crunchier. They're one of the few products where I don't just buy the cheap store brand version.

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