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.