Sometimes, I run out of things Saturday or Sunday and can’t wait until Wednesday afternoon to get stuff for the week. It’s poor planning on my part.
If I had to wait till we were open, I’d never have anything. We are open 24/7 for me because I just walk over here. This too gets to the heart of the question we are asking. Again, we’ll get to this in a later question.
There are probably 2 reasons. 1 – when I come by I stock up. I have a large freezer and the meats keep perfectly well. Secondly for the meat we eat the most of (chicken) it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for us to buy it at your store for $12/lb when I can get antibiotic free/free range chicken from fresh market for $4/lb. however for other things like whole chickens wings etc. the price is competitive enough. We just don’t eat that as much.
I didn’t call Fresh Market to check their prices. I’m going to take this customer at their word that the price comparison is correct. I think they know their business and I trust my customer. I’m not the chicken farmer so I’m not the expert on this part of the business. But I do buy chickens, and sell chicken meat, so I do have some experience beyond the norm.
There are two details I want to point out on this comment. Antibiotic free and free range.
According to the USDA, antibiotic free means that the chicken has not received antibiotics through its withdrawal period. So if the withdrawal period is seven day (typical) then the chicken hasn’t been fed antibiotics for SEVEN DAYS! This does not mean it didn’t receive antibiotics every day of its life prior to those seven days. In fact, you can bet your bottom dollar the chicken received antibiotics from the day it was born until the last minute before the withdrawal period. Actually I think we can even get antibiotics in the egg before it is hatched. And if pharma comes up with a 4 day withdrawal antibiotic, then that will get used instead.
Sanderson Farms had a marketing campaign recently taking advantage of this rule.
So by law, “all chickens are antibiotic free.” So buy our regular chicken or you are a dope. Except antibiotic free doesn’t mean what we (and what Sanderson would have us believe) would think it means.
Free range is another misnomer. It is a legal definition and a producer cannot utilize it unless they meet the federal guidelines. Those guidelines state that the chicken must be given access to an outdoor area. That area doesn’t look like this.
In my previous career, I’ve walked through these chicken houses. The “free range” area is a small door which lets the chicken go outside onto a small concrete, wire enclosed area just a few feet across and long. There is no food, no water, no grass, and no bugs on this piece of concrete. There is literally no reason for a chicken, should they actually locate the door in a barn like the above, to actually go outside. And standing in the barn, I can tell you that the chickens do not, in fact, go outside. They pretty much avoid the outdoor area completely. Saying this is free range is the equivalent of saying you or I could go walk on the desert if we need to get exercise. Inside is food, water, and a breeze from the coolers that keep the chickens from dying of heat stroke. But they are “free range” according to the USDA.
Are these chickens in the second picture cheaper to raise than the first picture? Absolutely! Are they worth the $4 you are paying at Fresh Market vs. the non-free range chicken which is cheaper still? Nope. Same thing, different marketing. If you really want to help your budget, buy regular chicken from Sanderson Farm, or Tyson, or whoever is in the mega mart cooler. It’s tasteless, pumped full of saline to make it appear juicy (and sell you salt water as part of the paid for weight, salt water is cheap), and has lived a horrible life, but it is affordable… That sounds terrible, I’m not trying to shame you. Look, we all have budgets to live with. What I’m trying to say is, sometimes you can eat the meat that is better for you, and sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table. On the days when the budget is priority, don’t be fooled by “free range, cage free” at the mega mart or Fresh Market. Just buy the chicken that is on sale. If you want to try and stretch the budget, or have a better quality chicken for a special event, then go see your local farmer. The stuff that is marketed to you as better for you, isn’t. That rule pretty much applies to every aisle of the grocery store.
One last tip, the comparison of prices was unstated as to the cut, but it was for boneless, skinless chicken breast. That is the MOST expensive cut of meat on the chicken. For the price of one pack of boneless, skinless, you can buy the whole chicken. One whole chicken is three meals from one bird if you do it correctly. That’s how your grandmother did it and it REALLY helps the budget.
Tomorrow we’ll tackle some more comments in part 4.