Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Great Chicken Roast Off

Before I get into all of my "long story telling"....the pasture raised, $30 chicken, did indeed taste "better".  'Nuf said?

Value.  How do you define value?  Where can I start?

Well, if I define the value of a food product based on "purity" then good God I better be willing to put my money where my mouth is...literally!  So I will simply ask one question before I go on....  Will I negate the highest of health and nutritional standards of buying, preparing and eating a $30 pasture raised, "vegetarian" fed, organic, and hormone / antibiotic free chicken, if I follow it up with a Big Hunk candy bar for dessert?  I didn't....but I might!

I will start by saying that I know how to roast a mean chicken!  Foster Farm's $2 chicken, Whole Foods "air chilled" Rosey Farms chicken, or super duper (and expensive) pasture fed whatever, doesn't matter!  I know how to roast an excellent tasting, moist and tender chicken!  I knew this to be true but it became even more evident at the end of this "roast off"!  When it came time to taste test I cut a sliver of breast meat out from both birds, and of course I bit into the $30 bird first!  But after tasting the $7 bird I found myself going back and forth equally.  I then cut a wing from each bird next....and then a drumstick....and then back for more breast meat!  Although there was a distinct difference both were yummy!

The pasture raised chicken was the flavor winner, but was it the value winner?  Um, no.  No way was this pastured chicken worth $30.  $17?  Maybe. I know "17" is a weird number, but that's as far as I would go for a 5-6lb chicken....but lucky me the $7 is probably good enough for me.

What might you get for $30?

The flavor of this particular pastured breed was sold to me as having "sweeter" tasting meat, and I did, in fact, detect a "sweeter" taste.  There was nothing outstandingly wrong with the WF chicken, in fact nothing wrong at all, IF I had not a side by side comparison.

The meat itself was more fibrous, in a good way.  I would never describe it as "stringy", but "firmer"?  The "mouth feel" was more pleasing.  Mark described the WF chicken as "mealy" in comparison, although not mealy, just more so, for lack of another description. Again, when you have the opportunity of a side by side test you are able to discriminate.

You can feel good about eating it.  But for that matter you can choose to feel good about anything you eat.  Our bodies are, scientifically, the product of the foods we eat right?  I guess at the end of the day is your body, in comparison, the equivalent of that $30 chicken, or a $7 chicken?  How do you treat the rest of your diet?  And do your get out into the fresh pure "pasture" enough to run free in the sunlight, or do you stay caged up in an office or in front of the TV?

Con....the $$

It was really expensive!  If I were to invite company over, sure, I would want to serve the "best" that I could afford.  But would company prefer a Prime Rib from a reputable market to a $30 pasture fed chicken?  (or some other expensive cut of meat).  Would company, be it family, friends, or work associates expect me to go beyond or extend my budget?  And if I did, would I feel that I needed to present the meal to them with a full description of all the fancy smancy words to describe what I was about to serve?  Otherwise would anybody notice?  Or would they be thankful for a lovely home cooked meal?

Enough, enough already!  Better taste, better texture, piece of mind (maybe).  $30 bucks? Not when I have loads of other choices.  Bottom line for me is that this chicken was not worth $30.  $20, maybe...barely...maybe not.  So, I will seek out other options for high quality more "affordable" chicken, and decide what am I ultimately willing to paying for?  Taste, or relief of some kind of guilt? And am I taking care to hold the rest of my food choices to the highest of standards?
This was actually a ton of fun and I plan on doing more side by side cook offs!  Mark is interested for me to do a really cheap chicken and compare it to WF!


Diana said...

Roasted chicken....good stuff! Nice comparison-I would not have paid $30 for a chicken, but I do pay $7/lb for Elk meat versus ground beef. Just more proof how each and everyone of us is different in our tastes!

guy said...

I do something similar w/ Buffalo vs ground beef. There is no sub for a grilled buffalo burger! My mother could cook great meals w/ the best qaulity for the money ingredients available. Things like, technique, tricks of the trade, access to receipes, Etc all factor in.
Mom also made me learn to cook at the age of 15, when I asked why, she said "So you won't marry the first girl, that makes you a sandwhich!" :)

Tracy Reifkind said...


Yep, it was tasty though! One of the biggest reasons I never go out and eat is how expensive it is!

These days there are many quality restaurants but I can but I no matter how much I spend at the market, it's less that going out!

Tracy Reifkind said...


buffalo is just too lean for me....but I'll have to give it another try! Maybe a side by side burger test is in order!

guy said...

A side by side test is just what won me over.

Tracy Reifkind said...


I've got a "pastured" pork roast I'm cooking side by side this week, so the buffalo will have to wait until next! But it's definitely next!

Susan M said...


Full disclosure: I'm a card-carrying member of the Weston A. Price Foundation; I raise my own grass eating hens; I pay 8 bucks a gallon for grass-fed, raw milk from a local farmer; and my little free-standing freezer is full of grass-fed beef from the quarter cow I recently bought direct from the rancher. I know that what my food eats directly affects my health; I'm more concerned about that than the flavor. Long ago, I stopped buying conventionally raised chicken in the grocery store after learning about what that chicken was eating, how it was raised, what it is injected with to make it look plump and pretty on the grocery shelf, and the effects of all that on me and my family. I'm willing to spend more for my food if it meets my standards which admittedly are high.
That said, I hear you on the $30 chicken! I had to stop buying the chickens from our local farmers, because yes, $6 - $7/pound for chicken is just not something I'm willing to pay! I've found over the years that I can make compromises that will fit my budget, but that do not appear to have a negative effect on my health; I now buy organic, "free-range" chicken from Trader Joe's for $2.49/lb. Their chicken legs, which make excellent stock, are just $1.99/lb. Unfortunately, they are "vegetarian" birds, which is a misnomer; chickens are omnivores and "vegetarian-fed" birds are fed lots of soy, which is far from preferable, but since we do not eat a lot of chicken, this is a compromise I'm willing to make. I will not go back to buying the cheap, conventionally raised, salt-water injected chicken. Bottom line, I buy my food with First, a critical eye to how it is raised and handled, knowing that directly affects my health, and Second to how it effects my pocketbook. I buy the closest to what meets my standards, paying the most my budget will permit.

-:¦:- ((''·.,
-:¦:- * Susan *
*-:¦:- ((,,.·´

Roland said...

I hope demand and higher production brings the costs of these chickens down, but until then, it's not worth it to me. I just eat less chicken and more beef, where quality grass fed is less expensive than chicken.

Strange that the tables have turned; people often look to chicken to save money...


Diana said...

Gotta agree with Guy that a grilled buffalo burger is the BOMB!
Also agree with Roland...beef is now the way to go since "chicken" is the "in" thing-the price goes up...the American way-supply and demand!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your own personal experiences!

I did talk with the $30 chicken lady (lol) and she did blame the cost on fes and all of the other costs involved in making this product available.

That being said, $30 is just way too much when there are other protein choices. Eggs are a great value in my opinion, but grass fed beef, lamb are options.

Personally I do not like TJ's chickens. Kosher, organic, whatever, I found them extremely fatty...and I like fat!

Anyway, I feel good about the foods I eat, and at the end of the day that's what's important!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Eat less why didn't I think of that? lol

I realized lately that I probably eat too much protein anyway! But the other consideration is how you cook proteins.

I just finished a pork stew, in the PC, of course, and when you cook something "to death" you really can't differentiate taste! (good God, did I spell that right?)

But I do agree with you about the production costs. I want the farmers to make money too! Maybe I'll score a good turkey this year? Usually the turkeys sell out by now.

Tracy Reifkind said...


getting ready for chili! Not sure if using buffalo would make a difference...but your elk meat may be "the bomb"!!

Diana said...

I've made chili with both buffalo and elk.....I highly recommend using the elk. The buffalo was just not the right taste for it-for me. I'm a bigger fan of elk meat. How sweet it is that I have a good friend who owns their own elk farm and I get fresh meat when ever I need it...just a short 15 minute drive away!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Hmnn..wondering if I need to find an online source for elk? I have never come across it, or maybe I just never paid enough attention?