Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Contradictons at Costco

Salmon farm in the archipelago of Finland
A salmon farm in Finland.
Image via Wikipedia

For about six months every year, Costco sells wild salmon and artificially colored farm salmon side by side. You'll also notice this in the chicken and meat sections -- organic poultry and organic or grass-fed meat mixed in with a much larger selection of their conventionally raised counterparts.

Yestersday, on my weekly visit to the Hackensack warehouse store, I saw a woman put a large tray of farmed salmon in her cart, and I asked her if she knew it is artificially colored. She thought the farmed salmon at Costco might be different, but it isn't. I told her she could find wild Alaskan sockeye salmon fillets in the freezer case and I have found that steaming them yields a fish that would fool many people into thinking it is fresh.

She also had one of the store's rotisserie chickens, which also are raised conventionally. The one time I asked the employee tending the rotisserie, he couldn't tell me anything about the chickens, inlcuding the brand. My frugal friend Jay, who has tried almost every rotisserie chicken in North Jersey, says the antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed bird from Whole Foods Market in Paramus gets the crown.

Yesterday, I saw Coleman-brand organic skinless and boneless thighs at Costco, but they were in pouches -- not one of those foam trays -- and when I picked them up, the feel of the formless meat was unpleasant and I didn't buy any.

The contradictions continue throughout the store. At Christmas,  I was all set to buy the first Costco ham raised without antibiotics or growth hormones, but when I looked at the label, it listed harmful preservatives used in curing. I would have bought an uncured ham. Most of the cold cuts offered also have sodium nitrates or nitrites as preservatives, though I have noticed expensive imported prosciutto without them.

Though they are pricier, wild fish and organic poultry taste better.This morning, I used part of a frozen wild salmon fillet I had steamed for dinner last night in my breakfast sandwich, stacking it with Costco's smoked wild salmon, herbicide-free tomato slices and organic lettuce. I also used Dijon mustard, though pesto or hummus would have tasted good, too, as would have a slice of Swiss or shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. (Sockeye salmon is shown).

Sockeye salmon
A sockeye salmon.
Image via Wikipedia


With the sandwich, I had some lemony, Hannah-brand taboule salad from Costco ($4.99 for 21 ounces), a relatively new item, and Arirang kimchi, an MSG-free brand made and sold in Englewood. Costco recently put out jars of kimchi, but unfortunately, they are made with monosodium glutamate, and it's not worth the couple of dollars I would save.

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  1. Murray's also sells the chicken in pouches now instead of the foam trays. I actually prefer the pouches, they take up less room in the freezer and defrost a little nicer.

  2. I could see how they'd be easier to store. I guess I have to get over how it feels.

  3. The plastic pouches defrost in a bowl of hot water almost instantly. If I bought a tray (bulk) I'd still have to individually put the chicken in plastic bags to store them in the freezer...this is a huge time saver for me in and out of the freezer.

  4. I asked one of the employees that work in the meat section if the top sirloin steak is wild caught or farm raised and she said that all their meat is wild caught, but did not mentioned anything being grass fed, are they good for you? At whole foods, one pound of grass fed is $16 and at Costco or BJ's is $15 for 4lb.

    I guess with the assumption of being wild caught they're probably eating grass fed or to their normal diet.

  5. I've never heard of wild-caught beef.

    Beef comes from domesticated animals that either graze on pasture or are confined to feedlots, or both.


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