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Mar 14, 2010 03:10 PM

Costco meat & fish trip report, not sure about quality & value

So I took a trip to Costco in LIC yesterday to see what their meats and seafood are like. The place wasn't busy at all, I'm assuming due to the heavy rain and bad weather. In the meat section, I asked an employee about skirt steak, and he told me Costco never carries this which I was disappointed with, as I really like skirt steak. Anyway, what they did have included:

-Beef chuck roast $3.50/lb.
-Boneless rib-eye steaks $6.99/lb.
-Filet Mignon $9.99/lb.

So far so good, I guess. The ground beef, however, I didn't like simply because the label stated that the origins of the meat included USA, Mexico, Australia, etc. It seemed odd to me to see that many countries on a meat label. Then, I saw organic 85/15 ground beef from a place called "verde farms" packaged into three seperate 1lb. amounts for a total of $12.99 ($4.33/lb.).

Next I looked at the seafood. I was really hoping to find gulf coast shrimp or wild salmon, instead they had Black Tiger shrimp, (sorry, I forget the count but they were pretty big) farm raised from Vietnam at $8.50/lb. I didn't like the salmon they had simply because it stated that "color was added through the feed." Adding artificial coloring to salmon is a pet peeve of mine, and I don't like the idea of ingesting that.

In the freezer sections, I found bags of:

-Chicken breasts $16 for 6 1/2 lbs.
-Flounder filets $8.69 for 2 lbs.
-Wild Alaskan salmon $26 for 3 lbs.
-Shrimp farm raised from Thailand, 21-25 ct., $16 for 2 lbs.

I'm not sure if I could do better elsewhere, in terms of quality and cost. I will be calling some butchers tomorrow, including Metro Meats, and others I have seen mentioned in Astoria to compare. As far as seafood, I'm open to recommendations from all of you as to where I could find nice quality that is reasonably priced.

Many thanks in advance for opinions, input, and guidance, it is very appreciated.

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  1. Go to Park's Seafood as I mentioned to you in your other post in Whitestone--they had lots of varieties of shrimp including wild, the place doesn't look too great, but they did have some good product. --also, the costco in LIC, is not nearly as good as the costco in Westbury--soon there will be one in Rego Park, so this will be more convenient to central queens. maybe you should try fresh direct, they have a very large selection of different kinds of salmon--

    1. Costco and the ilk are the demon spawn of corporate America. You don't save anything because the quality of what you get and the damage that they do to the environment. Where ever I live, I support my local butcher. He knows where the meat is from, he is accountable to me as a human being and cares more. His ground beef comes from one piece of meat, not 1000 cows from different countries.

      I don't know where you live but:

      Modelt T Meats (404 Graham Avenue) was my go to shop in Williamsburg. Or Ottomanelli in Woodside (6105 Woodside Avenue).

      Support the people who live in your neighborhood.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Pookipichu

        Thanks for the replies. Janie, I will follow you advice and take a look at the Costco in Westbury. I already gave them a call, and found out that they carry skirt steak, at $6.29/lb. so that's a good sign.

        Pookipichu, I spent some time googling Costco and read that they are a very good company to work for. According to what I read, (I'm assuming it is true) employee's start at about $16 per hour, get full benefits after 90 days, and are given opportunities for promotions.

        While I would love to support and shop from local butchers in my area, I am not able to afford their prices. (My household is a family of 3, with a $65k yearly income.) We need to stick within a budget which is why I am considering a Costco membership.

        1. re: Pookipichu

          Oh please, don't demonize Costco, or make politicized comments, this is not the forum for it. Costco has very good value on lots of things, and you obviously know little about the owner, or any of the great things that Costco is involved in. Secondly, the poster said she was looking locally and elsewhere, to get the best value and quality as well. Your butcher is accountable to you as a human being? Oh please, if you get e-coli, he'd blame his source, like everyone else---unless you are buying organic and know the farm, or you're buying from market directly from the farm, then you're getting it from distributor who gets it from a larger source. In terms of ground meat, I would go to a butcher for this, or whole foods, either one will grind it for you from meat that you can select. Ottomanelli in Woodside, is getting their beef from local organic farms, I think not. I know the place, well.

          1. re: janie

            Thank you THANK you Janie, well said! This knee jerk 'support your local whatever' is a luxury (I mean, I do, sometimes, it's a mix...) for people who have the disposable income to, in effect, 'buy' a salve for their conscience. How nice for them ...

          2. re: Pookipichu

            While I admire your dogged commitment to your local butchers product accountability, I've gotta say you've been duped. Local butchers really don't know where their meat is from. And that they would know that their ground beef comes from one piece of meat is absurd. They might have an idea of producers and root sourcing, they rarelty have that close a connection. CSAs and farmers markets are a closer connection. Local butchers? Rare.

            And they usually don't live in the neighborhood.

          3. Good on you for passing up farm-raised shrimp from S.E. Asia. Pass up farm-raised salmon, too, unless Whole Foods (or your fishmonger) has a flyer about how it's organic (if they even have a certification for organic seafood) and then you check it out yourself. Expect it to be bland. It pains me to say this, but I'd pass up Costco these days for Wal-Mart, which has been surprisingly forward-thinking given its horrific record in every other area. (I stopped going to Costco when the kids grew out of diapers.)

            7 Replies
            1. re: Laddie Din

              Are you advising to pass up farm-raised shrimp from Asia because you feel it adversely affects shrimpers here in the US, OR is it due to quality and/or health concerns? I sympathize with the problems that imported goods cause our economy, but do not feel this is the appropriate forum for such a discussion.

              On the other hand, I would like to know if you believe that the quality of farm raised shrimp is inferior to "wild" shrimp. You already mentioned that the taste will be "bland." I wonder if other here feel the same or differently. This is a great place to learn about food!

              1. re: cherrypoprocks

                I can't speak for the poster, but I have read that most Asian farmed shrimp is loaded with antibiotics.

                1. re: EricMM

                  All "farm raised" seafood from everywhere is loaded with antibiotics and other scary things, unfortunately. That's the only way to keep them alive, teeming in a disease- and parasite-filled, overcrowded vat with their pals. Go for wild if you can.

                2. re: cherrypoprocks

                  i've never personally bought from freshdirect, but friends of mine have been pleased with them, see that they have wild shrimp on special for $9 a lb...seems like a good time to try them out.

                  And yes, wild are much tastier than farmed--grew up eating wild georgia and south carolina and florida shrimp....and there's nothing like getting right off the shrimp boats and cooking it that day. There are also several online sources for wild shrimp, from georgia, SC and Louisiana--but the shipping costs are high and the quantites you need to buy are much more than finding it locally somewhere--as I said, I saw very nice wild shrimp last week at Park's, but they were $12 a lb, more expensive than fresh direct, size were large--slightly bigger than medium..

                  1. re: janie

                    I get excellent wild blue shrimp from Trader Joe's for $10.99/lb.

                    1. re: EricMM

                      saw this shrimp this evening, however it is from Mexico, which is listed as the eco worst choice for buying shrimp--see this link:

                      I wish there more easy to obtain sources for domestic wild shrimp...

                      1. re: janie

                        Spot prawns should be in season really soon...I usually start to see them in April. Look for them in Asian markets, in the live tanks. They are expensive...usually $25/lb, but are worth will never taste a better shrimp. They taste more like lobster. Not easy to find....the only place I know that consistently carries them is a market on Main St, 1 block west of the LIE.

              2. Costco is also only one of the few retailers that does independent testing for e-coli on ground beef. Most supermarkets don't under pressure from the large distributors.

                1. whole foods has skirt on sale until tomorrow for 5.99 and its colemans beef, very good quality